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The Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2008

Okay. Just so you know: the Top Ten Comedic News Stories of the Year are as different from the Top Ten Legitimate News Stories of the Year as a tarantula infested banana tree is from a small paper bag of locking quarter- inch steel washers painted blue. Other stuff might have had a bigger impact on America and the World, such as an African American guy whose middle name is Hussein winning the Presidency of the United States. But so far, Mister Agent of Change is about as funny as over the counter ear drops. You can’t mock hope right now. Too much like kicking small whimpering furry things with big eyes. Oh, he’s bound to loosen up after a few weeks getting kicked around on Pennsylvania Avenue, but until then, here are the stories from 08 that were most filled with humorosityness.

10. Proposition 8. Organized religion goes out of its way to guarantee that gays will not be burdened with the right to be as miserable as the rest of us.
9. New York Governor and Emperor’s Club member, Elliott Spitzer. Flies a hooker from New York to DC, because as we all know, there aren’t enough hookers in DC. (535 that I can think of offhand) Gives her 4 grand and puts her up at the Mayflower Hotel. Now, that’s a liberal. A conservative will try to get it for free in an airport men’s room stall. Demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
8. Joe Biden. Has potential to fill gaffe gap being vacated by George Bush. Inserts foot in mouth so often, he should invest in mint- flavored shoelaces.
7. National Political Conventions. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family called for a storm of biblical proportions to disrupt outdoor acceptance speech of Barack Obama on last day of the Democratic Convention. Hurricane Gustav slammed into New Orleans canceling first day of Republican Convention. Proving that either God has a sense of humor or… be extremely careful what you ask for.
6. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Gives a bad name to people with bad names. Something about the Springfield Capitol makes it work like a halfway house in reverse. Economy is so bad, Hair Helmet probably offered free shipping with Barack’s Senate seat.
5. The Primaries. 1: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee raises hand at a New Hampshire Presidential Debate when asked, “who doesn’t believe in evolution?” In May, he explains he is still campaigning because “at this point, its survival of the fittest.” 2: In Philadelphia, Senator Hillary Clinton says “in this race, I am Rocky Balboa.” Obviously forgetting that in first movie, Rocky loses... To a black guy.
4. President George W Bush. Lame duck, but a good ducker. International community furious at Muntadhar al Zaidi. Not for trying to hit the President with his size 10s, but because… 1.) his aim was bad, and 2.) he wasn’t a centipede.
3. Senator John McCain runs worst campaign ever. That includes New Coke, France in 39 and Cloris Leachman on Dancing With the Stars. Doesn’t know how many houses he has. Should do what I do. Every time I get 4 houses, I trade them in for a hotel.
2. The Economy. When everybody in America knows the name of the Secretary of the Treasury, that’s not good. Line of the year courtesy of an anonymous Wall Street broker: “This is worse than a divorce. I’m worth half what I was… and I’m still married.”
1. Governor Sarah Palin. For those destined to go cold turkey on Bush, she is like a dose of methadone. And she’s sticking around. How you going to keep them down in Juneau after they’ve seen Neiman- Marcus?

Political comic, Will Durst, who writes sometimes, expects an even better list in 2009.
If The Shoe Flies, Hurl It.

The President of the United States looked into the sole of another foreigner- twice- as a pair of shoes was flung at him during a Baghdad press conference on a surprise visit to Iraq. And though a lame duck, he proved to be one hell of a ducker. Some might say “the mother of all duckers.” The biggest shock may be how well he went to his left. And thank god it WAS a surprise visit or the assailant might have had time to assemble an arsenal more potent than his size 10s. Any half way decent computerized re-enactment would surely show size 13 Timberlands clipping their intended target.

An international outcry has arisen over the actions of Muntadhar al Zaidi the irate Iraqi TV reporter slash shoe- flinger. Not because of his “if the shoe flies, hurl it” philosophy, but because his aim was so ducking bad. And he stopped after two shoes. That’s right. For the first time in what may be recorded history, a person is the recipient of worldwide scorn for not being a centipede. A female centipede. Because then chances increase tenfold he would have had a matching handbag or fifteen to lob as well.

Another remarkable aspect of this bizarre incident is the response of the Secret Service, which was slower than a mail- in- rebate check from a Bulgarian internet provider. Is that the normal practice during a transition? To guard the outgoing President by throwing the ‘B’ team in there? Obviously they have to train the new guys some how, but you’d think they could bone up on a Deputy Secretary of the Interior or something.. Maybe the ever ducking VP. However, closing ranks is one thing our intelligence community does know how to do, so don’t be surprised to hear the CIA back up the Secret Service by confiscating all video footage and floating a single shoe theory.

The best way to honor George W Bush might be to adopt his free market attitude and think of this as a shopportunity. To help get this country back on its feet again by encouraging future footwear tossers to support our domestic shoe industry and buy and heave American. I can see the newest Nike Ad: Al Zaidi winds up. He begins to throw. Freeze frame. Zoom in on a photo- shopped Swoosh on the side. Lower sixth simple Helvetica: “Just Do It..”

And doubt not there will be future footwear tossers. At every public function, every so called speaking engagement, every shopping mall opening; sandals and sneakers and boots and broughams and pumps and wing tips and stilettos and slippers and especially loafers will rain down on the 43rd President of the United States like taunts upon the Yankees right fielder from the bleachers of Fenway. A pelting that should be sufficient to discourage him from visiting the Netherlands for pretty much ever.

You won’t even have to actually propel anything to knock him off stride. It’ll be enough to disrupt any security detail to swiftly bend down and take off one shoe, quickly rise with it, then leisurely remove a stone or pick some gum off the tongue or restring the laces. Of course, if certain liberal factions get their way, this will just be the first in a long line of items being chucked at the W, in the hopes that eventually somebody throws the book at him and it sticks.

Political comic, Will Durst, writes sometimes and this is one of them.
Giving Governors a Bad Name

Hats off to the Illinois Governor for shooting so high above and beyond the normal arc of political malfeasance that he’s probably annoyed NASA by interfering with satellite traffic. After years of highlighting nuances and scrutinizing minute distinctions, it’s downright thrilling to finally find someone acting crookeder than a dump truck full of dissembled wire hangers. Excuse me. I mean, finally finding someone GETTING CAUGHT acting crookeder than a dump truck full of dissembled wire hangers. Not everyday the FBI arrests a sitting Governor at his house at 6 in the morning: We’re talking movie of the week here. I see Casey Affleck in a bad wig. With Aaron Eckhart as Patrick Fitzgerald.

Rod Blagojevich has lined himself up to be the fourth Chief Executive of the Land of Lincoln since 1974 to be offered a long- term residency at the Gray Bar Hotel. That Springfield Capitol building must be quite a feat of social engineering. It seems to work like a halfway house in reverse. He has single handedly smashed all doubts that Chicago is to corruption what Santaland is to elves. What Los Angeles is to plastic surgery stitching. Upper Michigan and deer ticks. The list goes on. Seattle and mildew. See.

The list of alleged infractions are heinous enough that had Spiro Agnew lived through this, his little head would have spun right off his neck like a power assisted drill bit. On top of giving a bad name to people with bad names, Blago is also accused of putting his appointment of President- Elect Barack Obama’s successor in the US Senate up for sale to the highest bidder. Which is bad in a comic book villain sort of way. But then you think… “Jeez, selling a Senate seat. Hmm. Bet we could put a serious dent into something like an auto bailout that way. Besides, how much worse could it get?” But that discussion is best left for another time.

Asked to comment on his home state compadre, the soon to be Prez attempted to maintain a proper distance, which you know if he had his way, would consist of an additional 5,000 miles, 3 languages and a parallel universe or two. He even pretended to have trouble pronouncing the Gov’s name. Tough love, perhaps. But with friends like this, who needs rabid back stabbing turkey vultures with poisonous talons?

While the Governor remains as cluelessly defiant as his hair, calls are being made from the highest ranks of the Democratic Party for Blagojevich to resign. Calls are also being made for Blagojevich to contract a bout of flesh eating bacteria. To climb under an igneous rock. To curl up and die. Evaporate. Disappear. Implode. Take a midwinter nocturnal swim in Lake Michigan wearing cement overshoes, leaving behind a note declaring himself to be a closeted Republican.

The one silver lining to be squeezed out of this squalid scenario is, should he be convicted, Hair Boy can still maintain his oath of service to the Great State of Illinois. It’s just that instead of fixing the roads and highways by signing budgets and shepherding coalitions wearing a tailored suit, he’ll be doing it with a garbage bag and pointy stick in an orange jumpsuit.

Will Durst is a political comic who occasionally writes a little.
The Clueless Cup

In an upset worthy of Marin Day School covering the spread against the Green Bay Packers through the first three quarters of a spirited scrimmage at Lambeau Field, the coveted Clueless Cup appears to be on the verge of falling out of the clutches of President Bush’s staff for the first time in 8 long years. And the usurper is a little known agency that has blissfully slipped the bonds of reason and floated into the chasm of ludicrous self- delusion. Or to put it in layman’s terms: delivered another Congressional report.

Wackier than a Sumo wrestler in tap shoes, these pointy headed nincompoops from Cambridge, Massachusetts, (where else?) have caught dense in a bottle and driven it to a new area code. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, they have reached the irrefutable conclusion… er, the results of one of their studies is indicative of…, and they are quite certain of its validity… that, yes, your suspicions were correct, we are indeed… in a recession. They said that. Monday.

Who knew? Not only that, but the economic downturn of which they purport started way back last December and has been going on for almost a whole year right under our and their noses. And no one even suspected. No one. Except for that tiny obstreperous group consisting of me and you and the rest of the planet. Thank you Captain Obvious. And kudos to your whole Evident Army for clearing that irksome mystery right up.

Wonder what their first clue was? The housing market sinking lower than a grass stain on the belly of the bottom snake in a pit full of vipers? How bout all those 401ks that have magically turned into single digits ks… or just plain ks. Or perhaps they took that American jobs are disappearing faster than cans of hairspray backstage at a Liza Minelli impersonator contest? My guess is these guys hooked into a bad batch of egg nog this time last year and lapsed into a state of suspended animation until they were shocked from their reverie by news that all hell was breaking loose and Tampa Bay was in the World Series.

A recession, hunh? Wow. Amazing. That’s like announcing a pregnancy after the successful completion of kindergarten. Holding a Hollywood premier for a movie that’s been in rotation on The Lifetime Network for three years. Or instead of playing catch and release, playing catch and sauté and release. Next thing you know, they’ll be sending out updates on Michael Phelps’ historic run at 8 Olympic Gold Medals in Beijing. Hey all National Bureau of Economic Researchers: What the latest poop on that whole Lindbergh Baby business?

Never mind, here’s the question I really want answered. How does one go about getting a job with the NBER? Is there a civil service test? It sure doesn’t sound like there’s a drug test. Because that’s the kind of gig I could be good at. To get paid to tell people stuff they already know. “You sir, are annoying.” “Excuse me Madam. Were you aware that when water gets extremely cold it turns into a solid, which comes in handy when chilling liquids. Yes, and this just in, blood… most effective kept inside the body. Now, where’s my research grant?”

Will Durst is a political comedian who writes sometimes.
And They’re Off!

As the curtain mercifully falls on the Most Important Election of Your Lifetime, the nation breathes a collective sigh of relief. Or do they? Sure, there were enough Byzantine plot twists and darkly rich comic characters to exhaust Dostoyevsky’s older smarter brother. And I imagine more than a few of you are woke up spent, limp, barely able to grasp your coffee cup and raise it to quivering lips; tertiary casualties of Election Fatigue. But, now that the votes have been tallied and the results buried deep in Almanac City, you’re happier than John McCain in a flag factory. Then, this column… is not for you. This is for the millions of us political junkies who feel emptier than a Chrysler SUV showroom. Whose zest for life has faded like the colors of the posters in a video store window, facing West.

Obama’s new administration does guarantee a steady stream of politics blaring from the front pages, but far short of the decibel level we’ve inured ourselves to. Chris Mathews may continue to bellow, but it will be a shell of his former shrill. Joe Biden undoubtedly will insert his foot in his mouth so often that he should invest in mint- flavored shoelaces to facilitate flossing, but who has the energy to throw his blunders up on YouTube? And if they do, so what? If a faux pas is uploaded and no eyeballs visit, is it really a gaffe?

It wasn’t just the horserace, the sidereal sideshows were just as intriguing. Since the middle of 2006, electoral websites sprang up like mushroom spores in a cow field after a Wisconsin spring rain. Rachel Maddow became a video star. Cable ratings crested higher than the Stanford Band after a homecoming win in the 60s. The rise and fall of un- inevitable candidates, surges, purges and financial lurches, AND Keith Olberman, riveted us like so many 3 year olds holding a mason jar full of paisley painted fireflies.

What I’m saying is, I don’t want to live in a world without Presidential campaigning. And don’t give me that midterm stuff either. I need the real thing. I want XM satellite radio’s POTUS Oh Eight to become POTUS One Two. And because I know nobody else will do it, I’ve put together a snapshot of the field for the next Presidential election. Yes, now. After all, November 6, 2012, is only 48 short months away. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to jump- start your engines. And in answer to your inevitable question: No. Not even for a second.

The Very First Handicapping Of The 2012 Presidential Race.

  • Sarah Palin. Inside track goes to Queen of Moosylvania. 4 to 1.
  • Mitt Romney. 4 more years of craggy and grey might be just the ticket. 15 to 1.
  • Rudy Giuliani. “Daddy. What was 9/11?” 80 to 1.
  • Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. How about changing the change? 40 to 1.
  • Chuck Norris. You know actors. That Huckabee thing was pure rehearsal. 100 to 1.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger. First we must change the Constitution. No Problemo. 50 to 1.
  • Jeb Bush. You think the Bush stops here? All the country needs is a little sorbet. 30 to 1.
  • Michael Bloomberg. You can spend as much as you want? Who knew? 80 to 1.
  • Tina Fey. She and Sarah could run together on the Doppelganger Ticket. 300 to 1.
  • Hillary Clinton. This time, it’s personal. 10 to 1.
  • Bill Clinton. 3 terms? Hey, Bloomberg did it. 500 to 1.
  • Al Gore. In the unlikely event the planet survives. 20 to 1.
  • Bill Richardson. All right. I’ll shave. But not for Secretary of State. 30 to 1.
  • George Clooney. President McDreamy. 100 to 1.
  • Oprah Winfrey. You heard me girl. 25 to 1.
  • Dennis Kucinich. Every election needs a mascot. 1000 to 1.
  • Joe Lieberman. You want bipartisan? How about anti- partisan? 400 to 1.
  • Ralph Nader. Fifth time’s the charm. 315,000,000 to 1.
Like all political comics, Will Durst is akin to an Olympic athlete, with a career every four years for a month. That month is over. He now enters hyperfasia.
Bipartisan Sleaze

It was as refreshing as a secret waterfall in the Sahara to see the FBI video of Democratic Massachusetts state Senator Denise Wilkerson stuffing part of a $23,000 payoff into her bra at Beacon Hill’s Fil- A- Buster restaurant under the shadow of Boston’s Capitol dome. Just for the sake of bipartisanship. In national politics these days, you hardly ever hear of a Democrat getting busted for corruption. Not because they’re any more honest by nature. Its just… who’s going to bribe a Democrat? They can’t get anything done. Besides, if you do give them money, they don’t know what to do with it. They put it in the freezer for crum’s sake. Or their undergarments.

On the other hand, take Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Please. He not only knows what to do with the money, he knows how to earn the money and the optimum manner in which to solicit more money. Mister George Washington of the Bering Strait knows a thing or two about cash. But he’s not very conversant with that whole going gently into that good night thing. The fifth sitting US Senator to be convicted of a felony vows to appeal his conviction all the way to the highest court in the land or until he gets kicked out of the Most Deliberative Body in the World. Whichever comes first. And presumably, costs less.

Requesting a speedy trial, the 84 year- old Moses of the Tundra was rapidly found guilty on seven counts (co- incidentally, one for each Senate term served) of violating federal ethics laws. The legal way of saying “as crooked as a dump truck full of corkscrews.” Forget the quarter million dollar improvement to his house that he assumed to be included in his fifty- dollar refurbishing estimate; let’s go straight to the $2700 massage chair given to him by a restaurant owner. Adamantly refusing to accept the gift, the Senator did agree to store it in his basement rec room. For 7 years. Subsequently, he rammed through a 2.7 million dollar project building a road to the restaurant of the very guy storing the chair in his basement. Hopefully, those banks we’re bailing out can earn a fraction of that kind of return on investment.

Republicans across Alaska and the country (you know- Joe the Plumber’s Uncle Grumpy and Tina Fey’s look alike) are urging Stevens to resign, as nobody wants to give the impression that Alaska voters are in the habit of electing felons, which might make other choices they made look a bit silly as well. But calling Stevens stubborn is like saying the Himalayas are curiously bereft of PGA tour worthy golf courses. He’s Pre 49: A fierce patriarchal force in politics since before statehood who insists he can still be an effective advocate for Alaskan citizens if rewarded with an eighth crime spree. Erh, Senate term.

Voters get to pass the final judgment on both Senators as Stevens and Wilkerson soil their respective state’s ballots in tawdry re- election attempts Tuesday. Stevens did receive a bit of good news when the Alaska Division of Elections determined he was able to vote for himself. Even though convicted felons are ineligible, he still gets to go to the polls because… he hasn’t been sentenced yet. A moral victory perhaps, but the last victory either he or Ms. Wilkerson will probably experience for a long long time. One can only hope.

Worst Campaign Ever

I don’t know which is scarier: The American landscape the next President of the United States is destined to inherit, the people who will make that decision (us), or the fact that these two guys seem to want it so bad. Or do they? Did you ever think of that? Maybe John McCain is deliberately trying to throw the election. “Let me get this straight. Ten trillion in debt? Losing two wars? Tampa Bay in the World Series? Not what I envisioned when I gave this country the best five years of my life. Barack, my man. This one is all yours.”

It would explain a lot. Like why he and his people are running the worst campaign EVER. And that includes New Coke and Penn Jillette’s appearance on Dancing With the Stars. Or for you older folks: France in 39. Have you seen him lately? The GOP nominee is running around the country like an ornery troll with irritable bowel syndrome. Stamping his feet and shaking his fists and spitting and shouting and whose playbook is that a page out of? Rumplestilskin, Ross Perot or Naomi Campbell?

Loses all three debates; standing, sitting and strolling. His brother, Joe, the Brother, calls up 911 to complain about Beltway traffic. Gets asked how many houses he has and doesn’t know? Then again, who among us hasn’t made that same mistake? “Let’s see, how many houses do I have? Unh. There’s one and… no, just the one. Wait, wait, wait. Nope, my mistake, only one. Oh, I know, that doesn’t include the… oh yeah. It does. Sorry, still one.”

Recently, the Arizona Senator addressed a rally with a hearty “My fellow prisoners” instead of “my fellow citizens.” Very Manchurian Candidate. Do not flash the Queen of Diamonds at him between now and Election Day. Then, in one of his fifty most crucial states, he said, “Senator Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately, and you know, I couldn't agree with them more.” Close, but no cigar.

The nascent Dump Palin movement has morphed into a Dump McCain groundswell. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s obvious that this is the worst case of political suicide since Walter Mondale bragged in his 84 acceptance speech that he was going to raise taxes. Although Michael Dukakis dressing up at a tank commander for Halloween has to rank right up there. And oh yeah, let’s not forget John Kerry wind surfing in spandex. A visual that still makes Howard Dean shiver like a hairless Chihuahua on a BlackDiamond ski run.

But it’s way too early to talk about this election in the past tense. There’s a veritable plethora of ways this thing could still turn around. A Lee Atwater Special: Serious October surprise or November startlement. The Bradley Effect exponential factor fourteen. Convincing all first- time voters that the polls aren’t available to them until Wednesday. Keep Joe, the Biden, talking. A giant monster hand comes out of the sky and smashes Northern California. Lots of ways.

Interestingly enough, the former Navy pilot did experience a brief pop in the polls when he jumped off the campaign trail for a few days during the financial crisis. Well, there’s your answer boys. Clear the decks and let Sarah, the Palin, assume lead dog. Let the old man take a nap. His best shot at winning this thing may be to slip into a coma for the next week. Some might argue that’s a done deal.

Will Durst’s book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. And, don’t forget to check out his “Burst of Durst” 60 second videos at youtube. Also on youtube, episode 12 from the Will & Willie podcast series.
John The Candidate

Take that old saw about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks and toss it in your blue recycling bin on top of your fifth of a quart economic medicinal containers. In his final mano- a- mano confrontation with Barack Obama, the oldest dog of them all, Arizona Senator John McCain proved that aphorism false by adding a new wrinkle to his typical somnambulant debate strategy; centering his entire debate performance on currying the vote of a single man, Joe the Plumber. McCain targeted Joe Sixpack’s brother in law in a last ditch attempt to peddle his untapped Main Street cred to a public as skitterish as a hummingbird in a wind tunnel.

For the third consecutive debate, the Grand OLD Man of the Grand Old Party neglected to include a single mention of the middle class, but then again, he also failed to talk about three- toed albino tree elves and the general assumption is, to him, both are fictional. He definitely came out more spirited this time out. Maybe TOO more spirited. Near the end of the Hofstra University debate, at the point where he normally nods off, he went so far as to blink a series of frenzied secret communiqués to Joe Wurzelbacher using Morse code with his eyes.

Something else was happening as well. Either the studio was filled with nitrous or the host, CBS anchor, Bob Schieffer, whose avuncularity helped McCain look spry, dropped some happy juice in the green room pitcher of water, because there was an inordinate amount of smiling going on. Too much smiling. Weird smiling. By everyone. Schieffer with his “you got yourself into this, not get yourself out” patient interruptive beams. Illinois Senator Barack Obama who regularly slipped into his incredulous head- shaking dismissive smirk verging precariously on the precipice of smug, whenever his doddering opponent spouted what he considered unintelligible nonsense. Which seemed often. And in the finest Republican tradition, McCain mimicked George W Bush’s “grinning for no apparent reason at inappropriate times” creepy grimace kind of smile scarily successfully.

Some whippersnapper on his staff must have taught the Republican Nominee how to use air quotes, as he tossed them around like a systems analyst conventioneer with a fistful of singles at a strip bar. Going so far as to claim that too many abortions were allowed on the basis of a woman’s “health.” Which he spit out like a worse excuse than skipping a spouse’s funeral due to a toe throb. Whoa, grandpa. Not sure you want to rile women up. You know? Women. The people Sarah Palin is supposed to attract to the ticket?

McCain has to be frustrated. By his plummeting poll numbers. By Obama’s prevent defense knocking down his Hail Marys. And by a continuing failure to meet his daily fiber requirements. But once again he was his own worst enemy, turning cranky into an art form, using the word “cockamamie” to refer to Joe Biden’s Iraqi Partition policy. Cockamamie? Are you that worried about the crotchety vote? Or is that considered exciting the base? You’d better screw the base and start to focus on undecideds or it won’t be long before John the Candidate has to call Joe the Plumber to clean up the explosive detritus of a toileted campaign.

Will Durst’s book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. And, don’t forget to check out his “Burst of Durst” 60 second videos at youtube. Also on youtube, episode 12 from the Will & Willie podcast series.
Bashful In Nashville

You’d think that the two remaining presidential division heavyweights squaring off on national TV would produce a modicum of action. You know, a knockdown, busted nose; maybe a rabbit punch to the back of the head or a chunk of an ear spit through the ropes into Tom Brokaw’s lap. Something. You’d think. But you’d be as wrong as fried foie gras with truffle butter on a hot dog bun. Float like an elephant. Sting like a frog.

The #1 ranked contenders failed to even rise to the tepid level of their handlers’ lowered expectations this week as they spent most of their second face- to- face showdown locked into a permanent clinch, slavishly following some dubious locker room advice which apparently consisted of “be limper than steroided genitalia.” It was a strategy designed to NOT LOSE and indeed the evening’s biggest saps were the poor wretches ringside whose best use of their valuable ticket stubs was scraping them across their forearms to maintain wakefulness.

Weighing in at 185 pounds and wearing the blue tie, standing six feet one inches tall, the long lean fighting machine from Chicago, Illinois, Barackkk “Change You Can Believe In” Obaaamaaaa, bobbed and weaved and threw a couple of snapping jabs, but his repertoire was strangely bereft of the patented head rattling straight lefts he’s become known for and his overall performance appeared workmanlike rather than the transcendent his legion of fans are used to.

And in the red tie, from the high deserts of Arizona, weighing in at 175 pounds, standing five feet seven inches tall, the crusty but not so benign, Johnnn “The Maverick” McCaaainnn, acquitted himself well early, until docked a couple of points on a punch below the belt when he referred to his opponent as “that one.” About two inches above a “you people” which undoubtedly would have resulted in a judges’ DQ and possible suspension.

Distressingly, neither one of these two veteran pugilists broke a visible sweat spending the bulk of the fight trading highlights from their stump speeches turning the middle rounds into a soul- sappingly boring exercise of predictable back and forth blah blah blah. Barack’s reflexes seemed a bit dulled, perhaps suffering from a training regimen that concentrated too much on the back half of the Rope- A- Dope.

We were lumbering towards a split decision when the exhausted McCain, who may have been suckered into thinking the fisticuffs had ended two rounds earlier, pulled out Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick and proceeded to get hit upside the head with it. Later, his haymaker about hair plugs fell short, and he groped about the stage, his face swollen from the punishment he had absorbed, although many observers assured us that’s just the way he looks.

Obama was declared the winner on a split decision and McCain’s light at the end of the tunnel is fast turning into a dying match seen through a keyhole stuffed with hand tape. Maybe the fight went on too long or the Arizona Battler is over the age limit to seriously engage in the Sweet Science anymore, but no one in his corner is talking about throwing in the towel. Though it was generally conceded that McCain had to win this one and he didn’t, there still is one bout left. Which means, if I were the Bad Boy from Illinois, in our final confrontation Wednesday in New York, I’d check McCain’s gloves for foreign substances and use my famous footwork to keep far far away from his teeth.

Will Durst’s book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. And, don’t forget to check out his “Burst of Durst” 60 second videos at youtube.
Interesting Times

Sweaty wrestling scholars have yet to establish whether it’s a Chinese, Arabian or American curse; nonetheless somebody once said, “may you live in interesting times.” And sure as God made the larva of the coddling moth eager to worm its way into the core of little green apples, we are knee deep in the middle of one of those “interesting times.” Any more interesting and psychiatrists will start franchising electro shock therapy treatments at shopping mall kiosks.

The good news is Congress rewrote their 700 billion dollar bailout bill and turned it into a 800 billion dollar rescue plan. Totally different. Now it’s a rescue plan. Instead of a bailout bill. Sounds much friendlier. Besides, what’s 100 billion amongst friends? The bad news is they still haven’t done anything about it, which is surprising in the same way that discovering that the development of webbed fingers makes picking up dimes difficult not to mention hair management.

What’s frustrating for we normal citizens who do not hold a doctorate in weekly misplacing the Gross National Product of Ecuador, is having absolutely no idea of what’s going on. And neither can anyone explain what this monetary CPR will or won’t do or exactly who is going to end up with all that cash, or where they’re going to put it, and whether they’ll need counter sunk hinges for the steel vault doors set over their newly dug underground bunkers to hide it all.

We have many questions. Such as who are we helping out: Wall St or Main St? Will I still be able to afford premium cable? Is this a Band- Aid or a full body containment suit? Can displaced homeowners pack future CEO Golden Parachutes? And finally and most importantly, is Nancy Pelosi’s face capable of any expression at all?

$2500 for every man woman and child in America to help out broke stock brokers just seems so, what do you call it, wrong. For all we know, Henry Paulson’s big bailout blueprint is to head straight to Vegas: “900 billion on red.” And that’s another thing. When everybody in America knows the name of the Secretary of the Treasury, that’s not good.

First the Sec Treas called it the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Then it was rejected as the Bailout Bill and embraced as the Rescue Package. Now it’s the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Glad they threw that date in on the end so that we’ll be able to distinguish it from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Acts of 2009, 2010 & 2010A.

The fact that this Bailout to Nowhere is growing faster than time lapse bamboo may be prompting some members to pass it quickly before it swamps DC in paper and debt. In less than a week, it bulked up from 3 pages to 102 to 451 pages and is swallowing buckets of steroided earmarks as we speak. Rumors have it that one of its newer provisions loosens accounting rules for Wall St. HEY! Isn’t that what got us into this mess in the first place?

Being largely a crisis of confidence over our foundering Ship of State, it is more comforting than polar bear fur against a naked buttock knowing George Bush is steady at the helm. He actually said out loud in front of people holding microphones “we’re working hard on economic turmoil.” Thanks George, Mission Accomplished. Finally gets one thing right, and its economic turmoil. I ask you now: What are the odds?

Will Durst’s book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. And, don’t forget to check out his “Burst of Durst” 60 second videos at youtube.
Old Piranha Pants

Got a message for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Hey lady. How ya doing? Me too. It’s going around. Listen, the couch is over there and you might want to lie down and take a Zen moment to get over your bad self. You had a nice run: your moment in the sun, complete with an SNL skit featuring your Doppelganger, Tina Fey, but now the honeymoon is over and you should moose up and use this quiet time to devise an actual stance in lieu of a pose. I’m sorry to be the one to have to say this, but you are SO earlier- this- month. It’s your partner, John McCain, who’s back in the news. And not in what you call your good way.

His iron grip on what is generally regarded as reality slipped like the manual transmission on a Model T Ford with a faulty handbrake parked on a San Francisco hill facing up. He’s reverted to his pre- convention state of fumbling and foundering and flummoxing and falling into a fevered form of flabbergast. And it’s that nasty old economy that’s the piranha in his pants biting his big white furry butt. Again.

Earlier this year he said he didn’t know much about it. And its not that hard to believe him. If he could point out three distinct differences between Lehman Brothers and the Jonas Brothers, I’d be as shocked as a giraffe on a glass escalator after too many fermented Blackberries that the Arizona Senator either did or didn’t invent. You might say he takes an arm’s length approach to the economy. You might also say that arm length is extended enough to qualify for frequent flyer miles.

It was drinking the Daily Gallup Kool- Aid that transformed Dr. Unconcerned into Mr. Proactive. But even with the make up and the rubber mask, the role still seems a bit off kilter on a man who is so notoriously free market that he escorted the French philosopher Laissez- Faire out of range of the security cameras, fed him a handful of Rufies, then locked him in the evidence room behind a file cabinet wrapped in a pile of piano blankets.

Responding to the recent Chernobyl sized melt down on Wall Street, the Bush Successor Wannabe insisted that, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” demonstrating a cluelessness you don’t normally associate with folks still in possession of a pulse or not related to one of the judges on “So You Think You Can Dance.” But totally in line from a guy not sure of how many houses he owns. And I have a quick question here: When you own 7 houses, how big do your pants pockets need to be to accommodate all your keys? He should do what I always do: Trade 4 houses for a hotel.

McCain jumped off the De- Regulation Express so fast, that Jamaican Bolt guy probably tried to buy his shoes. His cure for what ails us calls for empanelling a blue ribbon study group like the 911 Commission, sounding like reform the same way that a pneumatic jack- hammer sounds like a dial tone. He put off proposing concrete solutions, such as equipping tourists with steel umbrellas to repel falling hedge fund brokers, but maybe he’s squirreling that one away for his fact- finding commission. He did talk about dismantling the Old Boy Network in Washington, and that could actually work. Especially when you consider the Senator’s current standing as Ranking Old Boy.

Will Durst’s book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. And, don’t forget to check out his latest “Burst of Durst” 60 second videos at youtube.
The Unkosher Candidate

Settle down people. For crum's sake, you're going to burst a collective blood vessel here and end up squirting self- righteous juice all over your nice slacks. All this garment staining simply because Barack Obama said his opponent's call for change was similar to applying lipstick to a pig. Which made John McCain go crazier than a drunken evangelist in a transvestite strip bar, accusing Obama of insulting Sarah Palin. I'm not sure, but I think the Senator from Arizona called his own Vice Presidential pick a pig. That can't be good. Or does the wizened albino iguana know something we don't?

Perhaps the problem is the Democratic nominee needs to be more explicit. In order to determine proper porcine provenance, preciser information needs be provided. What kind of lipstick? And what kind of pig? Not all pork is created equal you know. And neither, as any woman over the age of 12 can tell you, are all lipsticks. What are we talking here: Chanel Rouge Noir on a Jambon de Iberica? Or Maybelline on a Hormel Picnic Ham? Is there a pineapple glaze involved? Some sort of weird double Ruinish clove ring spiked into the top? Is the pig in question publicly displayed or secluded in a poke? And most importantly, do you need a ten- foot pole to poke a pig in a poke?

These new Republican girl rules are strict. First off, you can’t say anything negative about the candidate. “She was in favor of the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.” “Sexist pig.” “Being next to Russia gives her foreign policy experience the same way living next to McDonalds makes somebody an expert in FDA regulations.” “Chauvinist.” “Her hair is sort of Amy WInehouse- ish.” “Swine.” “She’s a she.” “Man.” Two legs good. Four legs bad.

If you consider Republicans crying “sexist” a little like a hurricane calling a tornado erratic, you, my friends, are not alone. In addition, certain words have been swept completely off the table since Ms. Palin branded them with her own personal narrative copyright. Until November 5th, nobody in the lower 48 is allowed to use the following words: “pig,” “pitbull,” “lipstick,” “eye- shadow,” “Alaska,” “earmark,” “hockey,” “lacrosse,” “jai alai,” “mom,” “small- town,” “trooper,” “the,” “moose,” and “squirrel,” without the expressed written consent of the RNC, the FEC and Bud Siegel.

Governor Palin is harder to pin down than a greased Berkshire on a Slip N- Slide during a olive oil squirt gun fight. Partly the result of being cloistered for two weeks with Joe Lieberman, cramming for her Vice Presidential finals, soon to be taken with rival, Joe Biden. Whoa. Locked into a room with Joe Lieberman. Maybe we should all cut the little lady some slack. Sorry. Big lady. Big woman. Female candidate. The bespectacled Y chromosome lacking person. This does get complicated doesn’t it?

Her single foray into Charlie Gibson’s paternal grimace penumbra, proved inconclusive. People who liked her, still like her and those who didn’t, don’t. Rick Davis, the Palin/ McCain campaign manager said the press is not going to speak to her again until they start showing some deference. Deference? Politicians demanding deference now? Whoa. What a delicate little flower our raven- haired moose killer turns out to be. Are we going to have to start addressing her as “Your Ladyship?” Will there be pillows for our knees whilst genuflecting? A ring to kiss? I just hope she takes it out of the back pocket of her jeans first.

Republican Convention Roundup

The Riverboat Gambler.

He’s either a genius or an idiot. Brilliant or crazy. Political mastermind or stone crazed loon. Destined to go down as a real life visionary or the Banana Daiquiri Boy with attention deficit disorder who took down Karl Rove’s entire Republican machine with one swell foop. Could go either way. But one thing you have to give him, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain did not take the easy way out. Turns out he’s not just a Maverick, he’s a genuine riverboat gambler rolling the dice on a virtual unknown as his VP nominee.

Former beauty queen, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, calls herself a “hockey mom,” which means we’re in good shape if we ever need someone to body check Russian President Medvedev. And she looks eminently more comfortable handling a gun than the current VP. She may not attract all that many disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, but she could bolster Republican voting rolls by attracting Inuit Indians and fans of the “Legally Blonde” movies in unprecedented numbers. But, who knows? If she’s able to hold her own with Joe Biden in the debates and talks tough enough to convince the Christian Right she can actually implement those far right social policies of hers, McCain’s roll of the dice may have hit a hard way pass. Then again, he might have thrown snake eyes. If he’s right, he laughs all the way to the White House. Either way, the big winner in this one is Tina Fey, who can guest host Saturday Night Live and do her impression without even a cursory stop in the make up chair.

Packing List For St. Paul Republican National Convention.

• Oxygen inhalers to counteract beer and lutefisk poisoning.
• Extra bumps on my credit card for price of admission to Charles Schultz Museum when convention gets really boring, which means pretty much any time during the four days.
• Noise canceling headphones in case someone decides to read the Party Platform out loud.
• A Minnesota Twins hat for John McCain.
• A really sharp stick in case either Larry Craig or Jack Abramoff try to show up.
• A pair of stridency shock collars for Mary Matalin & James Carville.
• A chamois in case Lynne Cheney’s hair helmet needs a quick shine.
• “Free Scooter Libby- Mission Accomplished!” sweatshirt.
• Lots and lots of Vivarin.
• Shorts, hiking boots and down vest in order to blend in outside the convention hall.
• Bad comb over and white shoes in order to blend in inside the convention center.
• One of Laura’s pantsuits for Sarah Palin. Not the weird blue one.
• “Best of The Replacements” CD.
• Pair of hearing aids for the candidate.
• Pair of earplugs in case I get caught on elevator with Chris Mathews.
• “Republicans Used To Do It From The Right But Not So Much Anymore” t- shirt.
• Portable personal industrial strength espresso machine in feeble attempt to stay alert.

10 Ways The Last Day Of The Minnesota State Fair Is Like The First Day Of The Republican National Convention.

At the MSF, the Miracle of Birth Center features calves and lambs.
At the RNC, it’s more about the Palin brood.
At the MSF, there’s a lot of bull crap being flung around and nobody makes a big deal out of it.
At the RNC, same thing.
At the MSF, the freak show features an attraction called The Human Blockhead.
At the RNC, George W Bush checked in via satellite.
At the MSF, the admission charge is eleven dollars.
At the RNC, it only costs a tiny piece of your soul.
At the MSF, they have a stand that offers Turkey- To- Go.
At the RNC, Ann Coulter uses a charter plane.
At the MSF, visitors flock to the Sheep Barn.
At the RNC, the main focus is on the Delegate Hall.
At the MSF, there’s a Free Karaoke Stage where drunken patrons mangle the simplest of songs.
At the RNC, the Convention Stage is utilized by the rank and file to give speeches.
At the MSF, you hold onto the bottom to eat the Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner- On- a- Stick.
At the RNC, most of the sticks have been fully inserted.
At the MSF, newborn piglets suckle at the teats of their mother sow.
At the RNC, freshmen legislators party with Coca- Cola, AT&T and Mobile- Exxon.
At the MSF, a big attraction is Bob’s Snake Zoo.
At the RNC, the Snake Zoo is Karl’s.

The Roosting Storm.

The Focus on the Family prayed for a storm of biblical proportions to disrupt Barack Obama’s outdoor acceptance speech in Denver, and bless their little hearts, they got one. Unfortunately the storm they summoned was the ghost of Katrina who sent her younger brother Gustav up the same watery chute she terrorized 3 years ago, postponing the party the Republicans were holding 1200 miles north at the headwaters of the Mississippi. Oh sure, NOW they pay attention to New Orleans. Wonder why that is? Oh yeah, that’s right. Eight weeks. Election. Thankfully, Gustav did not live up to his sister’s reputation as world- class bitch, so things are returning to normal up here in St. Paul. But normal might not be enough. Right now, the GOP brand is less popular than skunk flavored pudding. If it were a movie, it would “star” Robert Davi and go straight to video. They’ve lost 3 consecutive special congressional elections, and everybody up here snickered
past the bathroom in the Minneapolis St Paul airport where Senator Larry Craig had his famous attack of restless leg syndrome. Not to mention this is where that bridge fell down over the Mississippi reminding Americans of the trillions we aren’t spending on infrastructure in order to defend the Iraqi Oil Ministry. Add to that Bush’s approval rating which barely rises above stomach cramps, and you have to wonder if the President really chose to address the convention by satellite or whether John McCain convinced him that St. Paul had been quarantined by an outbreak of plague infested rats. Wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

The Problem With That Polar Bear Hating Palin Person.

Tonight will determine if Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidential nod is unraveling like an old wool sweater during a brisk walk through a bramble patch. First off, there are questions as to how John McCain vetted the scrappy Governor of Alaska. He says he met her once. Some reports dispute the frequency. Either way, what was the deal: did they share a Happy Meal at some out of the way MacDonald’s, talk for twenty minutes, then he got up and said, “Okey Dokey Smokey?” You want to be a waiter at Ruby Tuesday, you got to go through three interviews. Personally, I think she scored high on his MILF list. Or maybe Karl Rove convinced him what Americans really long for is a Vice President who can shoot and field dress a moose, then cook up a roast you could die for. GOP talking heads keep saying that since she was mayor of a town of 8,000, and governor of a state of three fifths of a million people for 18 months proves she has executive experience. You know
what, that’s more night- manager- at- Radio Shack kind of executive experience than CEO- of- a- multinational- corporation kind of executive experience. And just because Alaska is next to Russia doesn’t give her foreign policy experience. I lived next to a McDonald’s once, that doesn’t make me an expert on FDA regulations. Mostly, she seems to excite the Christian Right base with that whole five kids and high school daughter now pregnant and we’re keeping them all no matter what they look like, sort of thing: but to the left, she’s just another example of conservative head- in- the- sand denial.
Q. What do you call a mother who believes “Abstinence Only” is a birth control method?
A. Grandma.

Overheard At The Xcel Center.

“We’re the only ones in a neighborhood full of bleeding heart liberals. I told my daughter to take down the McCain sign and get the hell inside. ‘They’ll poison the dog.’”
“$12 for a coffee mug?” “It will be a treasured memento, sir. Besides, money isn’t everything.” “Obviously you’re working the convention- not attending it.”
(two security guards talking) “So what does GOP stand for?” “I’m guessing… Government… Operations… Programs.”
“Sir, which part of ’No Food or Drink in the Seating Area’ do you not understand?” (hopefully) “The ‘No Drink’ part?”
“That’s one of those Snoopy statues because Charlie Schultz was from around here.” “I think it was George Schultz.”
(one female delegate to another watching Sarah Palin rehearse at the podium) “Her hair looks like a Grecian Urn.” “I think she’s going for the Nefertiti look.”
“Can you imagine having that screen in your rec room?”
“I like the idea of a hockey mom. Kind of like a soccer mom with sharpened steel and a big stick.”
“It’s all about food with her, isn’t it?”
“Is it Pay- lin or Pah- lin?” “Pay- lin. Like the Monty Python guy.”
“You see this? Something called the Log Cabin Republicans are holding a ‘Gay ‘Ol Reception’ tonight.” “Gay Republicans? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” “I bet they like opera.” “Well, there’s two reasons for them to keep the &#*% out of Arkansas.”

Pit Bull With Lipstick.

Well, now we know why she was nicknamed Sarah Barracuda. Last night Governor Palin proved that a former small town mayor from Alaska could hold her own with the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, in the big time partisan red- meat sweepstakes, as they headlined a Murderer’s Row of GOP speakers who methodically eviscerated the twin scourges of conservatism today: Democratic candidate Barack Obama and the liberal media elite. In these politically swift moving waters it should come as no surprise that Palin- Palooza replaced Obama- Rama in the hearts and minds of America. Well, at least on their TV screens. We’ll find out about the latter later. In her almost- but- not- quite acceptance speech, presumptive Vice Presidential nominee Palin established herself as a formidable power hitter gunning for noted hardballer Joe Biden in their upcoming debate. But in her coming out party, she was as pert as a Meyer Lemon and as easy on the eyes as Key
Lime Pie. Like Tiny Fey crossed with a shark. Pat Buchanan in heels. Christie Todd Whitman in a skirt. Apparently, being a hockey mom means chewing holes in your opponent’s stick. Or as she said; a pitbull with lipstick. Must be all those pucks to the head. She rallied the crowd into a frothing snarl by disemboweling the irresponsible media for having the audacity to question her experience. Apparently that’s sexist and you can’t ask her new boss how many houses he owns because he was a POW. Wow. The first off limits ticket. Nice work if you can get it. I’ll tell you one thing, I’d hate to be John McCain tonight. Think Loudon Wainwright. having to follow the Rolling Stones.

Party Pooper.

Well, that clears things up like a fifty- pound bag of topsoil dumped from a garage roof into a kid’s blow- up wading pool on a cantilevered patio. John McCain, in his hour- long acceptance speech, attempted to convince the country that he isn’t just running against the Democrats but against the Republicans as well. It was the weirdest acceptance speech by a candidate for President since Michael Dukakis spoke for 45 minutes and failed to move his neck. Which was odd, but not as odd as the way the way- senior Senator from Arizona failed to even once mention the current President, George W Bush, by name. Neither did he mention George HW Bush, Jeb Bush, Laura Bush, Babs, the twins or the night blooming prickly bush thistle. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t a single mention of shrubbery, trees, vegetation, or plant- like flora of any kind and precious little about fauna such as Dick Cheney, Jack Abramoff or any other carnivorous invertebrate. McCain
even warned Washington that change is coming. But this is not your Obama change. This is not new change. This is old change. And he and the Barracuda are just the folks who can change Washington with some of that old change, even though the party they represent has held the White House seven out of the last ten terms and Congress twelve out of the last fourteen years. McCain didn’t just stand up to his own party, he stood his own party up against the wall and slapped the crap out of them. And they applauded. The biggest surprise is how these clapping Republican Mavericks look exactly like the Republicans who voted in Bush the last two times. Canny of them to adopt such clever disguises. On an entirely unrelated note: turns out John McCain was a POW. Who knew?

Packing List For Denver
Democratic National Convention

• Oxygen inhalers to counteract altitude poisoning.
• Extra bumps on my credit card for price of admission to John Elway Museum when convention gets really boring, which means pretty much any time during the four days.
• “How To Speak Delaware” to figure out what the hell Joe Biden is talking about.
• A Colorado Rockies hat for Barack Obama.
• A pair of basketballs for Jesse Jackson on behalf of Barack Obama.
• A really sharp stick in case either one of the last 2 Democratic Vice Presidential nominees try to show up.
• Hair spray for Joe Biden’s hair.
• “Free Kwame Kilpatrick!” sweatshirt.
• Lots and lots of Vivarin.
• Shorts, hiking boots and down vest in order to blend in outside the convention hall.
• Grey ponytail and comfortable shoes in order to blend in inside the convention center.
• One of Hillary’s pantsuits for Michelle Obama. Not the weird blue one.
• “Best of The Eagles” CD.
• A pair of stridency shock collars for both Bill & Hillary Clinton.
• A chamois in case Tipper Gore’s hair helmet needs a quick shine.
• Earplugs in case I get caught on elevator with Chris Mathews.
• “Democrats Used To Do It From The Left But Not So Much Anymore” t- shirt.
• Portable personal industrial strength espresso machine in feeble attempt to stay alert.

Clair Huxtable Smothers Angela Davis In Her Sleep.

It was strange watching the Democrats spend most of their initial prime time Convention coverage not by talking about the historic feat of nominating the first black man for the Presidency of the United States but rather focused on the wonderful wacky world of women. Apparently, part of the Obamaniac strategy was to convince the Hillary Clinton insurrectionists to turn from the Dark Side and come home. Where there are no Y chromosomes. You saw it with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Claire McCaskill and Caroline Kennedy all taking turns at the podium, and even Great Aunt Teddy Kennedy making a heartbreaking surprise appearance. But the most effective shot was having the candidate’s wife blow a kiss towards Hillary in the midst of assuring blue collar America that she was not a terrorist. Despite wearing a dress that was an absolute bomb. Garnering the biggest response of the night, Michelle Obama referred to 18,000,000 glass ceiling holes and the crowd went nuttier than the hospitality suite at a squirrel convention in Berkeley. But the very best moment, the one that you couldn’t plan with a 1000 miter saws and a conference room full of blueprints, was at the end, when the Obama girls, obviously up way past their bedtime, started cutting up with Barack on a satellite feed. Dad was thrown off script and confused but the kids provided such a winning charm offensive I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Hallmark jumped on board by releasing a limited edition Sasha Obama Beanie Baby. A wonderful moment to remember the night by, until the New York Senator speaks tomorrow and all hell could break loose. But that’s tomorrow.

Hillary’s Hill

This is the first Democratic National Convention in which females constitute a majority of the delegates, 50.1%, and fittingly, its being held in the Pepsi Center, the first arena built where most of the rest rooms have one of those stencils on the front door wearing a flared skirt. And isn’t that sort of sexist? Or at least clothesist? Nevertheless, this is also the first major party national convention where most of the early high drama is being delivered by women. Last night it was the Obama girls, with Michelle making like June Cleaver, (all that was missing was the pearls) and tonight it’s all about Hillary, who is responsible for more stress and anxiety in Democratic hegemony than waiting to see if an avalanche takes out your rope stakes. Her appearance has generated about an 8.7 on the Convention Tension pre ripple Richter Scale. Some people worry she could go either way. Make nice or go to the mattresses. But settle down people: she’s always been a true party gal and knows what’s expected. To talk the recalcitrant ones off the ledge and back into the army of Hope. Some supporters are acting like abandoned puppies with discarded chew toys. One group wandering around Denver calls itself PUMA, which stands for Party Unity- My Ass. Bringing them back into the fold is not going to be easy. But then, where are they going to go? Hillary’s also being held accountable for everything potentially wrong with the new way forward from providing McCain with his best campaign ad sound bites to the erratic path of Tropical Storm Fay. And tonight she has the opportunity to suture up old wounds and gracefully pass the standard. And then hope the elegance she’s demonstrated will pay back dividends in 2012 after Barack loses this fall. That’s why they call it politics.

Fire Good. Sometimes.

You can understand why half the Democratic Party was Smurf morphing, turning blue from holding their breath for fear of what color fire would be breathed when the woman who never really stopped running for President, even when confronted with the inevitability of simple math, got up to speak. Funny things can happen when you give a torch to a woman scorned. Not all of them good. Especially a woman burned by two philandering pretty boy Democrats who is now being asked to swallow her flame of ambition center stage in front of the entire country. What’s that old adage: never get in a match- throwing contest while standing in a pool of crude? She could have used that torch to burn down the whole house with everyone still in it, or shove it up somebody’s gas tank or rally the villagers with it, while passing out pitchforks to storm the gleaming castle on the hill. So the assembled masses breathed a sigh of relief when the blaze orange pant- suited woman in question didn’t just pass the torch but lit it with the reflected heat of the passion of her 18 million ceiling crackers. That sigh of relief was especially loud in the Aaron Thompson household of Billings, Montana, where a guy who’s going to speak on Thursday watched as well. The biggest question rolling through the Pepsi Center was “Why didn’t she give this speech earlier?” Maybe she’ll have a chance to give it again. In 8 or 4 years. But for now, the Denver visitors just hope that now the torch has been passed, the guy taking it up grabs the right end. The unspoken sentiment around here right now, is he and his party might want to put some of that heat in their belly. It takes a bonfire.

I Got Your Unity Right Here.

So, grasshopper, you seek unity, yes? Well, my little duffle bag, lookie, lookie, lookie: we got your unity right here. The question is, how much unity can one party stand? Who are these guys? I thought this was supposed to be the Democratic National Convention. Where’s the squabbling? Where’s the back- stabbing and pistol- whipping? I’m not sure I can relate to these people. They’re, what do you call it, organized. The only way to make this convention any more unified is to fill the Pepsi Center with gelatin and have the speakers swim to the podium. Especially compared to the Republican party where John McCain and the GOP platform committee are at odds, especially on the subjects of global warming and immigration, which McCain believes in and the Party doesn’t. Back in Denver, Hillary Clinton nailed her dismount like Shawn Johnson in a slo- mo replay off the balance beam with the assistance of fiber optic cables. It wasn’t enough that the
vanquished Senator allowed the suspension of the rules to nominate Senator Barrack Obama by acclamation, she was able to get the Great State of Illinois, (yeah yeah yeah- Lincoln- Ulysses S Grant- never mention you’re also the birthplace Jeffrey Dahmer do ya?) to defer to the Great State of New York to let Hillary herself call for the suspension of the rules. In Democratic politics, this was like suspending the space- time continuum. I’m sure Obi Won felt a disturbance in the force. Now the next question is, will Senator Barack OBama accept the nomination? Yes. The excitement is so thick you could cut it with a soggy bar coaster. More later.

Overheard In Denver.

• “I just wish he’d go back to Barry.”
• “Get your mints. Free mints here. Impeach- mints.”
• “Oh no.” “What?” “Biden’s kid is named Beau.”
• “How come they’re all great states? How come nobody comes from a mediocre state?”
• “You sure that was Stephen Spielberg who directed that thing and not his brother Sheldon Spielberg?”
• “I swear to god. Better sushi than you can get in Tokyo.” “In Denver?!”
• “How was the party?” “I don’t remember how I got home.” “That good hunh?”
• “I don’t care about any stupid amendment. I want Bill to run again. And again. And again.”
• “Shit.” “What?” “Yankees lost again.” “They’re out of it.”
• “Wow. Chevy Chase is old.”
• “Nice hat. Is the donkey supposed to be pooping on the elephant or just sitting on him?”
• “She was wearing the orange pant suit to symbolize the political prison that all women are invisibly in.”
• “He’s not black. He’s more of a mocha.”
• “What’s the deal with the bathrooms? The men’s rooms have lines but the women’s rooms don’t. What’s up with that?”
• “Hey, Biden got a haircut.”
• “She’s had some work done.” “Some? I think scaffolding was involved.”
• “Did you realize Obama backwards is Amabo?”
• “I think McCain has Alzheimer’s. No, really, I’m serious. He’s losing it.”
• “I can’t understand a single word he’s saying. But he sure looks damn good saying it.”
• “Sean Penn was dressed like a homeless guy.” “If I had been dressed like that, they would have kicked me out.” “They did kick you out.” “See.”

Pro- Good. Anti- Bad.

You can sense it. People are in a state of shock here in Denver. In a surprise move, after a secret vote taken some time during the last day of their 45th quadrennial convention, the Democrats pronounced themselves to be firmly on the side of good, and although they acknowledge the existence of bad, after much internal struggle, they have reached an accord, and it is now apparent, they are aligned against it. You could go so far as to say, they are adamantly against all forms of bad. Including warm gin in martinis. So there you have it: the word out of the Pepsi Center- the Democrats have achieved a conversion to pro- good, anti- bad. This sweeping change in the direction of the party is thought to have been engineered by the Obama team in a radical departure from the "Good is sometimes good while Bad is nearly always bad" themes of previous tickets. The “feels good to be bad,” the "too much good can be bad" and "a little short term bad might be
good in the long run" splinter groups have had their credentials yanked and been given one way tickets back to Massachusetts and Northern California where they belong. There is a mood of optimism here and a sense of momentum. A feeling that after 8 long years of being locked out of the White House, perhaps now, their time has finally come. Again. To be honest, this reporter hasn't seen this kind of enthusiastic confidence since Boston, four long years ago.

Red Meat Stadia.

If earlier in the week, Michelle and Hillary hit homers and Bill Clinton knocked out a grand slam, it all just faded like batting practice in the fog after the candidate launched one over the scoreboard past the parking lot onto the closed and highly fortified empty expanse of Interstate 25 at the Obama- Rama held in the Barackopolis constructed on Invesco Field at the Mile High Stadium in Denver on Thursday. Yeah, I know, it’s a mouthful but to be truthful, so was the event. We weren’t just witnessing an acceptance speech, this was more of an ascension. And the 86,000 faithful in attendance were rewarded with a celebration anointing their messenger of hope to a higher plane. They danced and hugged and shouted and cried and acted like game show contestants moving onto the final stage. The big loser was Denver’s balloon guy, because apparently something silly like physics dictates you can’t have the traditional convention wrapper- upper balloon drop in an outdoor stadium. You can have fireworks, but it’s hard to tell which was the more spectacular; the pyrotechnics of the speech or those after. For all of you nay-sayers who worry that Democrats are overly addicted to sprouts and don’t do red meat, hah. That’s right, I say, hah. The junior Senator from Illinois showed up in a Hart- Schaffner & Marx butcher’s apron with a string of his opponent’s entrails in his teeth. And the Republicans have to recreate this next week? Good luck. I can’t imagine John McCain following this is if he dressed in spandex and lit himself on fire. Although, it would be fun to watch.

Kvetching And Convening

Now that the Olympic flame has been doused by the tears of a thousand jade blossoms, its time for America’s most athletically dexterous mutants to stash their red white and blue togs and head home. And the national spotlight turns to the political conventions featuring our most ethically dexterous mutants. We do cherish our little freak shows. The patriotic rhetoric and colors remain the same, only the fabric changes. Less emphasis on day- glo spandex and more on washable wool.

The major party conventions are like baseball, with the incumbents acting as the home team, giving the challengers first ups; the reason why we start off with the Democrats in Denver on Monday, then shoot east by northeast to St. Paul the following week. The score is kept in terms of “bounce.” But John McCain may have spotted the opposition a two run lead when he forgot how many houses he has. We could say the guy turns 72 next Friday. He’s probably not sure how many fingers he has. But that’s so unlike us.

The Mile High City and the Twin Cities’ Red Headed Step- Child promise to put their own inimitable spin on the proceedings. Buffalo burgers for the Dems and Juicy Lucys (a burger patty with cheese oozing out of the middle like lava) for the GOP. And in a twisted tamping down of the true tradition of the heartland, both sites have set up “free speech zones” which barely share the same area code with the events being protested. Of course, the chants will still maintain that, “the whole world is watching.” But in reality, it’s more like, “a tiny portion of America is casting half an eye towards us every now and then, maybe, we hope” kind of a thing.

Nobody knows why the parties continue to hold these over- staged inflated pseudo events when the bulk of the proceedings could be taken care of in a corner booth at Denny’s over a Grand Slam Breakfast. “All in favor of having the presumptive nominee be the actual nominee say ‘more pork sausage please.’ Okay, it’s unanimous. Sally, could you bring everybody their own carafe of syrup and drop the check at Microsoft, AT&T and GM’s table over there in the corner. That’s a darling.”

The thing is, political conventions are like Professional Wrestling. Even though you know what’s going to happen, every four years, it’s fun to watch one. And the Democrats are eminently more observable because no matter what high priced washed up Hollywood producer is trotted out to choreograph and shrink wrap the proceedings, getting Democrats to follow a party line script is like trying to barbecue squid on a chain link fence. Major slippage is bound to occur. Think 18 wheeler highway wreck squared. No one wants to see to actual blood or GORE, but who doesn't glance through a wince hoping to catch the Jaws of Life at work?

Even with their pulsating white hot Bush- loathing bonding them together like crayons left on a stove over Thanksgiving Day, the hair trigger self- destructo possibilities are endless. Will Al Gore channel the spirit of James Brown again? How will Teresa Heinz Kerry react when her credential gets pulled? Will Bill Clinton hit on Campbell Brown within camera range? Can Hillary Clinton contain her cackle? Be sure to tune in this week for your quadrennial dose of those demented Dems: Danger, Intrigue, Disorder.

And yes, he will be at the conventions. Blogging for progressive.org and performing at Lannie’s Clocktower in Denver on Friday the 29th. His new book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours.
Too Americas

Not content to be viewed as your ordinary run- of- the mill hypocritical oaf, former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards compounded his monumental weaseldom by trying to sneak an overdue admission of serial monogamy infractions under the cloak of the Beijing Olympics. Nice one John Boy. Surprised you neglected to blame the whole sordid affair on the little girl who lip- synced opening night because the real singer wasn't deemed cute enough by the Chinese Government. Question: how much cuter can one year old girl be than another?

What is this guy’s major malfunction? Has he not been paying attention? Does the term “impeachment proceedings” ring no bells here? The hell has he been doing since 1998? Eating fudge in a cave wearing earmuffs and galoshes? You’d think the public dredging of Bill Clinton through 24 months of partisan mud might intimidate a man with a penchant for $400 barber visits, wouldn't’t you? As clueless as a junior varsity cheerleader’s 5th Long Island Iced Tea.

Talk about arrogance. He made his Presidential run with the sheets still warm. Now imagine Camp Clinton trying to reconcile the fact that if this guy had come clean at the beginning of the primaries, Hillary’s dead solid lock on the nomination would have been sealed tighter than her smile after the Iowa Caucuses. The irony is so rich and thick you could mix it with water and call it a driveway.

Those 2 Americas of his are apparently those who barricade themselves from the press in hotel bathrooms and those who don’t. What is it with southern male Democrats? Why do they insist on having red neon romances with winsome business associates when the obvious antidote to their testosterone poisoning is the way of the northern Republican male. Anonymous sex in an airport men’s room stall? More importantly, why do they continue to commit the greatest political sin of getting caught? Is this a muffled cry for the spotlight to dim? The Carolina Lothario is giving Pretty Boys a bad name. Not that I’m affected or anything.

The Senator pleads he didn't instigate the affair with his videographer, (so that’s what they’re calling them these days) until after his wife’s cancer went into remission. Dude. Even if that’s true, as a defense, it is so, what is the word… sucky. Though he’s denied the affair since the National Enquirer broke it in October last year, his public admission incomprehensively included; “being 99 percent honest is not enough.” The hell does that mean? That his affair with Ms. Rielle Hunter constitutes only 1% of his peccadilloes? What worse transgressions lie festering under that rock hard helmet hair of his?

The one redeeming residual this squalid interlude hopefully will accomplish is to prod Barack Obama into being more circumspect with his VP decision than a safecracker in a nitroglycerin factory suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Especially considering the last two Democratic nominees, Edwards and Lieberman, will be as welcome at the Denver Convention as Chlamydia. Calling all liberal eunuchs. Now is the time to come to the aid of your party. Whoa. Not all at once people. The line forms on the right. I mean the left. Best you clump up there near the center. After all, that’s where the candidate is headed.

Catch Will Durst’s campaign update at Zanies, Downtown Chicago, on the 23rd & 24th. Yes, he will be at the conventions. Outside. Somewhere. Wandering around. Aimlessly.
His new book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Better bookstores. Not Borders.
Simple As Chinese Olympics

By now, if you are not in the early stages of tertiary overdose from cloyingly mawkish Up Close and Personal previews emanating out of that quadrennial athletic meet going down in Beijing, you should consider yourself as lucky as a John McCain handler at a canceled photo op in a grocery store. As they say up in Maine, “the sap is running.” I swear that if I hear the word “dream” uttered one more time, somebody at NBC is going to have chopsticks sticking out of parts of their body that chopsticks don’t normally stick out of.

They call it the games of the XXIX Olympiad, even though this is only the 26th time that games are actually being played. Don’t ask. It’s a math thing. A couple of assemblies back in the early 20th Century got called on account of Germans. As opposed to a couple of assemblies in the late 20th Century which should have been called on account of Germans playing fast and loose with the laws of gender. But I digress.

I realize that what I’m doing here might be misconstrued as ambushing the Olympic Torch with a Supersoaker full of wet blanket juice; so I implore the Chinese secret police to leave my email alone, because this askance glance will be tossed offhandedly aside with more than a modicum of taste and the barest minimum of cheap shots. Not to mention my own personal guarantee that no MSG will be added in the writing or the printing of this purported humor column. Never had it. Never will.

Here’s the shape of the bone stuck in my craw. China? What the hell? You got the world’s premier sporting event embedded for three weeks at a location where breathing itself is considered a competitive sport. Where javelins are in danger of finding a sticking place before they hit the ground. Where the term “hot dog” isn’t just a menu item, it doubles as an ingredient listing. And where the designated free speech zones are located next to mental asylums because history has shown that anybody who would publicly protest in China is crazy.

The trade- off to awarding these games to a country whose treatment of dissidents makes Guantanamo Bay look like a Nathan Lane Musical Comedy Summer Camp was supposed to be a pledge by the Chinese leaders that they would implement human rights reforms. But that promise was treated with the same regard that the Bush Administration might have for an unpopular US Supreme Court Decision. Look. Laugh. Toss. 2 points.

Here’s the tricky part. Mix all the above random vitriol with the little known fact that every Olympics host country gets to include its own event, bake at 250 for an hour forty and the resulting repast is the real reason for this rambling rhetoric. A little something I like to call, Will Durst’s Top Ten List of Possible New Events the Chinese Might Want to Include in the XXIX Olympiad.

10. Synchronized Waterboarding.
9. The Barbed Wire High Hurdles.
8. The Tibetan Monk Toss.
7. Starving Doberman Obstacle Relay.
6. Speed Wheezing.
5. The Re- Education Spiky Bamboo Pit Leap.
4. The Beach Border Minefield Crawl.
3. The Twelve Year Old Factory Worker Pee Hold Marathon.
2. Rhythmic Baton.
1. The Baby Girl Bayonet Stack.

Will Durst’s new book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Better bookstores. Not Borders. Yes, he will be at the conventions. Outside. Somewhere. Wandering around. Reach out to him.
Talking Veepstakes

This seems like a good time to talk about the race for the vice presidency. Not because of the overwhelming excitement involved in what is essentially a backstage safari. And not because of the dazzling personalities being rigorously vetted. Because nothing else is going on. Right now, the Veepstakes is the only game in town. The presidential campaign has entered what can only be described as its dormant hibernation phase. The whole damn thing has stalled like John Goodman over the dessert table at a 4 star casino’s Sunday Brunch on the Mississippi Coast. Think of an endlessly looping PBS pledge drive.

The candidates have abandoned the playing field and are sucking down Gatorade while the trainers search for additional wads of cash to stuff into the hollow portions of their uniforms. And the score at halftime finds Barack Obama leading John McCain by about 15 points. Which should excite Democrats. I mean the last time they had this kind of a lead, at this point in the race, was way, way back, 4 years ago when John Kerry enjoyed a similar lead over George Bush. Oh.

Meanwhile, welcome to silly season. To demonstrate their unity, former sworn mortal enemies, Senators Obama (Crips) and Clinton (Bloods) met up in a New Hampshire town named Unity where back in January, both received 107 votes. Get it? They’re not at each other’s throats anymore. They’re in Unity. You can’t make stuff up like this. And no, I have no idea if Truth or Consequences, New Mexico or Maggie’s Nipples, Wyoming were considered as alternates in case the civic fathers of Unity proved truculent.

We should relish these two months of campaign down- time before the conventions begin, and where just like now, absolutely nothing will happen. The only difference is then, that nothing will be reported upon at such a great length, that grown men are developing rashes on the insides of their thighs just thinking about it.

Who will be number 2? Nobody knows. And we might not for a while. This time around the VP picks are undergoing prodigious scrutiny due to the peculiar vulnerability of each of the nominees. John McCain is old and could nod off at any time and Barack Obama is black and will have to campaign in America, a country more comfortable with guns than library cards. No word as to whether that whole library card thing is scheduled for any future Supreme Court docket.

Both secondary races are wide open and the speculation is so thick you can hide small clusters of cherry tomatoes in the smoke coming out of Chris Mathews’ ears. You got your public short list and you got your private shorter list and then you got your slip of paper with Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney’s names on it, who only get the nod if every other politician in America co- incidentally trips and falls into an active lava tube.

Some people say that the Vice President doesn’t affect the general election. Maybe not, but the choice of the Vice President does have an impact. Do the names Eagelton, Ferraro, and Quayle have any meaning here? How bout Admiral Stockdale, Ross Perots’s running mate in 92. “Who am I? Why am I here?” A question never adequately answered. For him or for us. Or for our current presumptive nominees.

Political comic and author, Will Durst will be appearing at Rainbow Books in Madison, Wisconsin on July 2nd, on CNN’s This Week in Politics on July 5th and 6th, the Mason City Limits Comedy Club on July 11th & 12th, and at the Springfield, Illinois Barnes & Noble on the 12th.
His book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Better bookstores. Not Borders.

I’m a little worried about John McCain. Not simply because of that nasty looking marsupial pouch stapled to his upper neck, but because he seems determined to wrong headedly barrel down a path more dangerous than slaloming downhill blindfolded on a black diamond course with barbed wire gates at night. Let me explain. A while back, the erstwhile Senator from Arizona scheduled a fundraiser featuring President Bush at the Convention Center in Phoenix. But a few Democrats who weren’t distracted by the ugly alley fight going on behind their own garage raised a stink. So they threw the most exquisitely horrible epithet at the Senator they could think of- John McBush.

This insult and some like it proved to be the motivation to move McCain’s intimate soiree to a private home in Phoenix. Lots of deep- pocketed big time potential donors were invited but strangely, not the media. I’m guessing he’s a mite reluctant to have that part of the electorate known as The Undecided see him all tarted up in fishnets and heels, dancing around a greased pole in front of his big Crawford Sugar Daddy. And if that image excites you, seek therapy.

The problem is even though the two get along like a cobra and a mongoose, Mr. McCain is really broke and must needs suck at George Bush’s silicone enhanced money tit, but isn’t all that anxious to have a record of it. Typical case of needing the cash, but not the photo- op. Just another politician who wants to have his cake with the rich green icing flowing down and eat it too. Stuck between a despised lunkhead and a barren bank account. Damned if he does and doomed if he don’t. Can’t live with the president and can’t take a ball peen hammer to his head and crack him open like a piggy bank then get down on his knees and scoop up every single coin that falls to the floor even those that roll under the dresser.

Say what you will about the President, he knows how to turn the switch that greases the gears of the Republican Party Cash Machine. Oh sure, he may have an approval rating lower than a puppy- eating cobra, but this puppy- eating cobra lays the golden egg. The last seven years have been very very good for America’s wealthy which means the wealthy still like George Bush very very much and they will pay very very good money to hang out and have their pictures taken with him. He’s not only a rich person, he’s a rich person’s rich person. And though he may have to bite his tongue and hold his nose, Mr. McCain is smart enough to squeeze into those pictures. And do what he can to keep them from getting published.

If George W Bush really wants to help John McCain, the best way to do it is avoid the Senator like a swimming pool full of squirming mongooses. Walk away from the diving board. Go back into the changing room. Put your street clothes on. Then from the cool dark recesses of a remote cavern in the wilds of Utah, write a series of nice big fat checks. Come to think of it, sounds like a pretty good way to help me out as well. You too, I bet.

Durst's book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours.

Top Twenty Reasons
Hillary Clinton Should Stay In The Race

Even though the dogged Hillary Clinton is being encouraged by friend and foe and pundit alike to drop out of the Democratic Presidential Primary, there is a contingent that thinks her best move is to dig in her heels and bite the hand off of anyone who tries to restrain her. Admittedly, that contingent is mostly made up of me and a couple other guys in the editorial cartoonist world. But seriously, what the hell, she's come this far. Who quits within sight of the finishing line of a marathon? It's like climbing 890 steps of the Washington Monument, then turning around and going back down after the gun sounds. No. Walk the final three. And in an attempt to nudge her steadfastness into calcifying unity, I've doubled your usual top ten list, and come up with twenty reasons why the Junior Senator from New York should stick it out the bitter end, and when I say bitter, I mean bitter. No need to thank me, I'm here to help. Although, tips are always appreciated.

20. With the May Sweeps over, you and Barack are the only serial left on air worth watching.
19. WWERD. What would Eleanor Roosevelt Do?
18. You're faster and you outweigh him. He wouldn't last three rounds in a ring.
17. What kind of message does throwing in the towel now send to America's youth?
16. If they want you out, let them try something. They'll soon find out, it'll take more than a village.
15. Meteor showers. Lots and lots of meteor showers. One of which could strike Barack right in the head. At any time.
14. For posterity’s sake. Or is it posterior’s sake?
13. You going to waste all those months training for Denver’s altitude?
12. Summer vacation coming and it's too expensive to go overseas.
11. Who knows? Maybe Puerto Rico will tap into a vast pool of undiscovered oil and get ratified as a state in time for the Convention?
10. It's either this or you go home and listen to Bill bitch bitch bitch. "I could have been !st Gentleman" this. And "I could have been Attorney General" that.
9. Grrrl Power!
8. What's that old saying: as go Montana and North Dakota, so goes the world?
7. Now, people can look at Chelsea and say, "Well, it's easy to see which side of the family she got her stubbornness."
6. You want that Vice Presidential nod, you get it the old fashioned way: you earn it.
5. From now on, whenever people speak about the hardest- working woman in politics, they're talking about you, little lady.
4. For the healthy and nutritious road food.
3. Staying in the race guarantees your knitting circlewill never call you a quitter.
2. Be honest: What else you got going on?
1. Spite. Just do it for spite.

Catch Will Durst at a read and sign event (see schedule). His book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, is available at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours.
It's Over

I'm not saying Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's historic presidential run is toast. Finished. Down the drain. Caput. Washed up. History. A memory. In the archives. Defunct. Extinct. Artifacto. Took a hike. Sleeping with the fishes. Part of the vast past tense. Joined the choir invisible. Totally obliterated. Entering Sidekick City. Sheer finito. Thoroughly through. Down goes Frasier. Swept away by the Tahiti Express. See ya: Wouldn't want to be ya. So long and sayonara sweetheart. Became an ex- presidential run. Experiencing fossilization. Stick a fork in her- she's done. Game over, man. Say bye.

No. No. No. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that it's down to the wire but that wire is starting to unravel. She's hanging by a thread, down to her last dime and the wheels are coming off. Its two outs, two strikes, nobody on, bottom of the ninth and she's behind by about 142. Got her back up against the wall because an elephant is standing on the couch with the remote. Its closing time: and she don't have to go home but she can't stay here. The window of opportunity has slammed shut on her fingers while hanging outside onto the sill 12 stories up. Her time clock has been punched by a mob of boxing kangaroos. Half of her team is handing her a white flag to wave and the other half is throwing in a towel on her behalf.

She's down to the last banana in the bunch and even though that one is pretty bruised up, the tarantulas won't let her go there anyway. She's going down for the umpteenth time in high seas. The 2- minute warning was a minute fifty ago and its 4th and 97. The undertaker is walking this way pulling out a tape measure while whistling to the jingling of the nails in his pocket. The horse she rode in on can smell its stall and is starting to gallop. The fat lady has adjusted her horn helmet and is reaching for the throat spray. Could that be the referee looking at his watch with the whistle in his mouth and he's starting to pucker? Why yes, it could. Not to mention the train has pulled out of the station and the conductor is waving a lantern from the railing of the caboose.

They say that anything can happen, and it can, except for what the Junior Senator from New York needs to have happen, and that, my friends, simply can't happen. Or could it? A week is a year in politics. The moon could fall out of the sky. Pigs could sprout wings and fly to Mars. Jeremiah Wright could have another attack of the talkies. Who knows? Bill could rustle up the Arkansas Calvary to ride to her rescue. Look. Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a flock of Superdelegates. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Unh, no, sorry. Its Obama with a flashlight directing her to the shoulder and he's repo- ing the Clinton bandwagon. The math just doesn't work. We've moved from the eminently possible to the minorly theoretical. Unless, that is; something really really odd happens. Which it very well could. At any moment. But then again, probably not. Oh yeah. It's over.

Catch Durst at Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle on Thursday, May 15, and Powell's in Portland on Friday, May 16th. AND order his book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available now at Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours.

All I want to know is— the hell is the big deal? Settle down. People, you're going to pop an embolism the size of a balloon poodle tail. I'm talking about the reaction to the 6 to 3 vote by the Supreme Court upholding an Indiana law that requires a person to show a photo ID in order to vote. And some folks are simply foaming with apoplexy. By the sound of their little fists pounding on various semi- solid surfaces, you'd a thunk they had just discovered that rhythmic clapping doesn't really bring faeries back to life. So you got to show a government issued ID? So what? You're voting. It's a privilege. Earn it. You have to prove you're registered in the district in which you are voting, don't you?

I understand this means I'm throwing in with Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, signaling some sort of serious rift in the space- time continuum, but at least I have the solace of knowing that Justice Stevens is snuggling up with us in the ugly tent. He said: "for most voters, the inconvenience of gathering the required documents and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden." Obviously Justice Stevens doesn't drive a lot these days, or he'd realize any time spent at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is cruel and unusual. Maybe he's saying the old and the poor have time to wait in line for an ID. At 88, he should know.

For crum's sake. You need a photo ID to cash a check. To buy beer. To rent a porn video. To board an airplane. To enter big downtown Federal buildings. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be surprised to find out you need to show an ID to get into the very buildings that issue the IDs. Which admittedly, is a tricky bit. I'll be honest here: I hate having to show my ID. And what I hate even more is the general attitude of the people requesting to see it. Usually it's in a tone of aggressive entitlement like a distracted trust fund baby asking for the keys to her BMW with eyes down and palm up. But you know what? I do it. Why? Because I'm a brain dead arms outstretched drooling zombie tool of the right wing? No, because I want to cash a check to buy some beer or board an airplane with a carry- on full of porn, that's why.

What I most especially hate is when they take my license out of my hand and put it down for later consultation. Hey! Hey! Mr. or Mrs. clerk type person, here's the deal. You want to see my ID? OK. Here's my ID. Look at it. You don't need to hold it or caress it or put it down on a napkin in the greasy spot where hunks of your Cinnabon with extra frosting still lurk. Not to mention, GERMS- BUDDY. And let's level the playing field here. If I show you mine, I want to see yours. How am I supposed to know you're who you say you are. This should be mandatory at banks. "Yeah, sure, no problem, I'll deposit my money with your lovely establishment, as soon as you show me two forms of ID and tell me your mother's maiden name."

Order Durst's book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available now at Amazon. B & N. Harry Schwartz, etc. You've been to the Cineplex. You know where the popcorn stand is.
Post Pennsylvania Primary Punditry

Order another bag of peanuts, pass the cotton candy and get used to the smell of sawdust, because the circus tour has been extended. Yes, my friends, welcome to the primary that will not die. You'd think that after 6 thrill- filled weeks of hosting this sideshow competition of rival ring- masters outdoing each other in the Like A Normal Human Animal Act, the State of Pennsylvania would selflessly provide the rest of the country with a semblance of closure by permanently pulling up the stakes of this traveling Big Top. But no. They got addicted to the sound of calliope music and don't want the spectacle to end. Selfish bastards.

While we watched over their shoulders, the residents of the Keystone State had a front row bench seat view of the wacky zany antics of two of America's finest moral contortionists variously indulging in comedic bowling, throwing back shots with beers (performed a little too expertly, if you ask me) imaginary sniper fire dodging and way more information about spiritual advisors than we needed. All the while we oohed and aaahed and shoveled handfuls of funnel cake into our mouths, then stood up to put on our coats ready to head home and pore over the handbill for the Circus Maximus about to parade into town, but while we were digging for our keys, Pennsylvania wiped some peanut shells off the bench and sat back down.

All that was left was to light the ceremonial fuse to fire the shot that announced the ending of this historic freak show media encampment. But something happened. The human cannonball got stuck. Or the sword swallower sneezed. Or the clowns got lost in the basement of the car. Or they needed to reduce their inventory of corn dogs. Or maybe the problem was Hill and Bare themselves. Perhaps their prop masters didn't trust them to execute the tightrope shootout which explains why instead of exploding, their guns just popped out sticks that said "Bang."

Hillary Clinton didn't win Pennsylvania, she survived. Long enough for another attempt to nail that elusive quadruple on the flying trapeze. But the net is gone and the clock is ticking. The Junior Senator from New York may have bested the Junior Senator from Illinois by nearly ten percentage points but at the rate she cut into his delegate lead, she's on pace to overtake him sometime during the middle of his second term.

To the elders of the Democratic Party, this is Worst- Case Scenario City: harmless carnival attraction twists into a grisly horror movie in the middle of the final reel. The political variation of Saw V. Two people. Locked inside of a single country. Each with a war chest of souped up power tools. And this time, the electricity is on.

The answer to the double billing conundrum is obvious; Unfortunately, there are only two Democrats in America who aren't salivating like trained dogs at the idea of the Obama and Clinton Dream Ticket and those two Democrats are Obama and Clinton. Meanwhile, John McCain is free to stumble around the country frightening children.

So, go ahead, re- inflate those mylar balloons, but keep them out of reach of the candidates because at this point, their first inclination will be to strangle each other with them. And someone warn Indiana and North Carolina that the circus is coming to town, and the acrobats are brandishing chain saws.

Durst's book, , available now Amazon. B & N. Politics and Prose. You've been to the rodeo. You know where the barbecue stand is.The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing

President Whatshisname

I think its time you and I had us a talk about President Whatshisname. Certainly time somebody spoke of him. Because I'm not sure anybody's noticed, but he seems to have disappeared lately. And don't go all blank on me: You know who I'm talking about. The guy in charge. Supposedly. The Decider. Mr. Mission- Not- Quite- Accomplished. The scaly dragon the Democrats forged the armor of their entire campaign to fight against has turned into the Incredible Shrinking Man and he just can't stop. As forgotten as the stitching contractor for the 54 DeSoto Diplomat seat vendor. And while the Democrats ignore him, the Republicans have implemented a policy barring any reference to him under penalty of severe twingeing.

He went somewhere recently. Overseas I think. And met up with this other guy who could have been Russian and who may or may not be leaving his job soon just like our guy and the two of them together were as useless as a Powerpoint presentation on Viagra at a Eunuchs convention. Lame duck doesn't even come close here. A meeting of clipped winged hawks with 20 pound weights tied to their talons. A comatose vulture summit. Crippled geese. Biologically deformed Pterodactyl fossils encased in the amber pool of irrelevance, obsolescence and guilt. Whoa. OK. I'm done.

Then a few days ago, our guy, whatshisname, Bush, held a press conference to admonish Congress about something really important. OK, something kind of important. It was importantish. He said. The problem is, no one paid any attention at all to what he was saying. According to the people who actually claimed to have listened, (being paid quite handsomely to do so) it had something to do with Colombia. The country, not the District. And it concerned free trade. Or maybe it didn't. Perhaps it was Columbus, Ohio and trade fairs. Or the Colombia River Valley and fir trees. Or he quite possibly might have been expressing his admiration for 50s singing sensation Teresa Brewer and her unheralded, yet pivotal role in promoting the Tennessee Valley Authority's capacity to produce power from hydroelectric dams. Who knows? It's all a blur.

Like everyone else, most Americans were too busy watching the angry white woman and the serene black guy going at it with claw hammers. I'm sorry. I mean they were busy watching the surrogates of the angry white woman and the serene black guy go at it with claw hammers. And the surrogates are running out of claw hammers. And the candidates are running out of surrogates. And John McCain is floating through with the look that he has absolutely no idea what a bush is unless you're talking about defoliated shrubbery that can be used for political cover. Which any military man can understand.

Reputedly, there was yelling. As there often is. And the upshot is, Congress had better get their butts in gear and do exactly what he says or all kinds of holy hell is going to break loose and don't get him mad because you're not going to like him when he's mad. And Congress's response was along the lines of "Hunh? What? Who's mumbling? Oh. Yeah, I guess. Whatever. And if we don't do what you want us to do, then you're going to do what? Not assist us with our re- election campaigns? Oh gosh. That would be disastrous."

And, there's Durst's book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available now Amazon. B & N. Book Passage. You’ve been to the beach before. You know the drill.
The Puppy Party

Poor Hillary. Everybody wants her to quit. Nancy Pelosi wants her to quit. Michelle Obama wants her to quit. Wouldn't be surprised to hear Fidel Castro thinks she's been hanging on too long. Even pundits who don't really want her to quit are calling for her to quit because the next vote isn't for three weeks and they're caught in the Primary Dead Zone Vortex and like an excited terrier piddling in the stairwell at the sound of the key in the door, just can't help themselves.

The media chorus is as insistent as a 3 am car alarm: "Its time to go. Leave now while you have a shred of dignity intact. You're ruining it for everyone. How can we hug and kiss Barack when you're still wrestling with him, you sweaty old hag?" She, in turn, has put a brave face on her acknowledged uphill battle, comparing herself to Rocky Balboa, but seems to have forgotten, that in the first movie, Rocky loses. To a black guy.

The Left has long held a deep- seated need to fall in love with their candidate and while people may respect Hillary, she's as cuddly as a stainless steel teddy bear. Dora the Diaspora. A burlap banky. Besides, like her beloved Chicago Cubs, there is always next year. Say the GOP does bury Obama like a bone in the backyard of the 2008 election; she can run in 2012 on the "I told you so" ticket.

The Democrats have only themselves to blame for getting locked into this steel cage death match of theirs. Due to an inability to stifle an insatiable urge to comfort and coddle. Like everything they touch, they insist on treating primary participants like a litter of newborn puppies with learning disabilities. Shar- Pei puppies. The cutest kind. As opposed to the Republicans, who have more of a warrior slash and burn kind of philosophy. You win a state. You get the delegates. All the delegates. No wimpering. Shut up and sit down Mitt.

The Nanny Party, however, rewrote the rules to make sure nobody accidentally gets their feelings hurt. Because every one of us is special. You win a state, you get SOME of the delegates. And if you come in second, you get some too. Third? You bet. Have a couple delegates. Take one of the short ones. Fourth. Fifth. Sure, what the hell. And counseling is available. Everybody's a winner here. Because this isn't about electing a President, this is about sharing and caring and nurturing. Nobody goes away feeling like a loser in the Democratic Party. Except during the general election that is.

Hell, the Dems even figured out how to defy math. In the Nevada caucuses, Hillary received 51% of the vote compared to Obama's 45%, but Obama won more delegates. Well, there's your problem people. Simple arithmetic. Apparently, not one of your strong suits. And they still wonder why they lost in 2000 and 2004.

Why is it such a bad thing that this might not get sorted out till August in Denver? After all, isn't that what the conventions are for? And we haven't even addressed the whole super delegate mess. Of course if the super delegates had any sense of theater, they'd enter the convention at the Pepsi Center wearing tights and capes. But then the pledged delegates might feel less special. And require therapy.

Comic, actor, author, Will Durst thinks Hillary Clinton is this close to becoming a stalker.
Catch Durst's blog, "Atmosphere" coming from the 2008 Masters Tournament @ masters.org.
Politics Aren't Us

Oh man, it's a good thing I'm not a politician. For me. For you. For the planet Jupiter. Not just because I'd expend all my political capital attempting to get rid of that primitive custom known as bartime. And then try to roll back the scourge of those silly speed limit restrictions. I mean, what's the sense of selling Shelby Mustang GTs if you can't blow out the carbs once in a while? And what about society's unconscionably puritanical obsession with sex workers? Who's with me here? Hugh Grant? Eddie Murphy? Governor Spitzer? Senator Vitter? Somebody, back me up.

You can't say I didn't give it a go either. Politics, that is. Not prostitution. But then, they're easy to mix up. Back in 87, I ran for mayor of San Francisco. Spent $1500. Came in fourth out of 11. Got 2% of the vote. The three guys who beat me out each spent over a million dollars apiece. So on a dollar per vote basis, I am mayor of San Francisco. Of course, no matter what incentives were offered, those persnickety, math obsessed electoral commissioners continually failed to come around to my way of thinking.

I did learn a couple of things, such as when you yell out at candidate forums: "The hell you looking at?" most of your prospective constituents don't get the joke. Also, it turns out I have less patience dealing with total stone crazed loonies than most octogenarians have with hard plastic bubble packaging. Apparently, diplomacy and Durst go together like Picasso and popsicles. Like hardwood screws and garbage disposals. John Goodman and thongs. Cigarettes and Santa Monica. Hot dogs and opera. You get the picture.

Oh sure, I've made a halfway decent living mocking and scoffing and taunting our various elected officials, but what most of us fail to appreciate are the necessary complement of specialized growths our beleaguered civil servants are forced to sprout. Slippery skills, like appearing way too happy to see people you don't even know. How to wear clothes so boring, tailors weep in your presence. Or saying stuff you don't really mean for fear of inflicting possible offense upon potential contributors you wouldn't be caught dead with in a zombie infested chemical lab sub basement huddling from rampaging mutants. And yes, I am talking about pollsters.

For instance, look at what occurred over the last week to the three presidential candidates. Barack Obama was forced to declare he doesn't share all the views of his minister. Which should have been implicit to begin with. After all, 44% of this country is Catholic, but does that mean our national pastime is double dating altar boys? I think not. Then John McCain got himself castigated mightily for mixing up the Sunnis and Shiites. Or did he? Has anyone considered this might just be a clever campaign ploy to nail down that coveted swing vote consisting of stupid people?

And who among us could hold our tongues like Chelsea Clinton did after some cretin wondered about her mother's response to Monica Lewinsky. My retort: "Blow it out your butt, dirtbag" would have garnered equal time with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on a FOX News loop. Speaking of Chelsea's mom, one can't help but admire her steady eye and straight face when explaining how she misspoke about coming under hostile fire in Bosnia 12 years ago. My guess is eventually it will be revealed that it wasn't her, it was her husband, and it wasn't Bosnia, it was their bedroom. See, not very politic. Told you.

Hints On How To Cover The Historic '08 Candidacies

This campaign has been tough on everybody, but particularly on members of the media who find themselves stymied when trying to navigate this year's historic candidacy minefield. And since all three candidates have proven to be a bit, shall we say, delicate, a hastily compiled handy reference guide about how to cover the most exciting political sensations of this or indeed, many a generation, is in order.


• Avoid the word "female."

• Do not under any circumstances use the Senator's maiden name.

• It is sexist to question whether the candidate's alleged marriage is legit, or to say anything about her husband. Positive or negative.

• Do not call Hillary Clinton "shrill." The candidate is penetrating and sharp; intense, passionate and fervent, but not shrill. Or strident.

• Please refrain from referring to the Senator as a witch or anything that rhymes with it.

• It is bad form to ask where Senator Clinton got her 35 years of experience. She got it the old fashioned way; she earned it.

• Do not call her husband an oaf. He is a lummox.

• Please do not remark on what the candidate is wearing any more than if she were a man. Especially blue pant- suits.

• Refrain from making comparisons to any other female politicians. Especially Geraldine Ferraro.

• Discussions of a candidate's physical characteristics have no place in serious campaign reportage. Her membership in the Big Calves Society is off- limits.


• Avoid the word "race."

• Do not under any circumstances use the Senator's middle name.

• It is racist to question whether the candidate's alleged religion is legit, or to say anything about his minister. Positive or negative.

• Do not call Barack Obama "articulate." The candidate is eloquent and coherent; lucid, persuasive and expressive, but not articulate. Or clean.

• Please refrain from making comparisons to any other black politicians. Especially Jesse Jackson.

• You are requested not to use the words black, brown, white, red, yellow, pink, charcoal, onyx or inky. Ebony and obsidian are OK.

• The Senator is not gamin. He is lithe with the audacity of hope.

• All masculine youths will be referred to as young male children. Similarly, buoys shall henceforth be "floating markers."

• If you eat chicken at one of the candidate's events, make sure it is boneless, skinless and sautéed, not fried. It should neither be recognizable as a breast, a leg, a thigh or a wing, but rather be amorphous yet inspiring.

• The cheap and demeaning "Obambi" is out of bounds, and neither is he doe- eyed. His eyes are alive with the promise of tomorrow.


• Avoid the word "old."

• The Senator's middle name is Sidney. Go ahead; use it.

• It is ageist to question whether the candidate's alleged infidelity is legit, or to say anything about his supposed girlfriend looking exactly like his wife. Just chalk it up to a case of mistaken identity.

• Please refrain from making comparisons to any other former veterans. Especially Captain Queeg.

• Stop asking for a demonstration of the candidate's authenticity. You wouldn't recognize it if you saw it anyhow.

• You should not call John McCain "prickly." The candidate is penetrating and sharp; intense, passionate and fervent, but not prickly. Neither is he shrill, grouchy, irritable or cantankerous. Or crabby or belligerent. Or grumpy. Or crotchety.

• Cindy McCain is the candidate's wife, not his attending nurse.

• When referring to a Vice President assuming the duties of the Presidency, please speak about this happening in the case of incapacitation, not death.

• You are requested not to use the words 'getting" and "on" next to each other in a sentence. Or "wizened," "elderly," "coot" or "geezer." "Mature" and "sage- like" are OK.

• Remarks about Early Bird Dinners are not appreciated.

Comic, author, former dishwasher at the Grand Canyon and radio talk show host, Will Durst, thinks a muzzle is in order. For everyone.
Catch Durst and Willie Brown's new podcast @ www.willandwillie.com.
50 Suggestions
For John McCain's Vice Presidential Short List.

WARREN BUFFET. World's richest man can't hurt, in case the campaign needs a loan. Or the country.

JAMES EARL JONES. The most trusted voice in show business.

DAN QUAYLE. Knows the drill.

ED MCMAHON. Knows the drill AND he knows the intro: "Here's Joohhhnyyyyyy."

RONALD REAGAN. Quit pussyfooting around. It's what the base wants. Who cares if he's dead? How much less animated is that from second term?

JEB BUSH. Ups the Bush streak to seven of last eight GOP tickets.

JOE LIEBERMAN. Invests campaign with bipartisan spin. Also returns "Joementum to national lexicon.

KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON. Takes "woman" thing out of play.

CINDY MCCAIN. Takes "woman" thing out of play, and keeps it in the family.

COLIN POWELL. Takes "black" thing out of play.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE. Takes "woman and black" things out of play.

GEORGE CLOONEY. Takes "woman" thing out of play.

JOAN RIVERS. Takes "old" thing out of play. "Woman" thing still in play.

LARRY KING. Takes "old" and "woman" things out of play.

ANDY ROONEY. Really takes "old" thing out of play. No, really.

ALAN GREENSPAN. Wasn't everything a whole lot better when he was in charge? And takes "old" thing out of play.

MARY CHENEY. Takes "lesbian" and "unwed mother" things out of play.

DICK CHENEY. What the hell. Something to be said for continuity.

FRED THOMPSON. Throws a bone to the conservative wing and makes candidate appear vibrant.

REGIS PHILBIN. A touch of Hollywood. Old Hollywood but Hollywood nonetheless.

MIKE HUCKABEE. Plays popular former Governor of Arkansas card.

RUDI GIULIANI. Sop to huge pro-choice, pro gay rights, pro-gun control wing of the GOP. Not to mention NEW YORK.

HILLARY CLINTON. Wants it so bad, she'd cross the aisle for death-watch slot.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG. Independents? You want independents? We got your independents right here.

MIA HAMM. Soccer Moms? You want soccer moms. We got your soccer moms right here.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. NASCAR dads? You want NASCAR dads? We got your NASCAR dads right here.

RON PAUL. Two words. Texas Dammit.

TOM CRUISE. Scientologists are to Republicans what vegans are to hippies.

ADMIRAL STOCKDALE. Because America loves second chances.

CHUCK NORRIS. Locks down Huckabee contingent and firms up "Total Kick Ass" Presidential ticket.

ELLIOTT SPITZER Because America loves second chances.

THE VERIZON "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW" GUY. Brings huge network with him.

PAT ROBERTSON. You want to suck up to the Christian Right. Then suck up to the Christian Right.

MITT ROMNEY. Just to exploit the incredible chemistry between the two.

CHER. Campaign will never suffer from lack of wigs. BRETT FAVRE. Terrific name recognition. Needs a job. Sews up Wisconsin and Mississippi.

JOHN MADDEN. Who doesn't love John Madden? Brings total telestrator dominance to ticket.

KEIFER SUTHERLAND. What right winger doesn't love Jack Bauer? Torture question becomes moot.

TED WILLIAMS' HEAD. Future focused. Travel costs slashed. Low maintenance.

RUSH LIMBAUGH. If you can't beat them, conjoin them.

WILLIE NELSON. You have any idea of what percentage of this country smokes pot?

SNOOP DOG. Puts the shasizzle back in the campaignizzle.

STEPHEN HAWKING. Not American born. But who would quibble with smartest man in the world?

DONALD TRUMP. Makes everyone look humanoid in comparison.

SONNY VAN BULOW. Like Terry Shiavo, only alive. And rich.

KARL ROVE. Assassination insurance.



JACK KEVORKIAN. Looking to enter politics and makes top of the ticket lovable and youthful and animated. Also, see Karl Rove.

G. GORDON LIDDY. Because there comes a time when every president needs a human firewall.

Comic, author, former oyster shucker and radio talk show host, Will Durst, is betting on some anonymous Midwestern Governor with little if any track record.
Catch Durst and Willie Brown's new podcast @ Willandwillie.com. Or pre order Durst's new book, The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available from Ulysses Press on May 1st. New? First.
Hillary Clinton: Undead.

Brazenly defying logic, momentum, expectations, poll numbers, gravity, and the old wives' advice not to venture into the water within an hour of eating, Hillary Clinton unaccountably still lives. She's like one of those zombies in a John Carpenter movie that you shoot and stab and knock upside the head with a nail studded two by four dipped in some rare poisonous South American toad secretion. And she just keeps coming at you. Slowly she turns. Inch by inch. Step by step. I don't know if she sold her soul to the devil or Bill had unnatural congress with a Voodoo Queen or the voters in Texas and Ohio were subjected to subliminal messages in their cereal ads or what. Perhaps she's just plucky.

I do know this must be frustrating as hell for Barack Obama, who has to be imploring the gods (none Muslim as far as I know) for a hint of exactly what its going to take to put this soulless banshee permanently down. Decapitation, a silver bullet in the ear or wooden stake through the heart; but even then, he'd best be advised not to turn his back on the remains. Because every time he straightens up, brushes off and looks directly into the camera reaching out to take the Democratic damsel triumphantly in his arms, Hillary's face pops up behind him with an evil gleam in her eye and some superdelgate entrails hanging out of her mouth stretching out both hands for his neck. She walks the earth as one of the undead.

To add insult to injury, in her morning- show, victory- tour the day after convincing the electorate in both must- win states that she was most ready to straddle the fence on Day One, the junior senator from New York strongly hinted she'd be willing to share the ticket with the junior senator from Illinois. Of course who would be on top is still up for debate. But isn't that pretty much true in every relationship? And to say that each side believes their candidate deserves to head the ticket is surprising in the same way as discovering vampires think daytime is overrated.

Her musing stirred elements of the Democratic base into a frothing mob brandishing torches and pitchforks screaming for what they breathlessly refer to as the Dream Ticket. And it's called that because if you even for a minute, think that America would elect both a black man and a woman at the same time, you are too deep in the throes of REM slumber to think straight and are begging for 30,000 volts be applied to the bolts on the side of your neck.

As for a candidate promising things they don't plan to deliver, well, that is not a new element in this campaign: Is it Mr. Canadian ambassador NAFTA reformer guy? Nonetheless, until he sews this thing up tighter than the wrappings of a fat mummy in a humid tomb, Mr. Obama might want to sleep with one eye open, under a canopy of crucifixes inside a holy water moat on a bed of consecrated garlic. In a church. Not a Mosque. You know. Just in case. Better safe than sorry. Ounce of prevention and all. And I'd be extra special careful in Pennsylvania. After all, their primary is April 22nd, only two days after a full moon. I'm just saying.

Political comic, author, former radio talk show host and margarine smuggler, Will Durst, laments that no one ever addresses the heartbreak of lycanthropy.
32 Short Thoughts About Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader. Officially threw his hat in the ring for president. Again. His fourth attempt. Shouldn't three strikes apply here?

Ralph Nader. The Doctor Kevorkian of presidential politics.

Ralph Nader. Like a lefter Dennis Kucinich minus the hot wife and massive groundswell of public support.

Ralph Nader. Liberal response: Good message. Bad delivery. Awful timing.

Ralph Nader. Conservative response: If you need any help with ballot access, let us know.

Ralph Nader. A retired two term ex President if hippies ruled the world.

Ralph Nader. Still serving life without parole if General Motors ruled the world.

Ralph Nader. First name is colloquial synonym for the rapid expulsion of stomach contents as a result of a series of involuntary muscle spasms whose appearance generally signals the host is sick or drunk. Not that that means anything.

Ralph Nader. Surname is homonym of nadir: which means lowest point possible. The opposite of zenith. Not that that means anything.

Ralph Nader. Makes Barack Hussein Obama look like a centrist.

Ralph Nader. Makes John Sidney McCain look vivacious.

Ralph Nader. Middle name is Moral Victory.

Ralph Nader. In 00, saw no difference between Al Gore and George Bush. Still denies missing repeated optometrist appointments.

Ralph Nader. Fervently believes the truth can affect change. Has yet to learn the American electorate would rather drink unfiltered haggis juice straight from the tap with their hands tied behind their backs with live copperhead snakes than confront the truth.

Ralph Nader. A Pisces.

Ralph Nader. Born in a Year of the Dog.

Ralph Nader. Not a Socialist. But not unlike one either.

Ralph Nader. Older than John McCain. Whiter than Barack Obama. More Y chromosomes than Hillary Clinton. But all three were close.

Ralph Nader. Three time recipient of the "Tony Orlando Coasting on Your Decades Old Reputation" Award.

Ralph Nader. Michael Moore- 19 years and 10 months hence.

Ralph Nader. When Bad Things Happen to Good People in Sears and Roebuck Suits.

Ralph Nader. Made the cars we drive safer and George Bush president. That's what you call your trade- off.

Ralph Nader. Yet to hold electoral office. Apparently not complicit with that whole "presidency should not be an entry level position" cabal.

Ralph Nader. Like a scowling Ross Perot with a Harvard Law degree.

Ralph Nader. A saint, a visionary and a genius.

Ralph Nader. A fool with the same common sense that god gave a bucket of claw hammers.

Ralph Nader. Harold Stassen for the MTV generation.

Ralph Nader. Unsafe at Any Speed is now him in a crosswalk.

Ralph Nader. Possesses the sense of humor of an end table.

Ralph Nader. Would rather be right in public than left at home.

Ralph Nader. People's lobbyist or Judas Goat?

Ralph Nader. Dramatically intones that if America is to become better, it first has to get worse.

NEWS FLASH. It's worse! We don't want worser. This is worsest we can stand.

Shut Up.

Shut up. Please shut up. No. Really. Shut up. Shut Up. Shut UP. I know you think I'm kidding here, but I'm not. Pretty please. Shut the hell up. Honest to god, it's not funny anymore. Would you two kindly have the simple common human decency to close your pie holes and be quiet for a half of a minute? Is that too much to ask? The hell is wrong with you people anyway? The horse is dead. He's starting to smell. Put the bats down.

Yes, I'm talking about the two remaining Democratic candidates, who just participated in their 20th debate but it seems more like their 8,000th. And if you made it through the latest wearisome exercise in drudgery (appropriately held in Cleveland,) you know what I'm talking about; but if you didn't, you should immediately fall to your knees and thank your lucky stars along with every big rig accident or burnt pot roast or sorting of your sock drawer that kept you from sinking into a hole of depression deeper than a vertical zinc mine once you came to the realization that you will never ever ever have that 90 minutes of your life back.

90 minutes. 5400 seconds. 3/ 48ths of a day. Time enough to cook a four pound chicken and eat it. To listen to Green Day's American Idiot twice. Read an entire Robert Parker book. Roundtrip from San Francisco to San Jose in the fast lane of I- 280. One and a half episodes of The Wire. Three consecutive pizza deliveries from Dominos. 22 and a half, four- minute miles. 551 hot dogs at the rate that Joey Chestnut set the world record last July 4th on Coney Island.

Oh my living god, it was riveting. Like listening to golf on the radio in Mandarin. Made you pine for one of those mid 50's Soviet television documentaries on hydroponic farming in the Ukraine. You know that feeling you get when you've been driving fourteen hours straight and are starting to nod off because its 4:30 am and you haven't seen a car in three hours and you figure you'll just rest one eye a little bit and then open it again real quick? Well, it was a lot like that only with tedium.

Here's a news flash. We don't care anymore. You've broken us. Spending 18 minutes on two health care plans that don't have a gnat's pubic hair's worth of difference between them. Not just a discussion, but an actual altercation over the distinction between the words "reject" and "denounce"? You got to be kidding me. The two of you share similar opinions on every single policy issue of import and spend each of these interminable evenings sucking up to the same special interest groups agreeing with one another. That is not a debate. That's a swimsuit competition with pants.

Somebody, anybody, put an end to this misery. I'm begging you. Before one of us snaps and rushes the stage brandishing a turkey baster full of muscle relaxers. Save us. Please. Texas. Pennsylvania. If you have the tiniest scintilla of humanity hidden in the marrow of your bones you will stop this now. No. More. Debates. Until after Labor Day. And then, I'll personally furnish the bats. And the horse.

Political comic, Will Durst, thinks celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Lincoln-Douglas debates with these things is an apt analogy of something.
Lumpy & Hucky

Just when you thought the Republican primary was all over but the shouting, along comes The New York Times with a potential bombshell about possible indiscretions that may or may not have involved John McCain and a woman who does not necessarily look unlike his wife. But don't let that fool you, the charges aren't that solid. Murkier than 8 mm footage of Sasquatch grilling on a Cayman Islands condo balcony filmed from a boat across the harbor on a foggy night. The only certainty is the Gray Lady managed to unite the Conservative Right to fight the reviled shared enemy they represent. Isn't that just like the liberal media elite? Throwing synthetic dirt on the hill to make Obama's comeback climb even more impressive.

McCain's response to the suppositious expose about ostensible malfeasance did provide his wife, Cindy, with serious face time to demonstrate that she was more than just the blonde lady who looks like the head stewardess for Republican Air. And the fact that the lobbyist in question, Vicki Iseman, is her doppelganger, simply means John has really good taste in Stepford Wives.

Over at the Mike Huckabee camp, the shouting is tinged in desperation. But still this Energizer Razorback Bunny refuses to give up. As the former portly former governor from Arkansas says, we've entered the "survival of the fittest" phase of the election. Strange talk from a man who doesn't believe in evolution. From my perspective it seems more like a "gnawing off one of your legs to escape from the coyote trap" phase of the election.

The GOP is down to a man who believes humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together and another who can refute that since he was there. Huckabee explains away his Sisyphean perseverance by saying he doesn't believe in numbers, he believes in miracles. The hell does that mean? He's waiting for God to smite John McCain dead? Don't laugh. It could be working. I got to tell you, I'm worried about the good Senator from Arizona. He don't look so good.

Not just the deer in the headlights grimace at his recent entanglement- denial press conference. I don't know if you noticed but the lump in his face that he had surgically removed a couple years ago is back, and it brought its big brother with it. Looks like he's hoarding nuts for the winter. That can't be good. Generally, I find people are rather disinclined to vote for a president who resembles a marsupial.

This is particularly distressing because, let's face it, Lumpy is not a young man. At 72, he'd be the oldest white man to ascend to the Presidency. What does it say about a country when the president's motorcade continually holds up traffic doing 30 in the fast lane with their left blinkers on? State Dinners held at Denny's on Wednesdays to take advantage of the senior discount? His campaign slogan: "Hey, you punks, get off my lawn."

The allegation by the Times could be a speed bump or a spike strip to the front wheels of the Straight Talk Express. After all, McCain's major attraction to independents is his credibility. And his steadfastness, best exemplified by his early support of the Iraqi surge and his expectation for us to be there for 100 years. No big surprise. We still have a base in Cuba: a residue from the Spanish American War, which ended in 1898. Ask John McCain. He was there too.

Bill Clinton: Threat Or Menace?

It's desperation time in Hillaryville. They're putting out fires faster than a Rocky Mountain ranger station during a lightning storm in the middle of an August drought. Due to the fact that a certain inevitability has proven to be highly evitable. And watching the nomination slip through their fingers has to be going down as easy as a deep fried fork. Causing several revisions to what was previously a dead solid game plan. Corrections that include, but are not limited to- banishment of key staffers to "integral" precincts on the outskirts of West Texas. Further attempts to wring blood out of contributors who insist on impersonating dried turnips. And the most difficult fix: figuring out how to get the candidate's husband to shut the hell up.

Yeah. Right. Good luck. You'd have a better shot at using a plastic butter knife to spay a pit pull on meth than try to muzzle this old dog. I suggest a wolf snare or tranquilizer gun as the best means to render the 42nd President of the United States docile enough to throw a choke chain around his neck. Interesting how quickly the game changes. It wasn't that long ago, rival campaigns were complaining Hillary had an unfair advantage being married to a former President. "But he gets so much press." And now it's Hillary's staff doing the complaining. "But he gets so much press."

What was once a secret weapon is now an albatross tied by a frayed rope swinging wildly from the neck of the former 1st Lady. And because of his unique stature as biggest hound in the pound, Bubba isn't just a loose cannon, he's a loose aircraft carrier in high seas. Rampaging down the campaign trail in the manner of a Japanese movie monster stomping through downtown Tokyo, using his heat vision to blast opponents and batting around members of the media like pastel bunnies off an Easter display shelf in a Hallmark Card shop. He must see himself as a guard dog protecting the hen house, no pun intended. Barack's camp accuses him of being the junkyard dog.

And we can't have that. Because everybody knows that if Mr. Obama gets the nomination, the Republicans won't be mean. They'll roll over on their backs, begging to have their bellies scratched. Worst cast scenario, they try to bruise him by throwing rubber bones at his head. Hah. I laugh. Hah. I laugh again. You want to see negative campaigning? You wait until the junior Senator from Illinois gets the nomination, because you're going to see negative campaigning that will make what they did to Michael Dukakis look like pranks played during recess at a Catholic girl's school.

Bill Clinton nuzzles and he growls. He's a boon and a bane. A southern fried Jekyll and Hyde. Smoother than a puppy's fur, and more divisive than a flea ridden German Shepherd at a Bat Mitzvah. One problem is everybody continues to introduce him as "Mr. President," like he's still in charge. That kind of thing can have an effect on a guy. If Hillary were smart, she'd sponsor a bill in Congress that would mandate all former Chief Executives be referred to as "Mr. Ex President." Kill two dogs with one stone. One dog being a certain George W Bush, whom a lot of us can't wait to call… Mr. Ex- President.

Political comic, Will Durst, is convinced that Mr. C has a slight case of rabies. Look for "The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing" coming from Ulysses Press this April.
Clear. Unclear. Lead Apron.

Disappointment, thy name is Super Tuesday. Maybe the celebrated Day was intimidated trying to live up to its own hype, like the New England Patriots who were perfect for an entire season minus the last 35 seconds. What I'm saying is, not very superlative for either of them. Like opening a bottle of 30 year old Beaujolais and finding it more appropriate for use on your salad. Or discovering on your honeymoon your new spouse suffers from narcolepsy. Waking up on Christmas morning and being told Santa called in sick.

Oh sure, the Republicans winnowed themselves down to John McCain, the Last Rich Old White Guy Standing, due to their jerry rigged winner- take- all primary rules. Which could come back to bite them on the ass, as they managed to pick the one guy that REAL & TRUE conservatives detest, but that was always in the cards considering former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is only reviled 3% less by those REAL & TRUE conservatives and a lot more by… oh, what shall we call them: that wacky evolution- believing cabal.

Super Fat Tuesday did provoke the candidate REAL & TRUE conservatives do pantingly long for, former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, to up and quit. Mostly because, even though he was running 2nd, he had royally pissed off everyone. Did I say everyone? Because I meant EVERYONE. Including his 5 Stepford Sons for squandering their inheritance; blowing 40 million dollars of his own money for the right to wear the conditional crown of Mr. Inevitable for 2012, should the Last Rich Old White Guy Standing falter this November.

Super Tuesday's most spectacular failure was on the other side of the aisle. Instead of putting some separation between Barack and Hillary, the voting in 24 states ended up intertwining the two, creating a kind of a candidate bouillabaisse. The perfect Mardi Gras concoction: a gumbo of equal portions of the Black Guy and the Woman.

What was supposed to be crystal clear- not very clear at all. To be perfectly honest, the only thing that is clear is that this fight to the finish is not over. The fat lady has not sung. Oh I'm sorry, we're talking liberals. What I meant to say is that the gravity- enhanced Diva has yet to warble. As a matter of fact, I don't even think she's waiting in the wings yet. Probably still hanging out in the dressing room smoking a cigarette, talking to her agent on a cell phone with her legs stretched out on the make- up table stuffing her mouth full of bon- bons whilst one of the assistant costumers takes out her dress. Again.

I mean, after an election of this magnitude, the outcome traditionally provides you with either your clear, your near clear, your unclear, your blurry, your muddled, your opaque or your lead apron at the dentist's office with the hygienist safely ensconced in a room 2 counties away from the chair you're laying in with a 3 ton X- Ray gun pointed at your jaw. And this… is definitely one of the latter. But relief is in sight. Because guess what? More primaries coming up. Yee hah. Which means more fund raising, more ads and more pundits pompously pontificating. And translucent and transparent are just around the corner. One can only hope. But then, one has been wrong before, hasn't one?

Comic, soon- to- be author, former short haul truck driver, Will Durst, is actually quite fond of gumbo.
Super Duper Fat Tuesday

Chin up me buckos. Be brave. Don't go all El Foldo on us here. This is no time to pull a John Edwards. Oh I understand the temptation to succumb to the numbing forecast of further interminable debates, but we've come much too far to break down into deep racking sobs just yet. The good news is, (yes, there is good news,) it's almost over. The primary process that is. And the voters of the 24 states venturing into the swirling eddies of Super Tuesday next week should end it, and if they don't, then it ain't going to end for quite a while and there will be time o'plenty to cry and weep and keen over the grisly fate that awaits us.

There is a consolation; if the unthinkable event does go down- no winner emerging, we have six long months to arrange to have the dosage on our medication stepped up in preparation for the conventions this summer when the TV show, "American Gladiators" will be restaged in pinstripes. Oh yes. There will be blood. But Tuesday should clinch it. They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing you know. Actually, they call it Super Tuesday more for the quantity of states voting and not for the quality of the participants involved. And through an odd quirk of fate, its not just Super Tuesday where 52% of the Democratic and 41% of the Republican delegates will be chosen: it is also, more importantly, Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday.

So called because that's the last day Roman Catholics allow themselves to gorge on all the things they plan to give up for Lent. Like what we hope and pray occurs with us and the candidates. Please shut up. Cleverly, the state of Louisiana chose the following Saturday for their primary, four days after Super Fat Tuesday. Proving their bacchanalian propensities are not so debilitating as to prevent them from scheduling a brief recovery period before flexing their electoral muscles. As opposed to the rest of us who do the exact opposite. We vote, then we drink.

This Super Tuesday also holds the distinction of being the most Super of any Tuesday we've ever known. You could say it's the Superest Tuesday, because of everybody vying to be relevant in the partisan picking processes. "But what about me?" Leading pundits have taken to calling it Super Duper Tuesday, or Tsunami Tuesday or Giga Tuesday or The Tuesday of Destiny or Le Ultra Tuesday That Will Make Your Head Snap Back Like Someone Dropped a Load of Ammonia Laced Concrete in Your Lap, and believe it or not, the only one I made up was the last one.

The bad news is, (yes, there is bad news,) this is merely round one. And once the parties have chosen their standard bearers, this procedure will repeat itself all over again. Oh yes. There will be mud. The scariest part is realizing one of these gas bags is going to win. That's right. Our choice for the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has pretty much boiled down to the Woman, the Black Guy, the Mormon and the Prisoner of War. A prospect that should make all of us shiver like stowaways in the baggage hold of a 747 on a Seattle to Shanghai run. Oh yes. There will be hypothermia.

Comic, author, actor, commentator, dishwasher, Will Durst, is shaking just thinking about it.
Democratic Slap Fight

It's like seeing an old friend. More exciting than skydiving strippers with dissolving chutes. Having the Democrats revert to the famous fractious form they sported in the bad old days of the loonie left, I mean. Scratching at each other's eyes like drowning meth addicts scrabbling for the last piece of driftwood visible on a heaving horizon. Kind of comforting to see them finally back to eating their young. A 60s dream. All the joys of an acid flashback with none of the messy chromosome damage.

For a while, they managed to throttle their self- destructive tendencies and maintain the flimsy facade of semi- civilization, what with the whole winning of Congress dealie thing a couple years ago. But right when you thought they might permanently shed their propensity to commit ritual seppuku in public, their two top Presidential Candidates dug deep into the communal Party storage shed, pulled the Circular Firing Squad Machine out from under the purple paisley poncho and began shooting each other's knees off at the very first sight of a blinking red camera light.

And yes, I'm talking about the most recent televised debate, or more accurately, candidate slap fight, that preceded this weekend's South Carolina Primary. What some are calling "the Gurgle in Myrtle." Admittedly, that "some" consists mostly of me. But everyone does heartily agree it was a slam- bang Smack Down with gloves removed and swinging roundhouses weighted with brass knuckles and clenched rolls of Sacagawea dollars.

First Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of saying nice things about Ronald Reagan, which is the most heinous sin a Democrat could commit outside of peeing on George Bush if he were on fire. Uncle Ron will neither be forgotten, nor forgiven for busting a cap into the electoral backside of Saint Jimmy thereby plunging the Democratic Party into 12 years of wandering in the wilderness of irrelevance. Flashing an unknown mettle by responding in kind, the Junior Senator from Illinois indicted Her Hillaryness for serving on the corporate board of Wal- Mart, which for any liberal worth their ACLU card, is like getting sprayed with a fine patina of evil anti- union juice.

The two studiously ignored John Edwards like he was a chip in the paint on the side of the limo that drove them from the airport where their private jets idled ready to take them to another city in a more important state as soon as their face time was through here. But the Not- So- Bashful- Breck- Boy shouldered his way into the prime time act by kicking whichever of the two front- runners he deemed to be down at the time. This guy is such an opportunist, I wouldn't be surprised to find he has finagled the rights to a series of snowball kiosks in hell. It's on thing to be a lawyer. It's another thing to always act like one.

All this went down on the same day our country celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. You know, the guy known for his big non- violence agenda? This is how we honor the man who sacrificed his life to preach peace and civility? Thank god there's no holiday to celebrate the birth of Gandhi, or they might go on national television and beat each other into submission with baseball bats fashioned out of raw beef. Stay tuned, because it's only a matter of time before something just as wacky goes down.

Comic, actor, writer, Will Durst, blames the writer's strike for all of this.
Balkanizing Reagan

Thinning the Republican herd in this year's Presidential Sweepstakes is proving to be harder than 3-D chess with transparent pieces. In their first three primaries, the GOP has mounted three different heads on their electoral wall. And yeah, that means I'm disregarding the great state of Wyoming, for the simple reason they're responsible for Dick Cheney, and deserve to be ignored, if not flogged en masse and shipped to China to be coated in a lead based paint then towed to sea by the FDA. But the exciting part is if Fred Thompson breaks out of his somnambulant trance and wins South Carolina and Rudy Giuliani reminds enough withered transplanted Floridians of the post- squeegee wonder years up north, the GOP could roll into Minneapolis for their National Convention this September with an entire starting basketball team of prospective candidates posing as Ronald Reagan.

Because that, apparently, is the current fashion. Parading around as spitting images of the 40th President, with an emphasis on the saliva. The problem is they can't find the whole package in one guy. They've Balkanized the Gipper. The Christian Right is genuflecting towards Mike Huckabee. The charm contingent is sidling up to his Rudyness, while the Screen Actors Guild wing is Clapping For Fred, Mr. Law & Order himself. Reagan Democrats are big fans of John McCain, and the conservative money boys from Wall Street love that Mitt Romney character. Romney went so far as to appropriate Reagan's bulletproof hair, undoubtedly garnering the Secret Service's endorsement due to the added protection his hard candy shell would provide in the unlikely event he adopts a single position long enough to get a bead on. One has to consider Ronald Reagan lucky he's in the ground and doesn't have to watch these poseurs go through their paces or he'd be spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken during a power surge. Not to mention being royally pissed off about being buried alive and all.

Curiously, two names you never hear mentioned in these celebrity look- a- like pageants are "George" and "Bush." The President is studiously being avoided like a broken pallet of eight penny nails in the center lane of the Beltway. It's a vacuum almost big enough to suck an elephant through. They hope. Among the names that do crop up on the campaign trail more often than that of Herbert Walker's son, are Barry Goldwater, John Wayne Gacy and Bjork. And the Prez is returning the favor by ducking out of town whenever possible, leaving the field wide open for whichever of the Dutch wannabees can best assume the mantle of looking Presidential. Of course, the impact of that little trick has diminished somewhat due to seven years of exposure to it.

Playing the "Reagan- Good, Bush- Bad" game has become so popular, candidates are clambering over each other like blind lemmings outrunning a dam burst, with their claims to be the ONLY one TRULY capable of bringing CHANGE to Washington. Living in the shadow of the last year of consecutive Republican Presidential terms (5 out of the last 7: 7 out of the last 10) and all the Republicans can talk about is… change. You know what, that can't be good. Must be considered a back handed slap at Dubyah. Unfortunately, it's just a figurative slap and not a real one upside the head. With a chain mail glove. Which might be more cathartic of an experience for the nation. And more deserved too.

If comic, actor, writer, Will Durst, had one shot at George Bush, the only thing he'd ask is: "head or gut?"
Shadows Trump Hope

Listen my friends and you will hear a tale of a fateful night. It's a tale no other dare speak of. Not a matter of political correctness. It is shame. Of which I have little. If any. Okay. None. So here goes. What follows is the real and true story of how Hillary Clinton overcame a double digit same day deficit and won the New Hampshire Primary. A tale of a race and of race.

We all know what happened, but like the knickers of a Guatemalan nanny bent over a laundry basket in the room just off the kitchen, we pretend not to notice. Tom Brokaw knows. John King knows. Okay, maybe Laura Ingraham doesn't know, but how is that different? Hillary knows. Barack not only knows, he feels it in his bones like a creeping worm of osteoporosis every day of his life but he'll never say a word.

It was not a polling glitch. It was not co- opting the mantra of "change." It was not Hillary's vulnerability in Saturday's debate or her moist eyes in that Portsmouth coffee shop. It was not Bill turning into a 60 foot George Bailey Transformer rampaging through Bedford Falls. It was a little bit of the teeniest kind of invisible fear. A form of prejudice detritus known as "the Bradley Effect."

In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African- American, was 10 points ahead in the polls the day before his California Gubernatorial election against George Deukmejian. 10 points ahead. Day before the election. He lost. Sound familiar? Ding. Ding. Ding. Give that man a kewpie doll.

To add insult to injury, Bradley led in the EXIT polls. Which means people not only lied about how they were going to vote, they lied about how they did vote. Proof positive that something crazy happens inside the heads of white people when they get behind that polling curtain. But after two terms of George Bush, that ain't new news.

Why didn't the "Bradley Effect" rear its ugly head in Iowa? Simple. We're not talking about racism, we're talking about nervousness. A fear that attacks your marrow in the dark. In Iowa, everyone watches you vote. No curtain to hide behind in a caucus. You bunch in a corner in full sight of all your neighbors under a bright fluorescent light. In New Hampshire, it's just you and your demons. Your inner New England demons. And hope tends to dissipate in those lonely enclosures. No matter how warm the January night, it gets dark at five up there. Northwoods dark, where shadows trump hope.

The difference was women over 40. Which, forgive me, but in both New Hampshire and Iowa means white women. In the Hawkeye State, they went with the black guy in the wide open. In the Granite State, behind the curtain, they chose the white woman. I know. I know. I know. Sacrilege! Implying discrimination exists in America today. Blaspheme! Accusing DEMOCRATS of possible prejudice. Heresy! But its not bigotry so much as it is dread. Obloquy! "What?" Never mind. Suffice to say that in the last six years, we've been taught to fear. Bang! Salivate.

One can only hope the Clinton campaign understands this and doesn't convince themselves it was their wacky emotional leakage weekend strategy that turned the tide, because that would mean 10 months of Bill shrieking and Hillary keening, and nobody wants that. The only thing worse would be to go on pretending this Effect does not exist, because future opponents are already drawing up plans to ramp it up.

Comic, actor, writer, Will Durst had to look up "obloquy." It means the same kind of stuff the other words do.
IOWA— It's Winner-Tastic.

The great thing about the Iowa Caucuses is even after its over, nobody knows exactly what happened. It's best described as musical chairs without the music. And no chairs. On the Democratic side, people don't really vote. They attend, then move off into designated candidate corners, but if not enough people hang in your corner, you have to go somewhere else. So the campaign staff that corners the market on breath mints and deodorant could hold a huge advantage. Hey, there's worse ways to choose a candidate than by picking the one with the best smelling followers. People still talk about how great Hubert Humphrey's staffers smelled. Like winners.

That's another great thing about the Iowa Caucuses- everybody is a winner. The whole damn state is littered with the detritus of winners. Iowa is winner- tastic. Obviously, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are winners because… well, they won. And that's what winners do: they win. But you'd also have to say that John Edwards and Mitt Romney are winners too, because even though they came in second, they called themselves winners, and as big time national politicos- you got to assume they know what they're talking about. Hillary Clinton is apparently a winner, because in her speech, after coming in third, she never gave the slightest impression she hadn't won, so maybe she knows something the rest of us don't, which is another characteristic trait of winners.

Fred Thompson won because he came in third after canvassing the state with the energy of a three- legged tortoise on reds. John McCain won because he spent no time in Iowa at all and still came in fourth. Which, in some books, makes him a double winner. Ron Paul is a big winner coming in a strong fifth, if there is such a thing, when most experts didn't even expect him to be able to find Iowa on a map. Rudy Giuliani, the Mayor of 9/11, won, because he spent no money in Iowa, which can now be used to frighten people in states with more foreigners. Bill Richardson wasn't really trying to win anyhow, and he didn't, so he's a winner. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd may be the biggest winners because they don't have to do this anymore. Duncan Hunter is what you call a winner in reverse, since he polled just 500 votes. Which is only 500 votes more than you or I got, and we weren't even running. Which certainly makes us winners.

The pundits win because they got a lot to talk about. And because of the writers' strike, people might actually pay attention. The caucus goers win because their electoral muscles have been exercised. Young people are winners for having participated in unprecedented numbers. Britney Spears wins since people stopped paying attention to her. Hope wins. Change wins. Evangelicals win. Chuck Norris wins. African Americans win. The country wins. Lot of winners here. Not going to be the case in New Hampshire next week. Going to be a lot of losers there. But here in the Hawkeye State, the biggest winners of all may be the residents of the Great State of Iowa themselves, not just because everybody has already left them to themselves, but because as soon as they did, the temperature rose about 30 degrees.

Comic, actor, writer, Will Durst smells funny.

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