(Strip Number 5142, Original Publication Date, 31 May 1989)
Panel 1: Later on, Mike explains to Liz that his problem is not being punished per se but the form it's taking. This rather neatly foreshadows the punchline and sidesteps the inconvenient problem that is Mike not knowing why he's being punished because it wasn't explained to him that if he stands around cursing all day, he's going to make other people feel uncomfortable and look ill-mannered.
Panel 2: He can see the point of being punished for being stupid enough to make Liz swear where Elly can hear it but not getting cut off from his television fix for two weeks because he's a pathetic addict going through undiagnosed withdrawal.
Panel 3: He tells her that said punishment has to be perfectly fair (by which he's meant to mean "there should be no consequences to my actions and I should keep on doing the thing that got me punished") which leads her to ask what is fair.
Panel 4: When he says that what's fair is something that's no hassle to live with, he's meant to be a foolish child who doesn't understand what the purpose of punishment is. Given how little purpose Elly's punishment has, though, he's less stupid than he looks or sounds.
Summary: Since we remember that Mike's 'groundings' involve allowing him to roam around as if he weren't and since we also remember all of the other times her punishments didn't stick, he again has more of a point than she'd like. Also, we get a fair idea of what the horrible and anger-inducing 'debate' Elly said is bad actually is: him trying to find out why she thinks something is wrong.