From AtlanticBlog via Tom McMahon:
Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence; one from Chicago, another from Dallas, and the third from Fort Lauderdale. They go with a White House official to examine the fence.
The Fort Lauderdale contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then gets out his calculator, punches in some numbers and says, "Well, I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for material, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."
The Dallas contractor steps up, takes some measurements, does some figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."
The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."
The official says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure"?
"Easy," the Chicagoan explains. "$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me, and we hire the guy from Dallas."