WASHINGTON—Gently applying a cool cloth to the plant’s kernels as he cradled its frail stalk in his arms, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stayed up all night caring for a sick corn plant, sources close to the former Iowa governor confirmed Tuesday. “There, there—you’re going to be all right,” the fretful cabinet member said as he stroked the plant’s wilted leaves and browning tassels, feeding it spoonfuls of nourishing, nitrogen-rich fertilizer. “Be brave for me, little one. We’re going to make sure you get all better.” At press time, sources reported that a tearful but determined Vilsack had mercifully snapped the corncob in half to put the dying plant out of its misery.

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