Politics & Policy

Mediahounds, Bill, & Our List


Sitting here in this coffee shop, er, coffee house. (Pierced people dressed in black who carry cell-phones don’t go to coffee “shops.” Where I come from, overweight old men with racing forms go to coffee “shops.”) Anyway, sitting here riding out what was on Monday the storm of the century and is today “excessive humidity,” I am overcome with wonder at the joy of the unexpected.

Hurricane “Floyd” — a name only appropriate for great stoner-laser-light-show-bands or Jewish accountants — had more would-be Gunga Dans rushing to Florida to brave out the storm ten feet from a warm twelve-ton truck than any in history. Speaking of Dan Rather, #93 on our list of the 100 most overrated people, he could have looked more ridiculous than he did last night on the evening news — say if he was wearing a Princess Leia outfit — but not much more ridiculous. There he was brazenly defining a (cue ominous dum dum duhhhhh music) … bad rain storm! Floyd had already missed him and his crew, so he was left to stand there talking about what the storm might have been like! Gives you chills, doesn’t it?

What I love, though, is the incredible vanity of getting soaked in the rain on TV. Rather’s not alone. All of these J.C. Penney Model cum Walter Winchells go cloud-chasing every year for the Storm of the Century. Remember: Under normal circumstances these guys and gals undergo extensive make-up and wardrobe consultations; in air-conditioned environments with grad school urchins fetching herbal tea at the slightest hint of parchedness, these guys are terrified to go on air without having anything short of a vigorous enema. “Does my hair look important, but not pompous?” “Is this the right shade of eyeliner to talk about a coup in Kinshasa?” But in a storm? — it becomes “let me out there! I’ll get soaked for a .1 share! I’ll get wet for a local news Emmy!” I’ll bet.

Getting soaked or wearing some ridiculous helmet or flak jacket or whatever is simply a ridiculous sop to the egos of TV journalists who want to appear “authentic” — like when they go for the “mussed” look on the White House lawn.

But back to the unexpected. There’s an aphorism of something called chaos theory which says that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Australia you’ll get a hurricane in America — or something like that. You can tell this is a popular bit of intellectual chewing gum because it appears in movies constantly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. I like to think it is.

So it seems what’s true for butterfly wings is true for snapped thongs as well. A couple years ago, an odd girl with self-esteem issues snapped her thong at the President of the United States, leader of the Free World, caretaker of the nuclear football, and all that other jazz. The President said, “have her cleaned and perfumed and brought to my tent” (I’m paraphrasing). Because at the time, the President was being sued for saying “kiss it” to a woman (he wasn’t 10 years old and he wasn’t talking a scrape on his knee) he decided to lie about the thong-girl. Things got out of hand, he lied more (this time under oath), got more people to lie, well, you know this part of the story. Anyway, he humiliated himself and his party and his nation and presumably his dog Buddy.

But he also humiliated his wife (#2 on our list of the most overrated). She had been humiliated plenty of times before, but this time, for some reason, it made her popular — especially to the core of her political party, which often confuses dysfunction, victimization, and arrogance for character, achievement, and leadership. So a few people started talking about how she should be a Senator. Charles Rangel suggested it to her and she said “great!”

This in turn has had the outlandishly unpredictable consequence of her actually running for the seat of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in New York, a state she never lived in and doesn’t know the first thing about.

Fast forward a bit. President Clinton wants to help out the little lady so he issues clemency for a bunch of guys who have a strong following among a radical faction of an ethnic group in New York. She loves the idea and endorses it. But because she has absolutely no business running for Senator in the first place she knows nothing about the business of running for Senator. It turns out that some other people — commonly referred to as “most people” — don’t like the idea of releasing people — sometimes called “terrorists” by “most” people — who’ve killed cops and innocent civilians. (Of course the word “civilian” is very misleading because it implies that there are “combatants” somewhere. Similarly, these terrorists tend to call themselves “freedom fighters,” but Puerto Ricans themselves have twice voted in the last ten years not to be anything but what they are. I don’t think King George gave George Washington &Co. a vote.)

So Hillary decided to come out against her husband’s decision. Not because terrorists shouldn’t be granted clemency, mind you, but because they didn’t say “yes” quickly enough. So then the pro-terrorists got angry with her. And now she’s almost apologized for not sticking with her support of clemency in the first place. The bloom is off the rose of her Senate campaign. The House and Senate have now overwhelmingly condemned the President for his offer of clemency, and they now want to hold hearings. But the President has announced he is invoking executive privilege to protect the obvious fact that he had no good reason for doing this other than to get out of the doghouse.

All because an odd little girl snapped her thong. Or maybe it was because Bill’s mother and grandmother fought over who loved him more. I can never keep those butterflies straight.


Tomorrow! Corrections! Clarifications! Announcements! Porn!


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