For a moment there, we almost believed it: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's radical solution for the ongoing fiscal cliff nightmare, and maybe politics entirely, was going to work. Scrawling a vaguely political message on paper cups containing overpriced coffee would deliver us from partisan politics, from disagreement itself. We were going to Come Together™ while consuming a Trenta vanilla soy half-caf latte with extra chocolate drizzle.

Today's a different story. As baristas declined to partake and customers complained, the downfall of Schultz's utopian, cup-littered dream continued this morning when the hyperlocal Patch network, which produced significant scoops while covering the Newtown shootings, issued an incredibly strange and possibly unethical memo: the AOL brand intends to "partner" with Starbucks by... sending individual cups, decorated with unspecified "opinions", to Washington, D.C., where "lawmakers" will somehow read them and stop fighting. Here's more on the program, via Jim Romenesko:

We expect this to be the first in a series of Patch and Starbucks initiatives giving consumers the opportunity to write messages and create drawings on Starbucks cups to express their opinions on significant topics facing our country. We will then send the cups to Washington so that lawmakers can understand how people in communities across the country feel about these issues, and to initiate action.

The same day, politically-inclined Starbucks customers began complaining on Twitter that their local barista forgot to write Come Together™ on their Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino®. Via New York:

Utterly barbaric. Here's the Times's Brian Stelter:

It is difficult, by the way, to find anyone, AT ALL, who takes the Starbucks campaign even kind of seriously:

And some are even crying foul: