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March 2003
: Maintain Your Sense of Humor… By Any Means Necessary!
By Catherine Clyne


Okay, so I admit it. I’m one of those people who just laughed throughout the presidential election race in the fall of 2000. That idiot in the White House? I scoffed. Impossible!!

I voted for Ralph Nader and firmly stand by my decision. However, I’m not of the crowd who contended there was “no difference” between Republicans and Democrats, Bush and Gore, as many Greens and lefties claimed at the time. Deep down, I sensed the real danger a Republican government posed.

That day I watched the polls closely and voted when I was certain Gore had a comfy lead in New York state. But my mouth hung open as the returns showed the race was extremely close. It was surreal: I honestly believed there was no way—not in a million years—Bush could take the White House. It was inconceivable. He was just too juvenile.

Then there was the Florida fiasco. Whenever anyone reminds us that Bush did not definitively win the presidency, conservatives accuse them of being sore losers. They boo sour grapes when the very few people in-the-know point out the undeniable evidence of the blatant corruption that went on. How many Americans have actually seen or heard about this? Thanks to the American media, not very many. Few are aware of the voter rolls that Governor Jeb Bush and buddies tried to “purge” five months before the election took place. That’s right—lists totaling nearly 58,000 names. You see, felons convicted of crimes in Florida state are not allowed to vote, so lists of their names are sent to each county to be purged from the voter rolls. The thing is, many people listed were actually innocent but simply shared an approximate spelling of a real ex-con’s name. And it’s true—lots of actual ex-felons were listed, but they had moved to Florida from states that restore the right to vote after felons do their time. The Florida Supreme Court ordered Jeb and co., not once but twice, to stop interfering with ex-cons whose civil rights had been restored. Oh, and the dates the crimes took place were listed, but lots of the dates were in the future, like in 2007. And guess what? The race of each person was also listed and, surprise, surprise, the majority were African-American or Hispanic. As a result, thousands of people were illegally denied their right to vote on election day. Oops!

I know, it’s just too surreal to believe. But you can see the evidence for yourself in investigative journalist Greg Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, a thorough—yet witty—exposé of the Florida and other swindles with copies of damning documents to back it all up (see With shenanigans like these, you have to laugh because the alternative’s too grim to consider.

The Shrub is the Smoking Gun

One thing about activists—especially those of us engaged in progressive politics—is they are notorious for having no sense of humor. While some of this is stereotype, it’s basically true. It’s not that we don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that it’s hard to maintain one when so much in the world is wrong. It’s a non-stop avalanche.

There are so many absurd things happening in this country, I feel like I’m stuck in a film negative about two seconds behind a parallel real world where everything makes sense. I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up, it’s Monty Python-esque: Bush’s point-of-no-return pronunciation “noo-kyoo-ler” and the myriad of stupid things that come out of his mouth. Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN of “evidence” of Iraq’s concealment of weapons of mass destruction was like a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The taped conversations could have suggested a lot of things, including a cover-up of something or other, but it’s no smoking gun. I kept expecting Powell to pull out a shrubbery or something equally as absurd and pass it off to us as irrefutable evidence. That a major piece of Powell’s case is a report based on—even plagiarized from—previously published articles, is not only an insult to our intelligence, it shows us that the Bush people very well might produce a shrubbery as hard evidence. It’s a joke—but I’m not laughing.

At this point, I don’t have the energy to get worked up over the idiotic bunk this government keeps feeding us. But to maintain my sense of humor, what I can do is lampoon it. A few weeks ago, we missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to illustrate just how ridiculous it all is. In Dan Rather’s heavily hyped interview of Saddam Hussein, Hussein challenged Bush to a live debate on satellite TV and radio. Although I wouldn’t believe a word either of them said, it would have been a hoot to see. Given the gyrations the Bush camp went through to avoid debates with Al Gore, it’s obvious the White House would never let it happen. They’d prefer to drop bombs on Iraqi civilians and endanger thousands of soldiers’ lives than risk the chance of Bush looking like a dummy (something they haven’t quite managed to prevent so far). If we aren’t going to get a debate and we’re grasping at straws to stay sane, I thought I’d try to get us laughing. Let your imagination run wild!

Special TV Event: Presidential Wrestlemania!
Since it seems downright unsporting to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, an intellectual debate was obviously out of the question. Given that this war-talk is really a pissing match, I felt Hussein and Bush should engage in combat more befitting their character. How about “Presidential Survivor”? Let’s see if Saddam can survive being dropped into the middle of the Mall of America, and if Bush can find his way through one of Saddam’s presidential palaces—all the while evading arrest for war crimes. Logistically, that may be a little complicated. One friend suggested a “scissors, paper, rock” contest. But one of these would inevitably be tagged a WMD and poor-ol-Hans Blix would get dragged into the fray. I thought, perhaps a burping match might be more appropriate. But then it hit me: a caged wrestling match refereed by none-other than The Rock!

If the rest of the country can escape into reality TV and “The Bachelorette,” we can imagine Hussein and Bush battling it out on WWE Smackdown. These past few months I’ve been involuntarily introduced to the wacky world of “Sports Entertainment” and believe you me, it’s less surreal than anything going on in international politics. At least “pro-wrestling” is honestly fake.

Forget false bravado, let’s give the posturing Presidents what they really need—a way to vent all that pent-up testosterone. Leave innocent civilians be and give the viewing public—who have been held hostage by constant “Countdown To Iraq” coverage for months now—what they want: a real showdown! The tough talk over Iraq has already dragged on longer than the last Gulf War, and as I see it, Bush and Saddam owe us the satisfaction of really duking it out once and for all.

Picture it. “Slammin’ Saddam” vs. “Furious George” staring each other down and hurling insults at each other in a wrestling ring surrounded by a 15 foot-high steel cage. There is no way in or out until one man is either pinned by the other for a three-count or gives up. There is no time limit and, best of all, the loser is automatically exiled to facilitate a much-needed regime change. Of course, monogrammed vinyl briefs and he-man go-go boots are mandatory; capes and masks, optional. To borrow The Rock’s catchphrase: If you smeeeeeeeelllllll what “The Cat” is cookin’! What better way to prove the absurdity of war?



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