There’s nothing like a juicy story about government incompetence in foreign countries to take our minds off the idiotic blather we’re hearing during our own political campaigns.

Here’s a beaut from our friends in Spain:

It seems one Joaquin Garcia, a civil servant employed by the municipal water board in Cadiz, was scheduled to receive an award for his “two years of loyal service.”

According to a news story on the Internet, only when final arrangements were being made for the presentation did Cadiz’s deputy mayor, along with Garcia’s immediate boss, realize they hadn’t seen the honoree at work “recently.”

Recently, heck! Turns out no one in the office had seen him for six years.

Had he retired? Was he sick or maybe dead? He was still on the payroll, though, reported the mayor who had initially hired Garcia.

When Garcia’s supervisors called him in for questioning, the errant employee reported that he had stopped coming to work because he was “the victim of workplace bullying.”

No one bought this excuse though. The local court slapped him with a fine equivalent to $30,000 in American money, which supposedly was the most his former employer could legally reclaim.

Frankly I think the court stopped far short of punishing the proper persons. If the water board didn’t notice in six years that no one was supervising or reporting on the water treatment plan (Garcia’s responsibility), they weren’t exactly doing their work either.

If were a customer, I’d begin to wonder if the water I’d been drinking (and paying for) was even minimally safe. The personnel in the payroll department who  had continued to send Garcia his checks appear to have been asleep at the switch too.

Throw all the bums out!

Of  course the Spanish media went wild over the story, dubbing him “el funcionario fantasma” (the phantom official).

But what had Garcia been doing with his six years of leisure time? He claims he spent his days reading philosophy. Yeah, sure.

If he’s smart, though, he’ll do what every disgraced public figure does these days. He’ll write a tell-all book, maybe about the menace of office bullying, and he’ll appear on a few TV talk shows. I can just imagine the hosts scrambling to bring his tale to the viewing public.

He might even run for political office on a ticket promising to expose corruption in the civil services.

Garcia’s political future is limitless if he can just remember to show up for his campaign rallies. If he does forget, however, maybe no one will notice.

He’s that kind of guy.

Carol Ferguson is a weekend columnist for the Herald-Banner.