In the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, Cleavon Little plays the new sheriff in an old Western town. The sheriff is African-American, and when he rides into town for the first time, the townspeople pull out their guns and are about to shoot him.
But he quickly puts a gun to his own head, pretends he's scared of his own gun, and says "BACK OFF OR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN GUY GETS IT!!!" The townspeople are dumb and fall for it, suddenly terrified that he'll kill himself. Here's the scene.
That's what Wall Street is doing with the bailout.
The fat cats on Wall Street are saying "give us a lot of money, and buy all of our bad debt for a lot more than its worth, or Wall Street will get it and will go into a depression!"
Are Americans stupid enough to fall for it?
Note: While the scene contains racism, this analogy really has nothing to do with race. If it was a white sheriff, I still would have written about it, because its the principal of threatening one's self to manipulate other people which I'm referring to, not any racial issues. In any event, it was the sheriff - not the townspeople - who was the smart one.