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Screw the oil market — look no further than the flagging fortunes of American icon Ed McMahon for an uncanny barometer of our nation's volatile economy. The man whose face in your mailbox once reflected decades of surging domestic wealth has reportedly suffered a financial decline mirroring our war-addled vortex of national debt: $1.5 million, to be exact, half of which is owed to American Express, with another $644,000 owing on a palatial house he can't seem to unload:

Some potential buyers have been scared off by the area, which boasts such celebrity neighbors as George Clooney and Britney Spears, who ironically gained fame on McMahon's Star Search. Alex Davis, McMahon's real estate agent, told the Associated Press, "When we were trying to sell the house one time, there were about 100 paparazzi there."

Nevertheless, despite his current cash calamities, McMahon's rep said his client has "always been optimistic, and he remains optimistic that something good will happen."

McMahon's generosity hasn't helped, either, with the gregarious 85-year-old WWII vet's hotel-gratuity and wife-investment pastimes having finally caught up with him. Nevertheless, expect a volunteer crew of Hollywood philanthropists led by Eli Broad and David Geffen to parking their own Prize Van at McMahon's doorstep, borrowing one of the neighboring paparazzi and presenting a balloon bouquet and an oversized check to the TV legend. Let the healing begin, America!