It was a tough decision, but I resolved this year to stay off the Internet on April 1. It’s too difficult to tell the real news from the April Fool jokes these days.
Yes, as a comedian said years ago, "Satire doesn’t stand a chance against reality anymore." Even the reigning wits of late night comedy — Leno, Letterman, et al. — must be finding it difficult to say things about what President Bush says that are funnier than the presidential statements themselves. Take, for example, this recent headline: "Bush predicts mayhem in Iraq." Wow! No kidding. Whose phone do you suppose he had to tap to get that information?
Yes, the Republicans, who used to be quite dull, have become very entertaining. You might say they’re the life of the party. To borrow a phrase from the president himself, don’t "misunderestimate" them. Their comedic talents are considerable. In fact, I sometimes think the whole Bush administration should named Alice, after Ralph Kramden’s wife in Jackie Gleason’s famous sitcom, "The Honeymooners." Remember how funny Alice was? ("Oh, you’re a riot, Alice! You’re a riot!") And, of course, Republicans are very big on space travel, which also brings the Kramdens to mind. ("To the moon, Alice! Pow! Zoom! To the moon!’)
Maybe Bush, who always seems to have time for long weekends and extended vacations at the ranch, could do a little moonlighting as a late night comic himself. Sure, why not? Eliminate the middleman. Why have Jay Leno tell us about the hilarious things Bush says, when we can get it straight from the horse’s… well, you know. Bush could walk out on stage and begin the monologue with something like this:
"Today, we had a meeting at the White House of some of the top educators from all around the country and I asked them the one question that nobody’s been askin': Is our children learning?" Then he can look genuinely surprised and puzzled when the audience starts laughing. It will all come so naturally to him.
Or he could talk about how hard he’s working to strengthen the economy to "put food on the American people." Or he could tell us how he has warned "outsiders" not to meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign Iraq. Again, the laughter will likely take him by surprise and when he reacts with surprise it will evoke further laughter.
Or he might explain how we are waging war in various parts of the world to spread democracy, because democracies are more peaceful. Democratic governments don’t invade their neighbors or spy on their own citizens. More laughter. More surprise, evoking still more laughter.
Eat your heart out, Leno.
Or, given his obvious powers of prognostication, Bush might be able to find work as a meteorologist for one of the TV stations in a major metropolitan area. Surely anyone who, at this point, could predict mayhem in Iraq (previous forecasts of "cakewalk" being no longer operative), wouldn’t need all those maps and charts and barometers and so forth. He could merely stick his head out the window, bring it back in soaking wet and make a "prediction" of rain.
This is not to suggest that Bush has a monopoly on comic talent in Washington. Heavens, no! His own party still talks about fiscal conservatism in the face of budget deficits of $400 billion or more every year. "Limited government" and federalism are still "talking points" when the centerpieces of the Bush administration’s domestic program are the No Child Left Behind Act and the prescription drug benefit under the Great Society’s Medicare program. And the Bushites are a riot ("a riot, Alice!") when they talk about our troops defending our freedom in Iraq. Who in Iraq was attacking Americans or our freedoms before our troops arrived? Never mind, I can’t talk now.
I’m laughing too hard.
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.