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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Just ask anybody. Oh, they’ll tell you. Over and over and over again. On the radio, they’ve been pounding it into our heads ever since November 1st. That’s when a lot of stations went 24/7 Christmas. And every single one of them went 24/7 Christmas ads nauseum. A sixth of a year. Longer than the lifespan of 4 generations of drone ants. More protracted than an entire Minneapolis summer. Double the playoff contention duration of the Detroit Lions.

The problem is, this particular most wonderful time of the year is proving to be a bit less than. More like the most semi- wonderful time of the year or the most not too bad time of the year. Mainly because people like you and me (mostly you) selfishly refuse to stop whining and go out there and do their patriotic duty by sinking deeply into debt to honor the birth of that Jewish hippie kid by buying more stuff than anybody in their right mind really needs. The worst holiday season in recent memory. Except for last year. So, things are looking up. But it’s an odd up.

It is fair to say that a great many of us are not going to find everything we want under the tree. So, making sure that we don’t throw a perfectly good premise out with the financial bath water, let me offer up my annual scathingly incisive yet curiously refreshing, WILL DUR$T’$ 2009 XMA$ GIFT WI$H LI$T. These are the presents that folks may not receive wrapped up with bows this year but certainly deserve.

For Bernie Madoff. A sudden illness that causes him to die peacefully in his sleep.
For Joe Biden. Since his foot spends so much time in his mouth, mint flavored shoelaces.
For Tiger Woods. A marriage mulligan.
For Hall & Oates. Another 500 or so casinos in Las Vegas so Cirque du Soleil finally gets around to doing a show based on them.
For Barack Obama. A reset switch for his Presidency.
For Sarah Palin’s Publisher. More best sellers targeted to people who don’t read. Maybe an “audio book for the deaf” division. Cookbooks for Supermodels.
For the US Economy. A bit more stimulus to goose that whole stimulus thing into action.
For the Mitt Romney and the Rest of the Republican National Committee Looking at 2012. Something else on Sarah. Then again, maybe the Mayans were right.
For Newspaper Headline Writers Everywhere. Something else to write other than “Recession Appears to be Over.”
For Mexican President Calderon. A wall on the border to control our immigration.
For the Imposters Who Crashed the White House. An endorsement deal with Butterfingers.
For the Democrats in Congress. A year’s supply of whole milk to put a little calcium into their spine.
For Medical Science to Study. Dick Cheney’s heart. George Bush’s brain. And Howard Dean's mouth.
For Granny. Someone to ask, if maybe she might not like her plug to be pulled.
For Those 3 Hikers Facing Trial in Iran. Bill Clinton’s attention.
For Glenn Beck. A one way ticket on the clue train.
For South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. See Tiger Woods.
For Joe Lieberman. A diamond studded collar to befit his position as GOP lap dog.
The State of Texas. A time out, so they stop executing people with IQs of 62. And stop electing them governor as well.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic, who writes sometimes; this being a sterling example.
Catch Durst in stand- up mode at the 17th Annual Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show. Dec. 26- 31. 6 cities. 6 days. 7 comics. 2,347 laughs. willdurst.com or 415.820.9628.
The Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2009

Okay. Here’s the deal: the Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2009 are not to be confused with the Top Ten Legitimate News Stories of 2009. They are as different as night and day. Fire and frogs. Popeye’s chicken and ballet fundraisers. High rise condo balconies and balsa wood furniture. Southern Baptist 4th of July church picnics and snow tires. There were all sorts of heavy- duty stories that impacted the country and the planet. Can’t think of any right now, but trust me, there was a bunch. Rather, the Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2009 are the accounts that provoked a slow shake of the head and a soft chuckle without having to bear a moral weight larger than Manitoba owing to the extreme unfunny nature of the death, destruction and gruesomeness inherent in the legitimate news. So here is the flip side, the stories from 09 most filled with mirthing possibilities.

  • 10. Governor Mark Sanford (R- SC) and Senator John Ensign (R- Nev) both found to have a bit of a problem in the monogamy department. The GOP breathes a sigh of relief that at least they were caught with women.

  • 9. Beer Summit. Resolution sounded like the set up for a joke. A professor, a cop and a president walk into a bar. Because as we all know, beer fixes racism.

  • 8. Swine Flu. To keep from defaming our proud American factory pig farms, government attempts to change name to SOIV: Swine Originated Influenza Virus. Fails to catch on.

  • 7. Supreme Court Justice Sonja Sotomayor. For David Souter’s replacement, the President chooses a Catholic diabetic woman from the South Bronx of Puerto Rican descent. Apparently that search for the albino midget lesbian unwed Bangladeshi mother with a bum leg and lycanthropy fell just a bit short.

  • 6. Cash for Clunkers. Upon first hearing about the program, many thought it was about raising the per diem for the Senate. Or a recurring entry on a lobbyist’s expense report.

  • 5. Nobel Peace Prize. The outcry from the right made you think the President had been caught naked under a goat at a Junkie Hookers for Satan Convention. Glenn Beck so outraged, it’s a miracle he didn’t pull a Kanye West, rush the award ceremonies and yell how Dick Cheney deserved it more.

  • 4. Tiger Woods. Fall from Mt. Olympus is steep and loud. Maybe Nike will give Elin an endorsement deal. Who wouldn’t want to buy the clubs that beat Tiger? The two have given a whole new meaning to: “Just do it.”

  • 3. Somali Pirates. Who knew piracy was a 21st century career track? What’s next: scurvy?

  • 2. Sarah Palin. Alaska deserves decisive leadership, which is why she proved she’s not a quitter by resigning. More Sarah Logic we city folk just don’t understand. Then she writes a book that sells almost a million copies to non- readers. Queen of the Illiterati.

  • 1. Teabaggers and Health Care Rioters. Easy to understand why these folks are so leery of public health care when you realize how obviously they’ve been failed by our public education system.
San Francisco based political comic, Will Durst, writes sometimes, this being a sterling example, and expects 2010 to provide him with even richer grist.
The War-ette

The best part of a long- term Afghanistan occupation is there’s no shame in failing, since we’ll be joining so many other proud names on such a very long list. The worst part of a long- term occupation of Afghanistan is the many moons it’s going to take for us to figure that out. And according to the President, we should input that online calendar repeating entry until summer of 2011. Minimum.

It took the President 33 minutes in front of a crowd of acutely attentive West Point Cadets to explain the ins and outs of our upcoming Afghan escalation. The Second Surge. He painstakingly detailed how absolutely necessary it is that we go in and support these fine tribal folk who wouldn’t know democracy if it climbed up their pants on a three legged camel and peed down their leg.

He went on to stress that while understanding about the whole getting in is important, it is even more imperative that we are cognizant of how vital it is that we also get out. And fast. Not as fast as we’re going in, mind you, but we got to get out quicker than you can say “hey, everybody, its opium poppy harvest time again.” A bit of the old in- out, in- out. You could call it the Clockwork Orange Speech.

Kudos to the White House for breaking new ground. Never has an administration set this country on course to fight a war with an expiration date. Constrained hostilities. A mini serious. Its an innovative strategy. A refrigerated war with a sell- by stamp, like a pint of lox schmear. An evanescent ruckus. Tiny carnage. From now on, let’s just call it The War- ette. A cursory confrontation cramped by a clock. Or in this case, a sundial.

We all know what’s going to happen. Being forewarned, the Taliban will play hide and seek while wearing spelunking gear until our ticket home gets punched in July 2011. Wouldn’t you? “The enemy is coming! The enemy is coming! But their return flights are confirmed 18 months from now.” “Okay, we’ll hunker down till then. We can use my family’s summer cave. Everybody jump into the wagon. No. No. The wagon. With the straw and the rifles and the goats.”

Our good buddy, Afghani President Hamid Karzai, is on board… with reservations. Oh, he has reservations? During the last election, this nefariant handed out ballots with his name pre- selected on them. Apparently, not only is Katherine Harris in the campaign manager business, she’s branching out internationally. He then allowed how the election may have featured a wee bit of a tad of voter fraud, but still deserved praise. Okay, Hamid. Nice voter fraud. Now Karzai is setting up a corruption task force. And you couldn’t find a more qualified guy, considering his lifetime hands- on experience with the subject. I’m just curious as to which side of the corruption task force he’ll be working.

President Obama insists that one of the keys for this all to succeed, is for the Afghan military and police to step up. Oops. Excuse me, sir, I see another small snag here. I don’t mean to sound all chauvinistically modern and all, but mightn’t it help if the people wearing the uniforms over there knew how to READ? Of course education is more collateral damage destined to be abandoned in our wake. Except for the hard and ugly lessons we’ll be taking home. Which, once again, nobody will learn from.

Comic, actor, writer, former radio talk-show host and margarine smuggler, Will Durst, wonders why can’t everyday be like Xmas? <
Catch Durst as an integral part of the 17th Annual Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show. 6 nights. 6 cities. 7 comics. 7 shows. 2347 laughs. See Schedule on willdurst.com for show's informationfor the various venues, or call 415.820.9628.
Turkey Holocaust Day '09

I’m itching like a like a volleyball playing nudist in a field of poison oak to inflate the first 4 story tall balloon and kick start the national parade of giving thanks down Main Street, because Turkey Holocaust Day couldn’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Be honest, doesn’t a little comforting tryptophan poisoning amongst family and friends sound pretty good right about now? Especially what with the fragile state of the economy, and the realization that this particular holiday isn’t about greasing the wheels of capitalism with the fire hose of consumer debt like that other holiday just down the road. This one is about gluttony. Pure and simple. And the only attendant religion involves football and praying that the Cowboys bite big beige banana slugs on national TV. So allow me to express my gratitude for the 4th Thursday of November: it being one of the little things that make life worth living. Right up until midnight when all hell breaks loose. Nevertheless, here’s a few more examples of what causes a middle- aged round- headed political comic to get down on his knees and thank the maker.

  • Sarah Palin. Because to those of us going cold turkey on Bush, she’s like a double dose of Methadone.
  • Barack Obama. Persevering in the face of apoplectic rednecks who can’t get used to the fact that the country is being run by a black guy living in public housing.
  • Dick Cheney. Hurt his back on Inaugural Eve moving boxes. Unh hunh. Apparently even though they were empty, Pandora needed them back.
  • Joe Biden. Shoots himself in the foot so often, his nickname should be “Stumpy.”
    Norm Coleman. Loses Minnesota Senator’s race to Al Franken. Was also felled by Jesse Ventura in Minnesota Governor’s race. Lost to a comic and a wrestler. Probably won’t run ever again for fear of having to debate a rodeo clown.
  • AIG Executives. 4th quarter losses in 2008 were $61.7 billion, but they still used bailout money for executive bonuses. Like giving a dog a treat for peeing on your shoes.
  • Bill Clinton. Flies to North Korea on an empty plane and comes home with two hot Asian journalists chicks. This guy is still good. I hear he’s going back for more.
  • Hamid Karzai. Afghani President admits voter fraud but says election still deserves praise. Okay. “Hey Hamid, nice voter fraud.”
  • Levi Johnston. For just being him.
  • The State of Illinois. If Rod Blagojevich is found guilty in civil court, he will be their second former governor imprisoned at the same time. That means Illinois will have 3 governors working for them: two in Joliet and one in Springfield.
  • Katie Couric. Don’t know why, but every time she says ”stimulus package,” I giggle.
  • The GOP. Waging an internal war for their very soul. GOP soul. As oxymoronic as a Democratic leadership fight. Joaquin Phoenix Talk Show Guest Handbook.
  • Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner. Though now in charge of the IRS, forgot to pay his taxes. Yeah. Me too.
  • Hillary Clinton. Secretary of State responds to Somali pirates by talking tough: “Thems that dies is the lucky ones.”
  • And finally George W Bush. Announced his intention to open a think tank. Let me repeat that. The George W Bush Think Tank. You can't make stuff up like this.

See, life is good.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Kid Activist vs The Beltway Octopus

Get ready fight fans. The Heavyweight match of the decade is fast approaching. And yes, I’m talking about the President of the United States climbing into the ring with the GOP Senate. Kid Activist versus the Beltway Octopus. The result of this upcoming main event showdown over health care reform will determine who wears the DC championship belt and who gets a one- way ticket to Palookaville. Forever scaring children with their freakishly engorged cauliflower ears.

The suspicion in certain circles is that POTUS might have bitten off more opponent than 60 Mike Tysons could chew. Not so much outclassed as mis- trained. After all, he only rose to this lofty perch by vanquishing what can best be described as an entire grocery shelf of tomato cans: Bill Richardson. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton. John McCain. The Glass Jaw Express. Hardly the training regimen necessary to deal with some of the most brutal and barbaric brawlers in history. A point of pride for the most deliberative body in the world.

You see this happen to fighters all the time. They slice through a lower weight class like a serrated knife through foie gras then move up too fast, only to find themselves kissing more canvas than a Spanish busload of Pablo Picasso groupies. If the Peter Principle traipsed around in satin trunks and fat red gloves, it would look a lot like this.

After a brief promotional tour, the People’s Prez is about to engage in a public pugilistic endeavor with the entire battalion of bare- knuckle gladiators that are the GOP’s big boys. In order to survive 12 rounds, his managers better have trained him how to throw the low blow, because he’s going up against the masters of the procedural rules sucker punch. A group to whom the term “below the belt” does not exist. Whose clinches are characterized by roundhouse rabbit punches with something hard, dull and heavy hidden in the gloves. Where the sweet science has a sour aftertaste.

This skirmish is shaping up to be one of Washington’s epic battles. New world taking on the dark ages. First time sparring partner versus the Olympic Gold Medal squad. A fresh young face from flyover country squaring off against the entrenched grizzled veterans who’ve been known to gnaw on each other just to stay in practice. And don’t expect this brush with destiny to be held under Marques of Queensbury Rules. It’s a cage match. No silly mandatory 8 counts here. We’re talking Thunderdome. 2 go in. 1 comes out. With all of America ringside salivating over the promised carnage and Nancy Pelosi as a round card girl.

Obama’s only hope is to go the distance; stick and move, float like a butterfly, sting like an Avenger Surface- to- Air Missile, land some clean shots and not get trapped on the ropes by the bum’s rush of the filibuster. And speaking of bums, his team needs to keep an eye on that cut man, the punch drunk, Joe Lieberman. Sure, he says he’s working a neutral corner, but this potato head has been known to take a dive or two and was always prone to throwing in the towel even when his fighter was leading on the scorecard. Ladies, you might want to avert your eyes, this is going to be ugly. Let’s get ready to bumble.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them<.
Breaking The Pre Nup

For liberals, Election Day 08 was the marriage of hope and opportunity. Election Day 09: not so much. More like a summons from a partner’s divorce lawyer to give a deposition. After regaining statehouses in both Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans are fighting amongst themselves to see who can grab the megaphone and hail it as a sign from heaven above that the honeymoon between the American people and Barack Obama is over. All while mentally dividing up the community property.

Since Democrats typically come standard equipped with a spine so soft and pliable it can be used as a substitute for window grouting, (“Now With Less Calcium”) it comes as no surprise that more than a few members of the wedding party are attempting to weasel out of their spousal responsibilities. Trying to break the pre- nup as it were. Checking for loopholes with a molecular microscope. Thawing the cake chilling in the freezer and chowing down before the hitching juice gets turned off for good.

We have to assume the union was consummated so an annulment is out of the question. Course, with these guys, you never know. And at this point it’s doubtful that even the great mystical entity that tied the holy knot of wedlock in the first place could broker a reconciliation. But let’s leave Teddy Kennedy out of this, shall we?

Whenever connubial bliss is torn asunder and heads south of Tierra Del Fuego, there’s blame o’plenty to go around. Maybe too much anticipation was built up by all the pre- ceremony fooling around to sustain an actual relationship. This type of congenital post- nuptial depression tends to specifically afflict Democrats. Perhaps the yoke of marital responsibilities proved too burdensome for the betrothed. Do the terms health care and mid term elections have any meaning here? And all that talk of the expected alienation of affection due in 2010 could just be acting as a self- fulfilling prophecy.

Mister President doesn’t skate down the culpability aisle either. He needs to understand that in the heartland, there’s not a lot of call for a Metrosexual head of the household. Time to grow a pair. Less photo ops. More power tools. Everyone knows the circumstances that forced the newlyweds into moving into a fixer upper. But now, it would be nice to see some actual fixing.

Both sides are praying a trial separation can be averted. On the same latter election day of which earlier we spoke, New York’s 23rd Congressional seat went non- Republican for the first time since before the Civil War. When it was held by a Whig. Who knows, maybe some couples therapy could help. Double sessions twice a week with an assist from some heavy psychotropics. Independents are notoriously fickle and susceptible to pendulum swings. Besides, the dowry has been blown and there isn’t anything left for alimony.

As always, the worst part of a break up is not the slow suffocation of the sacred bond of matrimony; after all, the majority of better halves in this country don’t get it right until the second or third time around. No, the most distressing part is when children are involved, such as in this case. And yes, sadly, I am talking about Congress. Let the custody battles begin.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch his new one man show “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” coming soon to a performing arts center near you. Such as: Saturday the 14th. Pantages Theater, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402, 253.591.5890
Poking The Cobra

Now is the time for all good men to put their hands together, pull them apart and rapidly put them back together again, and repeat, to give props to the President for not curling up into a fetal position with a “Kick Me” sign taped to his butt. You know. Like a Democrat.

He’s taking it straight to his perceived enemy, calling both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh radical and out of the mainstream, making the two crazier than a preacher at a whorehouse with a parishioner working the door. Because that is exactly what they say about him. Methinks there may be a bad case of “can dish it out but not take it” going around.

Conservative commentators are retaliating by lobbing charges of extreme partisanship at the President. Claiming he totally ignored his campaign promise to be “a uniter, not a divider.” Oh wait, that wasn’t him. That was the other guy. Sorry. You remember the last guy. Now there was someone who reeked of non- partisanship. At least I think that’s what it was.

No idea what the right- wing radio dudes expected Barack to do in response to their incessant taunting and baiting: clap his hands over his ears and make la- la- la noises until the bad people stop talking nasty about him? Lie down on a fire resistant humanely braided Persian rug and whimper himself to sleep? Or pull a John Kerry, who while being swift boated in August 04, spent the entire month on his back waiting for a big old tummy rub. You know. Like a Democrat.

Though he lacks military service, Barack Obama seems to grasp the concept of “target acquired.” Obviously, this sustained adversarial offensive is all part of a choreographed campaign to marginalize critics. An effort to paint the GOP as a wee bit of a sliver of a party, chock full of pro- rape, white, Southern ditto- heads and fringe licking extremists. Following the script perfected by that fabled wartime tactician: Karl Rove. If you’re going to steal, take from the best.

It must be said that refusing to appear on Fox News does seem to fly in the face of the President’s official policy to open a dialogue with all evil- doers. Which normally, he does. Iran. Hamas. North Korea. Syria. Everyone it seems, except Rupert Murdoch. “If we want fair & balanced, we’ll get our fair and balanced from MSNBC thank you very much.” Not very Peace Prize- ish if you ask me.

Its a tricky game this riling the rabble that Obama is playing. You got to be awfully careful when you poke the cobra. Fortunately he’s got the extra long pointy sticks that are David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel to do the dirty work. Another problem is both sides know that as the rhetoric ratchets up, so do the ratings. But studies prove helping Limbaugh hurts Republicans with Independents, so it’s a calculated gamble. On the order of picking the Raiders to cover, on the road.

A final concern is all this fresh flummery could cause Rush to bloat up to dirigible size and then explode, which some experts say may force the evacuation of the entire Eastern Seaboard due to fears of Oxycontin contamination. But most importantly, Obama needs to keep in mind the advice my father regularly spouted after his third six pack: never get in a fight with an ugly person, he’s got nothing to lose. You know. Like a Republican.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch his new one man show “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” appearing at a performing arts center near you.
Oslo’s Calling

Barack Obama was President a mere 12 days before the Nobel Peace Prize nominations closed and he still won. I know, I know. “He showed early promise.” Talk about handing in an A paper at the beginning of the semester. Less than two weeks in office and he earns himself a Peace Prize. This guy is good. Of course, you got to remember, the potential recipient list for a Peace Prize is not what you call your deep field. Never has been. Hence: Kissinger, de Klerk and Arafat.

What worries me is, what kind of message are we sending kids? Bomb the Moon. Win a Peace Prize. You know what’s next. People are going to want to bomb Mars. Just to see what happens. Trigger an announcement from the Vatican? Causing a nuke to be tossed at Uranus. Detonative planetary creep.

You could say, this is a “most likely to succeed” sort of deal. Not so much a pro- Obama message as much as it is “thanks for rescuing the planet by changing administrations” message. An award that could have pretty much gone to any American not named George W. Bush. Then again, the tactical use of beer to arrange a diplomatic summit may have been a crowning achievement in the minds of the five Norwegians.

Or perhaps the intellectual community is so excited to be out of the doghouse and rejoining the conversation that they are banding together to encourage Obama. Expect the MacArthur Genius Grant people to come calling. Then he’ll win a Lefoulon-Delalande Foundation Grand Prize from France for reducing global stress and increasing cardiovascular efficacy. And finally, next spring, Neil Patrick Harris presents him with a Special Tony Award for the sensational fashion in which he tap- danced his way into our hearts.

As expected, the lunatic fringe finds all this further fodder to continue its harangue. Which I don’t understand. How can you criticize a Peace Prize? I don’t care if the Keebler Elves are excreting them like tear shaped lemon bars from a hollowed out tree stump. It’s a Peace Prize. Its not like he’s getting a bronzed bazooka from Warmongers Weekly.

“You know Hitler was nominated.” Yeah, once. By one guy. And Pat Paulsen was almost President. The same crowd who cheered losing in Copenhagen is now grumbling about winning in Oslo. Totally unfamiliar with the grand Scandinavian tradition of make- up calls. The toughest part has to be keeping a straight face when expressing concern over the Nobel Committee’s credibility.

Certain talk show hosts have worked themselves into such a tizzy I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them pull a Kanye West, and crash the stage during the award presentation, yelling Dick Cheney was more deserving. Should the Prez actually attend the ceremonies, that is. On the off chance he doesn’t find himself too busy to personally accept the Peace Prize due to the time consuming nature of commandeering two wars.

Now might be a good time to abandon the high road and shove it in people’s faces by wearing the medal around his neck everywhere he goes. Like Flavor Flav. “What? This old thing?” And when he does donate to charity the 1.4 million dollars that accompanies the prize, I’m thinking ACORN. Stop your belly- aching. So Obama got an award. Bush got a shoe.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch his new one man show “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” appearing at a performing arts center near you.
How Not To Get The Swine Flu

Well, look at the time. Aren’t we expecting the Return of the Bride of the Son of the Swine Flu pretty soon? That’s right. It’s Baaaaack and this time, its personal. Scientists predict the virus will be worse this swing through Northern Hemisphere, but come on, no matter how bad it gets, it’s still not going to be 1919. After all, our public water supply systems have undergone a bit of an upgrade over the last 90 years. “Now, With Less Dysentery!” Of course, with the return of the H1N1 virus, (don’t want to disparage our proud American pork producers) we are mere nanoseconds away from being inundated with literally three tons of articles on how not to contract it. So, let me assist by being the first to throw out a quick purview.

Top Ten Tips On How Not To Get The Swine Flu: A Public Service From Durstco

  • #1. Wash your hands. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based rub. Single Malt Scotch should do the trick. Keep that larynx clean as well.
  • #2. Wear a mask. If you can’t find one of those scrub masks, use a Halloween mask. What’s a pandemic without a little fun? A Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner mask might prove effective enough to frighten the swine flu away.
  • #3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it, or collect them and construct a sort of swine shrine. Or wipe the doorknob and garage door handle of that annoying radical neighbor of yours.
  • #4. Drink plenty of fluids. Preferably domestic beer. Or Single Malt Scotch. Didn’t we just talk about how alcohol inhibits bacteria growth?
  • #5. Throw everything out. No, everything. Clutter causes confusion. And as any medical expert will tell you, confusion leads to the flu.
  • #6. Sleep is good. Try to find a way to sleep at work. A rested employee is not a communicable employee.
  • #7. The CDC recommends a seasonal flu vaccine. As a matter of fact, try to stockpile as many drugs as you can. Flush your body with drugs and environmentally friendly antimicrobials. And Single Malt Scotch. Safe and easy and practical to use.
  • #8. Wear light colors. No, wait, that’s for heat advisories. But still applies to the flu, because that way we can see all the various effluviums accumulating on peoples’ clothing and know whom to avoid.
  • #9. Stay away from sick people. In other words, don’t watch Glen Beck.
  • #10. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. And arms and feet and hair. And shoes and surfaces and fabrics. Get nude. Repeat after me, “Naked is safe. Naked in the bathroom is safer. Naked in the tub curled into a fetal position covered with a hypoallergenic salve is safest.” 
Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch his new one man show The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion, appearing at a performing arts center near you.
Proud To Be Dim

Remember back in grade school, when all learning came to a screeching halt while the teacher stopped to explain what was going on to the slow kids? She’d spend the entire morning trying to simplify the lesson plan so they could get it.. Using small words in her annoying patient voice, which tended to pitch strident the slower she talked. Well, that’s what’s happening here. America is being held hostage by the dim.

People used to be embarrassed to be stupid. Now they’re walking around all proud and stuff wearing their density like a badge of authenticity. Waving misspelled signs and talking such a pack of nonsense you’d think syphilitic monkeys had crawled up their butts and were blowing “Oh Suzanna” on their perforated livers. During the health care riots, people actually waved placards that read; “Stop Socializing USA & Keep Youre Hands Off My Medicare.” Dude. At least use two different signs.

Then the President gave a speech. To kids. You know, a “school is good” kind of pep talk to encourage them to study hard and take responsibility and the importance of getting an education and blah blah blah blah blah, The same load of poo we’ve heard our entire lives. But for some of these young uns, this would be their first load of poo. So what happens? Parents kept students home because they didn’t want their wee precious bairns to be hypnotized by the President’s socialistic indoctrinations.

For crum’s sake, he told them to wash their hands. Didn’t mention fluoridated water once. These boneheads kept their kids out of school to keep them from hearing Obama’s subversive message to… stay in school. It makes a person want to buy a big old pink box of chocolate profiteroles and eat the whole damn thing in one sitting while sitting on the couch in a blue Snuggie™. Screw health care. How bout some legislation making smug truculent ignorance a crime? I know. We’d need prisons the size of Montana.

Speaking of obtuse, Conservatives might want to think twice before anointing Joe Wilson, the “You Lie” guy, as their new alpha immigration dog. Could come back and bite them so bad they’ll be pulling Hispanic teeth out of their keisters for years. Must have been Al Franken’s Capitol presence that prompted the 4- term Congressman to mistake his surroundings for a comedy club, heckling the President while he was speaking to a joint session of children. I mean, Congress.

Wilson is another in a continuing series of short- term, right- wing, sugar- rushes similar to the high wire attained on November 1st after staying up all night finishing a bag of Halloween treats. One of those things that seems like a good idea at the time, but then your teeth rot right out of your face onto the floor. Deep down, the South Carolina Representative has to realize he’s being used by the GOP leadership as one more mad- dog to stampede the lemmings into a mass cliff dive to rain down onto Obamacare’s head.

It’s the unhinged edge to the outrage that caused former President Jimmy Carter to speculate that a large portion of the flock of cascading weasels is due to Obama being black. The problem here is, while stupid people tend to be racists, and all racism is stupid, not all stupidity is racist. A significant portion is just plain dumb. Some people are simply having problems getting used to the fact that this country is being run by a black guy living in public housing. So, pencils down. Let’s take another break. To explain to the dim. There is nothing to worry about.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch Durst at the Comedy Celebration Day in Golden Gate Park, Sharon Meadow, this Sunday afternoon. Noon to five.
Cash For Clunkers: The Sequels

Got to give the President a big bowl of props for interrupting Obama Rama on Martha's Vineyard with his valiant effort to paint a big old smiling happy face on the side of the economy. Although in the future, he might want to come up with something a bit more reassuring than "we're losing jobs at a much slower pace." Hey everybody, did you catch that? The economy is doing less badly. Alright! Its not getting worse as rapidly as it previously was. Woo hoo! The brakes are on the slide. About as encouraging as a squad of septuagenarian cheerleaders waving black pom- poms after a loss in the rain at night.

Typically, economists are unsure whether the parachute has or hasn't opened to slow the free fall of our recession. Or why. That's because they're economists. You know that phrase: "couldn't tell his ass from yellow paint?" Next time you see an economist on one of those cable talk shows, check under his fingernails. You got it. Chips of yellow paint. Look up equivocating in the dictionary, there's a picture of an accountant hiding from an economist.

It could be seasonal. Perhaps summer barbecue grill tongs sales peaked above expectations, or back- to- school notebooks flew off the shelf or there's been an early run on Cool Whip in anticipation of massive pumpkin pie production. Could be just the natural way of things. You know, part of that whole good, bad, boom, bust, excellent, sucky cycle. Then again, it might have been the much- vaunted economic stimulus package kicking in. Hard to tell. Although, a lot of folks still maintain the only thing the stimulus package aroused was their suspicion.

Cash for Clunkers might have had a hand in it. The rebate program ended its run with about 700,000 new cars sold, and initial estimates are that 3 or 4 of them were made in America. I got to be honest, when I first heard the phrase Cash for Clunkers, I thought they were talking about raising the per diem for the Senate. Or it was a recurring entry on a lobbyist's expense report.

It hasn't been all roses and sunshine and bubble baths. Some dealers are still whining about government delays in rebate reimbursement. Yeah. You read that right. Auto dealers are complaining someone is slow holding up their end of a bargain. Should have signed up for the undercoating.

Now the feds are rolling out a sequel to Cash for Clunkers whereby consumers earn rebates by trading in large appliances for energy efficient replacements. The old two- birds- with- one- coin strategy. The problem is there's no cute alliterative name for the program. I'm sorry, Cash for Stackable Washer/ Dryer Combos doesn't quite cut it. Cash for Upright Freezers with Manual Defrost lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

What we need is a series of programs to recapture the public's fancy and open wide their wallets. People eat, don't they? Why not seduce them into consuming domestic donuts? Cash for Dunkers. Or how about our brave American rotisserie chicken establishments? Cash for Cluckers. Maybe a stimulus program for disaffected banjo players… Cash for Pluckers. Oyster restaurants could use assistance: Cash for Shuckers. Let's throw a bone to our indigenous cave explorers. Cash for Spelunkers. And finally, I'm personally hoping to hook into a research grant for exposing fake psychics: You know, Cash for Debunkers.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them. Please catch his new one man show "The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion," when it appears near you.
Pulling Granny’s Plug

What is it with the crazies with the guns at the town halls complaining about the health care reform death panels? There are no health care reform death panels. Is this what constitutes legitimate dissent now? Just making stuff up? Okay. Fine. I want to protest the black capsules the government plans to shove down our throats at age 30 to tamp Social Security costs down and honor Michael York in Logan’s Run. Come on everybody: “Black Capsules Bad.” 

The high decibel human wailing walls call themselves grass roots activists while opponents dispute their provenance as being more from the Astoturf side of the nursery. Interestingly, before any of this started, late in the spring, the GOP circulated internal memos determined to “go for the kill,” on health care. But as they say on “Law & Order,” “any resemblance to actual persons or events is strictly co- incidental.” KON- KONK.

The pissed off masses seem to be an amalgam. Skinheads and Obama is Hitler proponents. The distilled residue dried at the bottom of the Teabagger saucer. Some are free radical LaRouchies who don’t want the government involved in anything including roads and policing. But it is easy to understand why all of them are so leery of public health care. It’s painfully obvious they’re intimate with the failures of public education.

The programs that are the focus of everyone’s tizzyment, are end of life consultations. Known variously as palliative care, and: “They’re pulling the plug on granny.” No. They’re just talking about pulling the plug on granny. Besides, if the participants at these protests are any sampling of what home life is like, maybe granny isn’t that anxious to extend her existence ad infinitum. Maybe granny wants her plug pulled. Ever think of that? Anybody bother asking granny?

Well, that’s what these consultations are about. Maybe granny doesn’t relish the prospect of spending a couple of decades impersonating a large fleshy bedsore bedeviled antiseptic log with a feeding tube up her butt. Maybe granny would like to harvest her epidermis. (Stretchy skin has to come in handy for something.) This is an opportunity to inform her of choices. The choice of leaving her body to science. Or her teeth to Art History. Or her cherry 76 Ford Pinto to PETA. This is where you can get stuff like that out in the open. Living will time.

People die. That’s what they do. All of them. You. Me. Uncle Fred. Aunt Hoogolah. Walter Cronkite. Granny and Gramps. And no offense, but granny is probably going to beat most of us to the finish line. And it doesn’t freak her out as much as it does you just thinking about her thinking about it. Hell, I bet she’s already gone down the rabbit hole with her own granny. And she don’t look too worse for wear (except for the stretchy skin part.)

Unfortunately, in our culture, death is a lot like sex. Books are written about it and movies revel in it, but in the real world, you will please have the common human decency to refrain from speaking about it. Or looking at it. And if someone talks about it, don’t listen. Quick, stick your head in the sand. And hands over both ears. Now repeat after me: La. La. La. La. La. La. La.

Note: No Ostriches were hurt during the writing of this column. KON-KONK.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them. Please catch his new one man show “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” when it appears near you.
Hot Loud August

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit Washington DC in August, you understand the custom of the federal government releasing all its high profile delinquents back into their home communities and calling it recess. DC was built on a swamp and walking around our Capital right now is like slogging through a sauna while wearing a lard- lined jogging suit made out of yak hair. But politicians seeking to escape the searing Beltway heat for some relative cool back home, found themselves entering a bipartisan blast furnace of half truths and misguided indignation. It’s not only going to be a long hot August, it’s going to be a loud one.

The scorching cacophony coming from town halls all over this great land of ours is getting hotter and shriller. Because as TV has taught us, louder is righter and Righter is Louder. And LOUDEST is RIGHTEST. They say that youth is wasted on the young, and after watching cable coverage of these staged outrages, you got to wonder if democracy might not be wasted on the dim. While the Democrats dismiss the protesters as angry out of control mobs, the GOP maintains they’re just panicky citizens seeking honest discourse. So, as a compromise, we’ll call them panicky mobs.

One problem is, a goodly portion of these panicky mobs is made up of conspiracy theorists convinced this is just another phase in our Kenyan born President’s insidious plot to destroy the United States of America. Something liberals never accused Bush of. Even when he was trying to. As every anti war protest was distracted by gratingly sincere flippo- units dressed as giant sea turtles, legitimate concerns about health care are being hijacked by the black helicopter crowd. Those post libertarian types obsessed with getting big government not just out of their lives but out of everyone else’s lives. And rain. That’s no good either. Get rid of that too.

On the other hand, even stoned crazed long necked loons have genuine concerns about their physical well being. Most of us are afraid of our own doctors for crum’s sake. Add in some stainless steel prods and procedures and providers and premiums and it can easily lead to combustive fasciculation. Which means blistered twitching. And now the plan is to throw a thousand plus pages of bureaucratic fixes into the mix? And our leaders still don’t know why the populace is quivering like beads of water dancing across a pancake grill? Go fish. 

The question is why now? Obama must have known the struggle to get a reform bill passed would make the Mideast peace talks seem as straightforward as sixth grade intramural basketball possession calls. Wasn’t anybody paying attention when the Clintons tried this 16 years ago? I don’t care what Teddy Kennedy was promised. Besides, he’ll never know. So far, all you’ve managed to do is prompt the Republicans to salivate like winos at a distillery spill.

Sarah Palin warned that the developmentally disabled would be forced to appear at one of Obama’s “death panels.” That flies so far past dissent, it borders on terrorism. Methinks Ms. Palin’s political career might have lost a death panel appeal. Virginia Foxx, (R- NC) accused the bill (that hasn’t been written or committeed or voted on yet) of including provisions to kill the elderly, and come on, when you say stuff like that, you’re going to freak people out. Especially the elderly. Let’s not forget, the number one pre- existing condition in this country is the fear of getting old. Not to mention, the even less attractive… alternative.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
While You Were Out

Besides needing a vacation from your vacation, the worst part of returning to work after a traditional summer holiday, is the realization that you’re going to need a minimum of two days for every day gone just to get back into the swim of things. And the mound of memos piled on your desk is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Monday. 8:00 am. The custodian came by and changed the locks on all the employee rest rooms and left everyone a key except you. Sorry. Martha.
  • Monday. 10:30 ish. Thought you should know some guy from accounting pawed through your trash. He took some. Not much. Bobby.
  • Monday. 1:07 pm. The new management consultant wants everyone to start wearing red suspenders as a morale building exercise. Don’t blame me, I just work here. For now. Mrs. Scott.
  • Monday. 3 pm. I have been informed that the layoff wheel has been set up in the lunch room. All employees will spin it once a week. Mitchell in NY.
  • Monday? I.O.U. one middle desk drawer. Thanks dude. Ali.  
  • Tuesday. 8:00 am. We’ve saved all our safety updates and will start printing memos on the reverse side. Like this one. Ignore swine flu warning on back. Or don’t. Thank you. Martha.
  • Tuesday. Some ridiculous single digit hour in the am. Your suggestion about cutting executive bonuses was forwarded to New York. Smoooth move. Ali.
  • Tuesday. 8:47 am. The new seniority system is now in place. Pick up your information packet in the lunch room at your convenience. Between 1 and 2. Mrs. Scott.
  • Tuesday. 3pm. I have been informed that the new janitorial crew will service each floor one day a week. Your floor is scheduled for Monday. Mitchell in NY.
  • Tuesday. 4:14 pm. The new management consultant forgot at which Hyatt he is staying. Anybody who knows, please visit the East conference room. Do not call. The phones are broken. Mrs. Scott.
  • Wednesday. 8:00 am. Tonight’s transitioning workshop has been relocated to the Denny’s off exit 7. Martha.
  • Wednesday. Noonish. That guy from accounting brought back your trash. And somebody else’s trash too. It’s all on your desk. Should I call Bailbonds Without Borders? Bobby.
  • Wednesday. 3pm. I have been informed Mitchell in NY has been laid off. He had a bad spin on the layoff wheel. Ali.
  • I hate these pink memos.. Why dont we use email? Cant you talk to Martha? Anyhow, Ticketmaster called. They misteakenly listed your number to call for Springsteen tickets and want you to forward people to the new number. I wrote it down on your fileing cabinet in lipstick. Bridget. In reception. PS. I like Springsteen. 
  • Thursday. 8:00 am. Save your old staples. Gwen has volunteered to twist them into paper clips. Martha.
  • Thursday. 11:14 am. New York has determined that every other Casual Friday is now a Furlough Friday. Typical. Mrs. Scott.
  • Thursday morning. Some idiot visited an Albanian porn site and now there’s a virus eating all the hard drives. You might want to reboot your computers. Now. Mister Roberson, VP of HR. By the way, whoever is shredding the layoff wheel every night, cut it out. It won’t help.
  • Thursday. 4:17 pm. The health care co- pay is now 100%. Not sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good. Mrs. Scott.
  • Some guy from the IRS wants to see your trash. Your sposed to call him when you get in, but I lost the number. Sorry. Bridget. In reception. Any news on Springsteen?
  • Friday. 8:00 am. Personnel called. They want to know your job description. Martha.
  • Friday. 9:14 am. The guys in Creative want to know if Mt. Rushmore is a natural formation. No, I’m not kidding. Oh sure, they have jobs. Mrs. Scott.
  • Friday afternoon. I have been informed that on Monday, we will be measuring inseams for the smaller cubicles. Mr. Roberson. VP of HR.
  • Friday. Don’t know time. Oprah’s on. The custodian removed the rollers from your chair to make skates for the dolly. Bobby.
  • Monday? Again? How can that be? Dude, why is your car parked in the “Employees Only” lot? Kidding. I think. Welcome back. Just in time to spin the wheel. Ali.
Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch Durst every weekend during the month of August at the DC Improv premiering his new one- man show: The Lieutenant Governor From the State of Confusion. 1140 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington DC, 20036
Grading Democracy On a Curve

Want to take this time to congratulate the Iranian people for upgrading to a participatory government where they feel empowered enough to take to the streets to complain. For those of you who have been too busy digging under bushes for returnable bottle deposits, there is major rioting going on in the country formerly known as Persia, due to their sneaking suspicion of rampant voter fraud. Hundreds of thousands are risking arrest, death and worse demonstrating their shock at the corruption of their leaders. Of course, here in the US, we’ve learned to take that sort of thing in stride and grade on a curve.

The election results in dispute find Members Only aficionado Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning the Presidency with 63% of the vote. Well, there’s your problem right there. Mahmoud, Baby. You want to rig an election, you don’t claim 63%. You squeak by with 51%. Didn’t you guys learn anything from Karl Rove? At least let the other guy appear to win his home district. After all, he’s not Al Gore.

In that knee jerk manner as peculiar to totalitarian regimes as bikini waxing is to cast members of “Gossip Girl,” Iranian authorities blamed America for the unrest. That’s right. We’re responsible for their amateurish rigging of a phony election. They may have a point. In a way, it IS our fault. Re-repressing a populace after they’ve Twittered and Facebooked and Tranny Shacked is like trying to stuff the subjugation toothpaste back into the tube. Best way is to razor the nozzle off, cram the domination back in with a rubber spatula then staple the nozzle back onto to the tube. Which is a bit unwieldy. But much easier when not exposed to the sun guns of the Western media.

Of course, our excitement over this burgeoning democracy may be a bit premature. It’s not like the dissident challenger, former prime minister, Mir Hossein Moussavi, is a raging capitalist. We keep referring to him as a moderate, but in Iran, a moderate is any Shi’ite who’s run out of bullets. Another inconvenient truth.

Even if the election is overturned, (about as likely as the eventual victory celebration being held at an Irish pub,) you might want to hold off on sending that Constitutional Starter Kit. Don’t think they’re quite ready for a string of NRA chapters is all I’m saying. Just to get on the ballot over there you need the okay of the Supreme Leader. And there’s another problem. How free and open is your election really when you have to clear your candidacy with somebody called Supreme Leader? Sounds like the eternal adversary of Moose and Squirrel.

The Supreme Leader in question is Ayatollah Khamenei, a totally different despot than the Ayatollah Khomeini but they do share the same barber. In response to the massive officially banned protests, Khamenei recanted his initial rubber stamp of the election and called upon the 12 member Council of Guardians to investigate the vote. Unh-hunh. Oh yeah. That’s going to help. Kind of like putting the 2000 Florida election into the impartial hands of one of the candidate’s brothers.

Of course, one big difference is, in Iran, when they talk about hanging chads, they’re not referring to cardboard punchouts, but foreign journalists named Chad. Pretty sure they have hanging Jeremys and hanging Rogers as well. Not to mention a soon to be veritable rash of hanging Mir Hosseins.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Catch him at the Mason City Limits Comedy Club in Mason City, Illinois on Friday and Saturday June 26th & 27th. Go to mclimits.com or call 217.482.5233 for more details.
Just a heads up. Taking the month of July off to write my little one- man show, “The Lieutenant Governor From the State of Confusion,” so you’ll get nothing till August. Have a great summer. Stay cool and dry and vertical. Or hot and wet and horizontal. Whichever works.
DC Pious Minvan

One of the biggest joys of the open road is its pure democracy... Bentleys and Pintos idling side by side at the same red light. Limos, BMWs, Fords and those little enh cars that look like they’ve been squashed between two big rigs, all subject to the same speed traps, congestion and potholes big enough to swallow locomotive engines. Valet attendants who can be reliably counted on to scrounge around gloveboxes for loose change while burning an eighth of an inch of rubber off of high end Pirellis and cheap Chinese retreads with total egalitarianism.

That is not to say that all cars are created equal. With the license comes the knowledge of which ones to avoid getting stuck behind driving uphill cross town in traffic. Elderly drivers wearing hats rank high on the list. Tinted glass is right up there, as well as any ride sporting bass vibrations rippling the back windows. Hummers most especially, but any gas guzzling SUV with their thick headed tank-like attitude clogging our paved arterials like permanent transfusions of liquid pork fat on wheels.

Conversely, there’s the Toyota Prius. It’s not the automobile that rankles. A sensible car. The car of tomorrow. Today! No, not the vehicle, rather the people in the drivers’ seats that make you want to drag a body out from behind the wheel and knock it in the head with giant plastic inflatable cartoon hammers and make “thunk, thunk, thunk” noises till the tolls come down. Political correctness and piloting a one and a half ton piece of sculpted steel traveling 88 feet per second go together like little league practice and freeway median strips.

These are the same people who 30 years ago drove VW Vans, and though they now wallow in luxury options such as antennas and floorboards, their former tenuous command of the road has disintegrated badly and they appear flummoxed by this new horsepower dealie thing. Not to mention, the quietude, which has to be unnerving. And isn’t it a shame these beautifully designed $25,000 MSRP Japanese machines arrived on our shores sans turn signals?

In addition, the Pious operator’s manual apparently comes folded inside some sort of secret deed granting sole possession of the entire road to the bearer. 57% of Prius drivers say they bought the car because “it makes a statement about me.” It’s all about them. Just like DC politicians, they exist in a special world where everyone else is invisible. A sentiment subtly reinforced by the way they misoperate the machinery.

But we cannot in good conscious anoint the Priutics with the imprimatur of Worst Drivers on the Road. That recognition has been meritoriously earned by the countless screeching veers caused by a vast fleet of clueless Minivan drivers shifting aimlessly across our byways. Prius drivers think they ARE the Messiah, but Minivan drivers know they have been charged with the greater responsibility of shepherding many tiny snot nosed Messiahs to and from band practice. Talk about mobile germ labs.

While Prius drivers make sane folk honk and curse and pound dashes in frustration due to turning left from the center lane and stopping for no apparent reason and refusing to turn right on red, minivan drivers will do all this, only slower AND you can’t see around them. What I’m saying is, if Toyota ever makes a Prius Minivan, do not even think of leaving your driveway. And if you live near DC when that happens, you best remain parked safely in bed.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Saint Taxes

The government has it all wrong. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who’s ever heard THAT before? “This Just In: Water Is Wet.” What’s got my knickers in a big old knotted ball the size of Kobe Bryant’s ego this time around is the age- old practice of politicians balancing their financial shortsightedness on the backs of the little guy. The little BAD guy. I’m talking about sin taxes. Of which I might be secreting a bit more firsthand outrage than the rest of you guys, since I’m pretty much that little bad guy everybody is talking about.

Oh yeah, I’m bad. I eat red meat. Often. And I drink and even smoke. Not so often, but still. Not much into sweets, but make up for it with the savories. Cheetos? Doritos? Kettle Brand Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Krinkle Cut potato chips? You betcha. And what drives me nuttier than the pecan pie shelf at a truck stop off the I- 95 in Georgia is the self- righteous attitude these pillars of the community adopt while squeezing folks like me tighter than a two headed nickel in a vise grips.

We sin tax targets aren’t allowed to squawk either, because, well… we’re sinners. We’re expected to quietly cower in our greasy damp smoky donut crumb littered corner as they slap and gouge us for doing things every 4th grader knows oughtn’t be done. Like pouring stuff into our bodies that is used to wash the rust off of chrome bumpers. For cupping our hands over our ears making la la la noises whenever a nutritionist pops up on TV. And possessing less impulse control than a mountain lion in a fish market after closing time.

It may seem short term tempting, but I’m convinced these new liquor, cigarette and sodie pop surcharges are entirely the 180 degree wrong way to go. It’s a scientific fact that we degenerate reprobates kick off early. Hardly manage to crawl our way into our sixties. Just tip right over. Every time I eat, I can hear my arteries harden. And that’s what the government should be encouraging. It’s those darn health nuts that end up lingering. They’re the ones sucking up all our Social Security and Medicare money.

So I propose; instead of sin taxes, we go the other way around entirely, and institute a series of saint taxes. Holistic tariffs. Longevity levies. You want to live forever? Fine: pay for it. First we throw an excise fee onto fresh fruit. Subsidize distilleries. French fries and cigarettes are handed out like government cheese, but every six months you are required to apply to the DMV for a license to wear a seat belt. Joggers pay tolls based on GPS readouts in their shoes. Beer drinkers receive cash rebates for every six- pack consumed and cholesterol credits can be sold or traded.

Fast food vouchers are handed out on street corners to make up for tofu being illegal and asparagus only available by prescription. Water fountains are removed from public parks and replaced with salt licks. Possession of sunblock is a felony and the only place to get vitamins is from waitresses in jazz clubs. Stress is ladled out free of charge on a regular basis by the federal government. And finally, you can waltz into any bar in the country for nothing but are charged incredible amounts of money to see a doctor. This whole paradigm shift should be easy to implement, especially when you consider those last three, are already in place. Four, depending on how loosely you define the meaning of the word “vitamins.”

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Sonia from the Block

The President revealed his nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a 54 year- old daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants who had been elevated to The Second District Court by George H W Bush. And what a genius political move it was. Sonia Sotomayor: a woman AND a Hispanic. From the South Bronx. A Catholic with diabetes. Regrettably, it looks like the search for an albino midget lesbian unwed Buddhist Bangladeshi mother with a bum leg and lycanthropy fell just a wee bit short.

It was a mite disconcerting that President Obama came up with Justice David Souter’s replacement in about a quarter of the time that it took for him to choose the family dog. Of course that dog is destined to become an integral part of the First Family. And a choice they will have to live with for ten or twelve years. A Supreme Court Justice simply affects the country and the world for the rest of our natural born lives.

Although dogs and Associate Supreme Court Justices do share many commands. A judge must SIT on the bench. They STAY there for a lifetime. Tend to LIE DOWN at the first sight of a third rail issue. SPEAK only when questioning precedents. Clarence Thomas took a year and a half to HOUSE TRAIN. Antonin Scalia is a HEEL. Rumor has it John Paul Stevens’ law clerks regularly follow him around with a ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER. And generally all nine will BEG anytime they can FETCH a consensus.

Though they lack the votes to derail the nomination, Republicans will not ROLL OVER and PLAY DEAD. Their antagonism was evident even during the decision process. Qualms were expressed about the President’s use of the word “empathy” describing his search. It was interpreted as code for a radical left wing activist judge. Empathy, to these guys, is a pejorative. Well, there’s your problem right there. No wonder the GOP approval rating is lower than steel tipped fingernails on a schoolhouse blackboard.

A tape was discovered of Sotomayor riffing off a Sandra O’Connor quote, rhapsodizing about the hope that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” and a chorus of Conservatives jumped so far down her throat only the soles of their shoes can be glimpsed wriggling at the ceiling in choreographed mock fury.

Thus they charge Sonia Sotomayor with racism. For suggesting white men are not the ultimate end- all be- all in this country. Admittedly, this accusation has not been leveled by any real elected Republicans; just the usual peanut gallery rejects of Coulter, Limbaugh, Gingrich and Tancredo. That’s right. Tom Tancredo accusing a Latina of being racist. You can't make stuff up like this. All the gas emitting from these blowhards is just another example of the Hummer calling the minivan annoying. What’s next? Bernie Madoff publicly complaining that the auto bailout math is suspect?

Their determination to escalate a confirmation fight has multiple motivations. 1. It’s necessary for the party to appear halfway relevant. 2. Combat provides an excellent opportunity to energize the base and raise money. 3. And most importantly; they can use the practice. Obstinacy, like a muscle, must be exercised.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Staycation Fun

It's harder than frozen bratwursts to believe we’ve reached the end of May already, but there it is- Memorial Day- delivering a swift kick in the buns to any lingering memory of a very ugly winter. And the mustard rises on another summer. Co- incidentally, gas prices continue to spike.. Again. Hey, alright. Just in time for travel season. What are the odds? Of course, none of us have the money to go anywhere. So, there is good news.

But we Americans would rather spread kim chee on a tofu hot dog at a dental office than give up our summer vacation. Even considering fiscal conditions that are uglier than naked rugby in the rain sponsored by the AARP. So, once again its time to trot out that old Chamber of Commerce chestnut: the Staycation.

We all know the program: Due to incredible brokeness, we go to great lengths to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re embarking on a festive pleasure trip while not actually traveling anywhere. Self- delusion as a budgetary exercise via local tourista escapading. A brave attempt to make lemonade out of surplus lemons infested with a greenish mold and spider mites.

The problem with most folks planning a Staycation, is they focus on all the high points of landmarks- visiting and unfrequented restaurant- frequenting but forget to include all the little moments that truly distinguish memorable holiday excursions. So allow me to help with a couple of handy hints to keep in mind when replicating the ultimate resort experience from the comfort of your own couch.

How to Perfect Your Family’s Fun Filled Staycation.

• Pack luggage like you’re really headed on a trip, then pick a piece to misplace for the duration. Rip off one end of a handle to complete the simulation.
• Duplicate inevitable airport delay by wasting four hours at a 7/ 11.
• Listen to Bjork’s Medulla CD on headphones at high volume as if the airlines sat you next to a screaming infant. Repeat.
• Sit on curb outside your house for 90 minutes because your room isn’t ready yet.
• First night of Staycation, drink way too much upon arrival and pass out on bathroom floor by 10 pm.
• Set alarm for 6 am to receive wake- up call for room next to yours. Knock on door at half hour intervals with cry of: “Housekeeping!”
• Remain in bed most of the first day because of third degree sunburn received after falling asleep at the beach.
• For full tropical experience, dump sand in your bed.
• Watch a pay- per- view movie, then refuse to pay for it, citing lousy reception.
• Ignore neighbors and friends by pretending you are your own long lost twin.
• Eat at a strange restaurant and grunt and point at the menu, unable to speak the native language even if it’s only Floridian.
• Grind broken staples into your carpeting before walking around in bare feet.
• Turn air conditioning off. It’s broken. Call imaginary maintenance man who never comes.
• Food poisoning. 3am. Sound like a match made in heaven? Oh, it is.
• Every two hours, burn sixty dollars.
• And finally, when time to end your Staycation, stuff all the soap and Kleenex and a towel into your bags.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
The Cheney Doctrine

I’m sick of torture. And the fact that we’re one of the countries way up there on the J.D. Powers annual “torture reliability” list makes me unwell as well. As does talking AROUND torture. What this country needs is an up front national referendum on whether we should or shouldn’t be torturing people. Oh wait. That’s right, we did have one. Last November 4th.

These aren’t your normal ordinary everyday forms of torture we’re talking about either: like 12th in line at a understaffed Starbucks or shuffling through life a Golden State Warriors fan or being forced to watch NBC’s prime time lineup against your will, I’m referring to real, state sponsored, “talk or we do something crazy” Jack Bauer on steroids kind of stuff.

The big difference being, Keifer Sutherland’s rascally television torturer gets most of his best results simply by raising his voice. “Are you going to talk?” “Never.” Compelling him to move in real close and yell in the dastardly scoundrel’s face: “ARE YOU GOING TO TALK NOW?” “Okay. Okay. I’ll talk. Just lower your voice. The kids are trying to sleep.”

Now we got Nancy Pelosi and the CIA exchanging torture lying charges. Don’t you hate it when lovers’ spats go public? The Republicans are gleefully sliding into the House Speaker cleats up because she has little of the President’s Teflon coating. To many Americans she’s that great aunt who smiles too much at Thanksgiving and always uses your full name when scolding you for poor quality table manners. “William, only cows chew with their mouths open.”

Even Dick Cheney has gotten into the act with a recent talk show offensive defending his administration’s torture policies. And as far as everybody in the nation who sees his face being mightily offended, he’s been successful. This is not a partisan thing. A National Journal poll of Republican insiders shows 57% of them think he’s hurting the party. So pretty much everybody agrees, Dick Cheney speaking on torture is redundant.

He called the enhanced interrogation techniques used at Gitmo regrettable but necessary. And you got to love that phrase: “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Sounds like instructions on how to turn on the fluorescents at a job interview. He’s not being tortured, he’s being solicited to provide easy answers to exceptionally difficult questions. In bad lighting. And those car battery cables attached to his nipples are “nervous system awareness amplifiers.”

What I don’t get is how anybody can defend waterboarding a single prisoner 183 times. Operationally, wouldn’t you think the effectiveness would start to wear off after about 60 or 70? What genius kept pushing, “I know we’ve gotten nothing the first couple hundred times here, but I got a hunch, this next time- we’re gold.” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 183 times, shame on me. As my daddy always said: 183rd time’s the charm.

The best way Dick Cheney can help this country is to creep back to that undisclosed location of his, and maybe take Joe Biden with him. Still haven’t figured out why Cheney is so obsessed with selling the positive merits of torture. Though there is that old axiom about one man’s torture being another man’s S&M turn- on, so maybe that explains more about the Cheney Doctrine than we really need to know. TMI. You want torture? Dick Cheney in fishnets. Try to pry that image out of your mind.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
First 110 Days

We sort of skipped past President Obama’s first 100 days last week due to the looming horror of the dreaded SWINE FLU EPIDEMIC, which now looks about as lethal as your average bunny rabbit furball contagion. Although people do continue to flip out, like Egypt, which slaughtered nearly Every Pig in the Country. But fear not, Anne Coulter was nowhere near the joint at the time. All I’m saying is don’t expect BLTs to show up on the daily specials menu at your favorite Cairo deli.

So let us belatedly jump into this whole 100 day retrospective dealie thing, which recently became a heavy duty benchmark of real importance, because, hey: TRIPLE DIGITS. The media has dutifully kept us informed upon the significance of this monumental occasion and have not used their indoor voice while doing so. But this space will address the first one hundred and TEN days of the Obama administration, hence OUR look back will be 10% more accurate. 10% more comprehensive. 10% better. By being 10% later.

Exactly how has the fourth Democratic administration since 1968 fared in its first 110 days? Unh. Well. You know. About what you’d expect, I guess. Depends on whom you talk to. Not a lot of agreement. General consensus is: “too early to tell.” Or as my knock- off discounted Magic 8 Ball said when consulted: “Still not cleahr. Outlok cloudy. Try again alter.”

Some experts proclaim the 44th President has done brilliantly under adverse circumstances. Others blame him for everything gone wrong with the planet in the last 3 months including the unusually high, late spring upper Midwest humidity. Unfortunately, that vaunted Bipartisan Outreach Program was about as successful as barbed wire crib rails. As they say in Variety and exceptionally frantic frog restaurants: “no legs.”

Neither is Barack getting what you would call your major assistance from either side of the aisle. “We want to work with the President.” Mmm- hmm. The same way a starving coyote wants to work with a nest of baby ducks. One discouraging word circulating the Beltway accuses the Chief Executive of being arrogant, but you know what, at least he’s smart. Because we tried arrogant and stupid and that didn’t work.

From a comedic stand- point, I’m severely disappointed. The foremost scandal thus far has been couple of Cabinet appointments that didn’t want to pay their taxes. Which most of us can relate to. Problem is, Bush was a satirical motherlode and even Clinton hit the ground running as a corpulent womanizer. But Obama is smoother than liquid black velvet affording little purchase to hook a barb onto. Besides, you can’t mock hope. Too much like kicking a small furry whimpering thing with big eyes. Got to wait for hope to scab over a bit.

Not to mention the economy being more fragile than a spun glass step- ladder, so pretty much everyone not named Rush Limbaugh is rooting for him to succeed. But with pirates and pandemics and Pakistan all set on High Menace, the job ahead looks tougher than untying a centipede’s shoe laces while wearing oven mitts. Which is bad for the nation, the world, the planet and the solar system, but good fodder for us political comics. Of course, at this point, we members of the CCJU (Comics, Clowns & Jesters Union,) just might be wiling to take one for the team.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
The Cheney Doctrine

I’m sick of torture. And the fact that we’re one of the countries way up there on the J.D. Powers annual “torture reliability” list makes me unwell as well. As does talking AROUND torture. What this country needs is an up front national referendum on whether we should or shouldn’t be torturing people. Oh wait. That’s right, we did have one. Last November 4th.

These aren’t your normal ordinary everyday forms of torture we’re talking about either: like 12th in line at a understaffed Starbucks or shuffling through life a Golden State Warriors fan or being forced to watch NBC’s prime time lineup against your will, I’m referring to real, state sponsored, “talk or we do something crazy” Jack Bauer on steroids kind of stuff.

The big difference being, Keifer Sutherland’s rascally television torturer gets most of his best results simply by raising his voice. “Are you going to talk?” “Never.” Compelling him to move in real close and yell in the dastardly scoundrel’s face: “ARE YOU GOING TO TALK NOW?” “Okay. Okay. I’ll talk. Just lower your voice. The kids are trying to sleep.”

Now we got Nancy Pelosi and the CIA exchanging torture lying charges. Don’t you hate it when lovers’ spats go public? The Republicans are gleefully sliding into the House Speaker cleats up because she has little of the President’s Teflon coating. To many Americans she’s that great aunt who smiles too much at Thanksgiving and always uses your full name when scolding you for poor quality table manners. “William, only cows chew with their mouths open.”

Even Dick Cheney has gotten into the act with a recent talk show offensive defending his administration’s torture policies. And as far as everybody in the nation who sees his face being mightily offended, he’s been successful. This is not a partisan thing. A National Journal poll of Republican insiders shows 57% of them think he’s hurting the party. So pretty much everybody agrees, Dick Cheney speaking on torture is redundant.

He called the enhanced interrogation techniques used at Gitmo regrettable but necessary. And you got to love that phrase: “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Sounds like instructions on how to turn on the fluorescents at a job interview. He’s not being tortured, he’s being solicited to provide easy answers to exceptionally difficult questions. In bad lighting. And those car battery cables attached to his nipples are “nervous system awareness amplifiers.”

What I don’t get is how anybody can defend waterboarding a single prisoner 183 times. Operationally, wouldn’t you think the effectiveness would start to wear off after about 60 or 70? What genius kept pushing, “I know we’ve gotten nothing the first couple hundred times here, but I got a hunch, this next time- we’re gold.” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 183 times, shame on me. As my daddy always said: 183rd time’s the charm.

The best way Dick Cheney can help this country is to creep back to that undisclosed location of his, and maybe take Joe Biden with him. Still haven’t figured out why Cheney is so obsessed with selling the positive merits of torture. Though there is that old axiom about one man’s torture being another man’s S&M turn- on, so maybe that explains more about the Cheney Doctrine than we really need to know. TMI. You want torture? Dick Cheney in fishnets. Try to pry that image out of your mind.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Not So Frequently Asked Questions About The Swine Flu

Q. What is swine flu?
A. A respiratory disease caused by a type A influenza virus that has mutated into H1N1, and is currently terrorizing the globe. Don’t you read the papers?

Q. What are these papers you speak of? Poor President Obama. Everything happens on his watch. Does he have the worst job in the world right now?
A. Perhaps a close second to Mexico’s Minister of Tourism. That you wouldn’t wish on the CEO of AIG.

Q. Just because of the swine flu?
A. Well, yes, and the earthquakes and the drug wars. Earlier this year, school administrators warned college kids not to spring break south of the border because of the beheadings.

Q. That’s a problem for college students?
A. Nothing chills a tropical surf buzz like a beach full of headless corpses.

Q. Kids today are soft.
A. Let’s move on.

Q. Can I contract the swine flu from eating pork?
A. No, you cannot get swine flu from eating pork. It’s an airborne, not a food- borne disease.

Q. What about bacon?
A. No. You can’t get swine flu from eating pork. Or bacon. Or pork chops. Or honey glazed pork tenderloin. Or Corky’s Memphis style baby back ribs. Or pork lips and linoleum. Or grilled ham and gouda on sun dried tomato focaccia. Or pickled pigs’ feet.

Q. How about pork rinds?
A. (Deep sigh) Yes. You can get it from pork rinds. Stay away from those.

Q. Should I keep my children out of school?
A. Please, no. Your kids are going to need all the help they can get.

Q. Didn’t we just go through this a couple years ago?
A. That was the H5N1 virus. The bird flu. This is H1N1, swine flu. Birds — Swine: different.

Q. What ever happened with that whole bird flu thing?
A. Not much. A few folks got the urge to go to the bathroom standing on a statue.

Q. Shouldn’t that experience have given us a head start with response to this outbreak?
A. Well, it certainly primed the panic pump.

Q. What’s the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?
A. A pandemic is a bunch of little epidemics. Think bouquet and flowers.

Q. Many Governors have declared a state of emergency but caution people not to be alarmed. Isn’t that sending mixed messages?
A. Yes. And no.

Q. What’s the best way to avoid getting the swine flu?
A. Wash your hands.

Q. What are you, my mom?
A. Can I help it if your mother was right? By the way, Mother’s Day… Sunday the 10th.

Q. What about those masks I see people wearing? Can they help?
A. Can’t hurt. Just take them off when you sneeze.

Q. Can I get swine flu from petting pigs on a farm?
A. No US pig has been found with the disease. Who pets pigs?

Q. Can my pot bellied pig contract the swine flu virus and give it to me?
A. No, you can’t get it from domestic pigs, I just told you that. Are you listening?

Q. Why do they call it the swine flu then?
A. They don’t. It is now officially SOIV.

Q. What’s that?
A. Swine Originated Influenza Virus. This way, we keep from defaming our proud American factory pig farms.

Q. Any other brilliant advice?
A. Don’t drink the ice water you’re cooling your Coronas in.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
I Hate Earth Day

I hate Earth Day. I’m serious. It makes my head hurt. Pours buckets full of tiredness into my soul. 40 years of watching it slowly transform from a vibrant subversive movement to an ineffectual Hallmark holiday has sucked all the energy out of me. We’re approaching President’s Day here in terms of vapid commercialization. This little hippie girl got tarted up like a hooker on shore leave payday with parades and coupons and big box stores stocking aisles to bridge the holiday purchasing gap between yellow Marshmallow Peeps and red white and blue Sparklers. “Earth Day Candy. 100% Organic Sugar. It’s green!”

I’m worn out by people so busy proving they’re planet friendly, they end up spraining their own arms patting themselves on the backs for barely remembering to throw an empty beer bottle at a blue bin. And missing. For flaunting their extreme green commitment with a personalized embroidered hemp shopping bag swinging provocatively to the front door of the Park and Rob from the back hatch of an SUV.

I’m sick of the politicians. All of them. The supposedly sympathetic ones, staging their sanctimoniously phony photo- ops in front of CGI forest glens, while their staff is under strict orders to do everything in their power to stall environmental reform to the point of arguing about punctuation. And the unsympathetic ones simply wear me out, expressing their smirking faux concern over the larger problem of cow flatulence.

I’m way weary of the corporations weaseling their way into our wallets with nonsense as transparent as the curtains at Grey Gardens. “Earth Day, brought to you by Dow Chemical. Without whom this event would neither be possible, nor necessary. Co- sponsored by Mobil- Exxon. Spanning the globe to find new ways to teach fish to breathe oil.”

And you know who just drains me? Those big hotels shoving their laminated cardboard placards into our faces from the top of the bathroom sink with the sole design of instilling guilt. “We here at Acme Rest want to see the burrowing barn owl smile. So don’t make us wash your sheets. Oh sure, you can have new towels if you want. You’ll kill Bambi’s mom. Its up to you.” Hey, I just want new towels from the previous guy. Is that going to be a problem?

The naysayers? These people are exhausting. You’d think that since Obama had rescued the fair damsel Science from 8 long years of Executive dungeon darkness, that people would at least say nice things about her hair. You’d be wrong. “We don’t know what’s causing the greenhouse effect. You’re costing jobs.” As opposed to costing lives. Then the idiots keep lighting matches to see how high the pool of gasoline has risen. Hey! Your shoes are wet. What else you need to know?

Al Gore puts me to sleep and Prius drivers make me want to plotz. Not the Prius. The drivers. The EPA? I get drowsy just thinking about them. With their impenetrable lack of bark and bite and teeth and the same goes for the media who can’t even get worked up for one freaking day a year and yeah, that also means me. As I said, I hate Earth Day. But you know what? It sure as hell beats the alternative.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Arrgh Diplomacy

It’s bad enough Obama has to juggle two wars while scrubbing the floor of the White House trying to clean up the domestic mess left by the previous tenant, but as soon as he looks out the door, what does he see… pirates. That’s right. Pirates. And no, I’m not talking left handed relievers from Pittsburgh or a limo full of Bernie Madoff wannabes or some Hong Kong cartel peddling bootleg copies of The Watchmen sequel. Actual bilge sucking pirates. With guns and boats and rum and Davy Jones’s Locker and everything. Wouldn’t be surprised to find out they’re brandishing scabbards and cutlasses in possession of a motley selection of wooden prosthetics as well. Shiver me timbers.

You all know the story. A US ship, the Maersk Alabama, on its way from Djibouti to Mombassa, filled with relief supplies, is attacked by two boatloads of scallywags. That’s right. These guys tried to hijack a boat full of relief supplies. They’re not just pirates, they’re BAD pirates. The US Navy surrounds them, and they try calling other pirates for help, but of course no one comes, because, me hearties, THEY’RE PIRATES. And then they got out- sea dogged by a group of landlubbing Navy Seals. And there was a happy ending. Especially for the rescued captain. Less so for the pirates. They were ship out of luck.

These sea bandits have terrorized the waters around the Horn of Africa since the beginning of Somalia’s civil war back in the 90s, boarding ships and holding them for ransom. Last year, it is estimated they were able to leverage over 100 million dollars in ransom, which ain’t bad booty. A lot of doubloons. Pieces of eight o’plenty. Abdullah Lami, a pirate currently holding a Greek ship hostage, vowed revenge. “We will retaliate for the killings of our men.” Dude. Avast. You are a pirate. This is not new news. Retaliation is in ye job description. As is pillaging and keelhauling and walking the plank. Thems that dies is the lucky ones.

Hillary Clinton threatened to hang em all from the yardarm, but a pirate doesn’t fear tough talk, only a bigger badder pirate. Now Obama may look good with his shirt off, the question is, how does he look in a ruffled shirt? And hoop earrings? I think he should stop shaving and convince his staff to refer to him as Blackbeard. Even if the whiskers come in gray, it still works on a couple of levels. Then we buy the Secretary of State a bird to perch on her shoulder. And encourage Joe Biden to appear in public wearing an eye patch. That could even be the real reason behind this week’s Executive Caribbean visit. We’re going to Pirate School. “Buckle your swash in six easy lessons.” Where are our buccaneers? Under our bucking hat.

This was the first time a president was forced to act against piracy on the high seas since Jefferson sent the Marines to the shores of Tripoli. Hence the song. The halls of Montezuma had something to do with tequila, I think. Or an epidemic of bad burritos. 21st century pirates. What’s next: scurvy? Who knew that piracy was a legitimate career track? Besides banking CEOs I mean. Can’t wait for the Vikings and Visigoths to make a comeback. Oh that’s right, they have, only now they call themselves Teabaggers. Talk about arrgh.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
A Little B–12 from the G–20

The excitement is palpable. G-20 Mania has swept the country like blue mold on dead fruit in the crisper bin of an abandoned refrigerator. Especially amongst the 18 Americans aware that the G- 20 is a meeting of the leaders of the world’s top economic nations and not a Bingo call. It may be officially known as the G- 20 Leaders’ Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, but it’s more of a potluck dinner for the gated community of the planet’s yuppie nations (the ones to whom dentistry is not unfamiliar) and the casserole of hope and negotiation President Obama carried overseas to London went over a smash: like tuna fish tea biscuits at a cat show.

Make no mistake about it, the G-20 includes some heavy schtarkers. Together, the assembled represented 2/3rds of the world population and 85% of global gross national product. 19 big time important type countries plus the European Union and this year’s special guests: Spain and the Netherlands. Not to mention a whole mess of other countries who either slipped the door guy a wad of Euros or hopped over the velvet rope while security was distracted by a particularly tasty order of fish and chips.

You know how people get. Always trying to show off by crashing parties they think they should have been invited to. “Hey babe, want to be in the thick of some major diplomatic mix? Got a nice dress? Come with me to the G- 20. I can get us an audience with the Queen or we can wave at Michelle.”

There’s some question as to how many delegations actually decamped in England for this Ambassadorial Set Burning Man: estimates range from 21 all the way to 28. Why is it called it the G- 20 then? Nobody knows. As we can deduce from the situation in which the world finds itself currently mired, math is not our strong suit. Most likely, another suggestion from the same guy who convinced global bankers they could keep selling increasingly risky subprime mortgages to each other for all eternity.

Despite the tortured arithmetic, the G- 20 is not necessarily two and a half times better than the G- 8, scheduled for its annual summer junket this July in La Maddalena, Italy. (just what Italy needs, more plump tourists in July) Besides, the way these things work, the smaller the group, the better chance of achieving anything more consequential than choosing whether the caterer serves creamy or deli style cole slaw at lunch. Say what you will about dictators, they are serenely unencumbered by a paralyzing concern for consensus.

The G-Twenty-Somethings did institute a couple cosmetic financial reforms and supposedly negotiated (deep breath) “a new set of rules for oversight, transparency and conduct for offshore tax havens as part of a broader effort to overhaul the regulatory structure of the world economy.” Yeah. That’ll work. CNN’s closing ceremonies screen bug, “Saving The World,” might have been a bit premature is all I’m saying.

The festivities did wrap with a flourish of glad- handing and syrupy platitudes covered by an over- abundance of “blue skies straight ahead.” But maybe that’s what we need most right now. A planetary panacea placebo; like swallowing Echinacea at the first sign of liver failure. Can’t hurt. And if that’s all that came out of this confab: a global shot of B- 12 from the G- 20, fine. One thing in optimism’s favor. Its free.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Stuff a Sanitary Sock in It

Oh for crum’s sake. Settle down people. You’re fixated. You’ve inflated this whole steroids thing into a national obsession. Suddenly, steroids are the root of all evil. An Al Qaeda trick designed to devastate Democracy from within. No. That’s not it. It’s athletes trying to cover Father Time’s spread. The average Major League Baseball career is 5.6 years long. If you’re going to make it, better start today. And be willing to do whatever it takes. Especially after Marvin Bernard and Fernando Tatis start going long.

This unhealthy obsession has all the earmarks of payback. Face it: your average baseball writer is smarter than your average ball player. Better educated. Reads more books. Some without pictures in them. Watches PBS. On purpose. And yes, they know they’re smarter and the players probably do too, but demonstrate little, if any, respect; residing at the top of the heap of the cream of the crop of the modern gladiator business.

Try to remember how star athletes got treated back in high school. Now multiply that by a gazilliondy, and substitute free money for test answers and sculpted siliconed strippers for cheerleaders. Pampered their entire lives, these guys never possess a single second’s doubt as to whose existence is more exalted. Theirs. Which is why the girls, the money, the agents, the money, the fame and the money, all seek them out. For 5.6 years and beyond.

Because these grown boys are Mount Olympus’ inheritors, they treat the pesky inquisitive, know- it- all, four- eyed, 8 year old Taurus- driving scribes like spit. And they do. Mocking them. Loudly. In their less than delicate jockular way. In front of the whole locker room. And pretty much do everything in their power to make the sportswriters jobs harder. Not all of them. Not all the time. And not necessarily intentionally. But one guy, once, accidentally, is all it takes to trigger a long dormant stereotype from the formative days of Wedgie City South’s class of ‘whenever.’

With steroids, however, the worm has not only turned but grown teeth and is threatening to chew up the record book and the Hall of Fame. How else to explain the intensity of the outrage? You know what? It’s a game. Everybody’s looking for an edge. Kids are taught; “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” Race car teams lighten loads. Football coaches rip off signals. Hockey players knock out their own teeth to look meaner.

Also, why is the anger focused on a few players and not on MLB itself, which knew what was going on and did nothing about it? Oh, I forgot, they didn’t know. Yeah, right. And Formica is edible. Get off it. Everybody knew. I knew. My wife knew. My Aunt Hoogolah knew. And she don’t play. Much. Anymore. In 1998, there was a bottle of Androstenedione lurking in the back of Mark McGwire’s locker during TV interviews. And the Commissioner didn’t know? Then he’s dumb as a stump and should be put out of his misery with a shot to the back of the head with a splintered maple bat.

The sins of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez have received more attention than all the banking irregularities of the past five years put together and right about now, I’m kind of wishing all those investigative reports had switched focus. So give it a rest, would you? Especially with Easter so close; when Christ comes out of the cave, sees his shadow and baseball season starts. And for a brief shining moment, every fan’s October dreams are renewed. Hey, if the Brewers and Tampa Bay can make the playoffs, anything is possible. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Some players cheated and lied. We know. Now shut up and play ball.

Eternal optimist and San Francisco political comedian Will Durst’s seats at AT&T Park are in section 110. Giants and Yankees in October. ‘62 all over again. Except the ending.
The Baby Steps Blues

Excuse me, but I got a couple of questions. What’s the damn deal? The hell happened? Am I missing something? I mean, come on, Barack Obama assumed office almost two entire complete whole months ago and I look in the paper and guess what? Equivalence. The war in Iraq… rages on; Global warming… continuing hotness. AND in case you haven’t noticed, the economy… major suckage with the emphasis on the uck. The hell is up with that? I thought we were in line for some change. This sounds like a serious case of the old same old same old. The biggest difference since January 20th is Rush Limbaugh now dresses like a Sopranos Family hit man and his head has gotten bloatier. If that’s possible.

And now Mister Smarty Pants Commander- in- Chief is talking about how any significant improvement is going to take time. “Don’t expect too much too soon.” Oh yeah, great. Change, but small change. Nickels and pennies and dimes. Maybe one of his advisors should remind him that his constituents are not an incremental people. Rather, we have the attention span of hickory ash in a wind tunnel. In the land of “too much is not enough,” tomorrow is too far into the future by at least two days.

This “baby steps” approach is definitely not what people had in mind last November. Pretty sure folks were thinking more along the lines of something wonderful right away. Snap some fingers. Wave some wands. Tall buildings being leapt in a single bound. The righteous smiting of foes. Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two? The President can. The President can, ‘cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. And why did we think that? ‘Cause Obama done told me.

We should be waking up right now swimming in sunshine and rainbows and Mylar balloons. Instead; storm clouds all around, and its raining bailouts and bank failures and bedbugs. I’m not kidding. Bedbugs have made a comeback. In the USA. That’s a straight shot of third world right there my friends. I think I would have remembered hearing anything in his stump speeches about bedbugs. What’s next: cholera? Yellow fever? River blindness? Angelina Jolie adopting domestically?

How long are we supposed to wait before the President kisses boo- boo and makes everything all better? Another month? Five weeks? Five weeks and two days? I know. I know. I know. It took longer than sixty days to get us into this mess, it’ll probably take sixty more to get us out of it. But after his first sixty days, FDR had ended Prohibition, vanquished the Depression and was two thirds of the way into world peace, until that spoilsport Fuhrer came along.

Maybe the problem is geographic. After all the District of Columbia was built on a swamp. Kind of hard to hit the ground running when your landing ramp has the consistency of She Crab Soup. Not to mention all the potholes, rolls of red tape and barbed wire the opposition thoughtfully installed as welcoming gifts. Knowing this, I still don’t care. I just want better. No, scratch that. I want best. And I want best right now. And as an American I’m perfectly within my rights to keep complaining, wee, wee, wee, all the way home. So I will.

Will Durst is the political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Check out the book: The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available from Amazon.
Bye American

Can we stop with the waving of the sharp instruments for a minute and speak rationally to this whole ugly recession mess we find ourselves currently mired in? C’mon. You know what recession mess I’m talking about. You’re packing a bag lunch and taking mass transit to visit the public library to use their ancient computer to check out the job classifieds on Craigslist for crum’s sake. Yeah, THAT recession mess. Well, you’ll be glad to hear we’ve positively identified the bad guys responsible for this meltdown and they end up having awfully familiar faces.

Go ahead. Guess who’s to blame? No, not the subprime mortgage brokers or Bernie Madoff and his ilk or those reverse Robin Hood hedgefund speculators throwing trillions of dollars worth of derivatives around like paper towels at a chili cheese dog eating competition. Nope. The dastardly bums that created the world wide financial crisis is… us. That’s right. You and me. And I hope we’re happy.

For making former Silicon Valley start up CFOs toil as Indian casino valets.. For driving down the price of 2 year old Porsche Boxters to the level of a 96 Taurus with a blown head gasket. For forcing casseroles and meatloaf onto the menus of 3 star Michelin chefs. It’s all our fault. And how are we doing it? By not buying enough stuff. Damn us anyway. How dare we?

Who cares whether we’re employed or not? Don’t we realize we are the pistons that drive the free market engine? It’s our God- given patriotic duty to go out there and buy stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. We don’t do easy. We do compulsory.

Remember how good it felt to buy that brand new DVD we had no intention of ever watching? Aren’t you just itching to tear the shrink- wrap off of something with your teeth right now? Anybody can conspicuously consume when things are going well and money geysers from the ground like it did between the Bushes. It takes a true retail soldier to run up credit card bills when banks are raising interest rates so high, it would not be too far off the mark for them to utilize a dorsal fin as a logo.

I wouldn’t get this squishy if I wasn’t seeing pubescent girls get punched in the gut with our selfish frugality. Girl Scout Cookie sales have sunk to levels not seen since Jimmy Carter was scolding us while wearing cardigans. The Girl Scouts! Okay, that’s it. I don’t know which of you commie pinko yellow rat cretinous toads managed to hypnotize the rest of us into believing we’re so broke we can’t afford a couple of measly packages of Thin Mints, but you’ve gone too far. You fiend. How soon before we take out our parsimonious wrath on the innocent producers of Sham- Wow and Snuggie?

Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you; open your wallets. Ask yourself, “what would Paris Hilton do?” It doesn’t matter what you buy. A Jonas Brothers lunch box. A $75 grass fed, hand massaged, Kobe beef porterhouse steak, bathed in boysenberry infused truffle butter. A 96 piece Limited Edition Pewter Napkin Ring Set in the shape of the characters from the Lord of the Rings. Ford. Besides, this isn’t about you and me people. This isn’t about America. This isn’t about Detroit. This is about the Girl Scouts.

Will Durst is the political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them...
Catch Durst blogging live from the Masters Tournament in Augusta Ga, April 6th- 12th. Masters.org.
And the book:The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available from Amazon.
The Tomorrow Speech

Barack Obama’s initial foray into that belly of the beast known as a joint session of Congress was nothing less than a resounding… semi- success. Sort of. It wasn’t quite a State of the Union Address. His Inaugural pre- empted that. You get one or the other. That’s the rule. This was a State of the Union Address Lite. With only 60% of the expectations of your normal State of the Union Address. A pseudo SOTU, if you will.

Stepping into the den of 535 lions, (okay, 534 and Roland Burris,) the new President proved himself to be a worthy equal to Ronald Reagan when it comes to lofty unbridled optimism. Which is good. Because he spent most of his first thirty days warning us about the true state of the economy. Which is bad. Really bad. Oh don’t get me wrong, it could be worse. So far, no nostril leeches. Fingers crossed.

Obama used the forum to echo Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s assertion that we could easily emerge from our financial crisis in two years if we just get this banking mess under control. Oh, is that all? You might as well say: “we can marry the princess and live happily ever after, as long as we kill that pesky pack of three headed dragons smoking on the drawbridge.. And all we got in our pockets is a couple of expired credit cards, a bent rubber paper clip, 43¢ in change and some green lint.” Then again, who knows? Maybe we elected ourselves President MacGyver.

One small problem with The Blueprint For The Future is a distinct lack of those pretty skinny white lines on it. But this speech wasn’t about specifics. It was a halftime pep talk from a coach whose team is down by 4 touchdowns. “Don’t you know who we think we are? We’re America dammit. When we say we’re going to kick some serious innovative butt, you can bet the wind farm that we will. And the rest of the world better damn well get out of our way.” He even called for sacrifice. Which to Americans is the equivalent of saying “nostril leeches.”

In the peanut gallery, Nancy Pelosi bounced up and down rooting on Team Obama like a cheerleader whose Gatorade had been spiked with No- Doz. All she was missing was a pleated skirt and some pom- poms. And Joe Biden filled the role of court jester again by allowing himself to be the butt of the President’s jokes. He’s becoming the Tommy Smothers of the new Administration. “The public always liked you best.”

Right now, the President’s approval rating is Teflonizing everything he touches. One of those instant polls revealed that almost every single Democrat and 1 out of every 4 Republicans were inspired by Obama’s 52 minute colorized impersonation of FDR. Although considering his unremittingly upbeat performance, I see him more in the mold of that other populist Depression Era hero, Annie: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar. That tomorrow, there’ll be sun.” A sun that is going to solve all our energy needs. And oh yeah, did I mention, we’re going to cure cancer. Tomorrow. Of course, as they say in the song. That darn tomorrow… it's always a day away.

Will Durst is the political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them...
He'll be blogging live from the Masters Tournament in Augusta Ga, April 6th- 12th. Masters.org.
The Best Cabinet Money Can’t Buy

It was weird to hear the words that flew out of Barack Obama’s mouth when asked to comment on one of the four or five or FORTY of his Cabinet appointments that were forced to pull out before their confirmation hearings commenced.

“I screwed up.”

Unh. Yeah. You did. Big time. Like you were brandishing a Phillips head the size of an eighteen- wheeler mounted on six- story scaffolding surrounding bevel gear teeth normally used to rotate observatories. But how nice to hear you admit it. Not to disparage any of your predecessors, but it’s a refreshing citrusy change, if you know what I mean and I know you do.

Now, obviously it's not the President’s fault when his staff selects candidates less qualified for a Cabinet position than a Catholic convent receptionist meets the criteria for bouncer in a biker bar, but for crum’s sake, dude, you got to start vetting the people you got vetting people for you. You know what I mean. Get someone you trust to vet the people you have vetting the people who are in charge of vetting your appointments. Or you could even… nah, that should be good enough.

Two Secretary of Commerce nominees have slunk away like hyenas chastised from a zebra carcass by a pride of dusty lionesses. Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat under investigation for doing something bad. Pissing off the Clintons, I think it was. The other was Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican under suspicion of pissing off other Republicans by being part of a Cabinet with a Clinton in it. So, once again, it’s all about the Clintons. Which is just the way they like it.

Gregg had decided to take the job only if the Democratic Governor of the Granite State agreed to appoint a Republican in his stead. Which is not a deal. Because deal making is a bad thing and can get you impeached. This was a good thing. Similar to a deal, but different in so many subtle yet vital ways.

The new Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, forgot to pay his taxes and now he’s in charge of the Department in charge of the IRS. So we got that going for us. From this day forward, any of us gets busted for any sort of tax irregularity, all we got to do is whip out a picture of the Sec Treas and say- “Just following the big guy’s lead.” And if you believe that, then let me introduce you to my good friend Bernie Madoff, who is going to make us a bundle.

Finally, former Senator Tom Daschle told the press he was sorry he didn’t pay his taxes. $128,000 worth of sorry. Now I don’t know much, but I’m pretty sure once you get three digits left of the comma, “sorry” doesn’t cut it anymore. No wonder the Democrats are so adamant about how the rich don’t want to pay taxes. It’s a knowledge that stems from personal experience.

Of course, this could all be just a clever ploy by the Obama folks to raise money. See, the deal is, they appoint a whole series of deadbeats who are forced to pay their back taxes and pretty soon this whole stimulus thing is totally covered. Next up: Wesley Snipes for Commerce, Chuck Berry for Interior and Willie Nelson for Agriculture. Who will change the Department motto to: “Smoke em if you got em.” Advice the President may be taking to heart on the South Lawn as we speak.

Tax Cut Zombies from The Planet No!

It is the stuff of nightmares. Hear the shabby shuffle of their soft somnambulant stutter and your skin begins to crawl. To see their haunted hollow eyes on the cable news shows taking no notice of their surroundings is a spiral straight into terror. The worst part is the cries of the children as they cower behind couches, hands over their ears blocking out the monotonous intonations of the mind numbing mantra- “Tax Cuts. Tax Cuts. Tax Cuts.” They are the Tax Cut Zombies from the Planet No!, and they are not of this earth. Okay, maybe they are, but they sure don’t live in the real world.

Citizens of America, stay in your homes. The Minority leadership has unleashed their legions of virtual undead to battle the White House’s economic stimulus package with a soul sapping single- mindedness and they’re still out there. “Tax cuts- good. Spending- bad.” The slogan echoes mournfully off of marble as the empty husks of conservative humanity stumble through the halls of Congress with heavy plodding steps and outstretched arms lurching from microphone to microphone.

It is a purely defensive tactic borne of panicky desperation as the GOP recoils from the horror of their first Congressional- Executive confrontation in 14 years lacking relevance. In the House, they stood as an impenetrable wall of flesh, with not a single vote for the plan coming from their ranks. And the only three Senators to cross the aisle were the two ladies from Maine, who in the privacy of their own homes, are rumored to dress up as Democrats, and Arlen Specter, who pulled a Blagojevich, trading his support for inclusion of a pet project. But a good pet project. As opposed to all those bad pet projects. Which get called pork. By the pigs. Go figure.

In a courageous attempt to find common ground, Barack Obama risked infection from the mindless drones, meeting them en masse; yet not a single soul was able to summon the will to escape from the voodoo spell placed by Rep. John Boehner (R- Hell). He’s a powerful sorcerer who fuels his entranced hordes by reading aloud fragments of the sacred ancient texts of Ronald Reagan. No one knows how these pitiable wretches slid into these depths of depravity. It might have been their penchant for playing hardball and simultaneous disinclination to don helmets.

Repelled by light and logic and with no thought for food, water or self- preservation through long- range sustainable employment opportunities via shovel- ready infrastructure investment, the dull unthinking brainwashed shells sense their strength is in numbers and clutch together in a pack through Media- Land marching to the beat of a non- existent drummer. The most frightening aspect is not the glee they take in their current state, but how good they are at it. Like they were spawned to drag their feet.

But even though the Chief Executive may have successfully dodged the slow moving reanimated ghouls that are the Tax Cut Zombies from the Planet No!, his learning curve has barely begun to arc. For soon he will inevitably encounter the dark forces of equally if not more terrifying inhuman threats such as: the Lobbyist Vampires of Capitol Hill. American Werewolves in Baghdad.. The Ethanol Children of the Corn. Nightmare on Wall Street. The Return of the Son of the Bride of Frankenstein’s Social Security Meltdown. The Texas Oil Profits Chainsaw Massacre. The Night of the Living General Accounting Office Estimates. And Aliens 12,000,000. In Congress, no one can hear you negotiate. No, they can’t.

Triggering a Silent Scream

The President is not what you call dim. He’s obviously aware the only thing worse than a bleakening economy is a bleakening economy where the most depressed of us are forced to watch the least depressed of us get handed eight figure bonuses. And no, that’s not counting the two figures to the right of the decimal point. It’s one thing to be supplementing your diet with discount cat food. It’s another thing to have your nose rubbed into the tiny tins by the people responsible for compelling you to munch on the Meow Mix.

So, St. Barack made a big deal of reassuring the public that at least a modicum of accountability will exist on his watch by announcing a cap on executive salaries for the banks that want to be part of the government bailout. And the number of banks that are looking to be part of the government bailout is approximately… all of them. Times two.

In retrospect, it’s not difficult to figure out why all these trusted financial institutions went belly up. The people they got running those things have the same sense that god gave a beach pail full of green plastic Easter grass. Proved to be more self- centered than the backstage bathroom mirror at a Debutantes Ball in the Hamptons. Crazier than naked flagpole sitters in a blizzard.

They bought into their own Tom Wolfe “Masters of the Universe” BS. Mesmerized by the siren song of a little thing called unregulated greed, which ended up sucking them drier than a four- day dead possum on an interstate outside Tucson. Making them weep and keen and cry that it was up to us to bail them out or all hell was going to break loose, and we, like the large mouth suckers we are, snapped at the bait. Pulling muscles in our rear haunches rushing to give them palettes full of cash before our retirement accounts retired for good.

So what do they do with all our bailout money? Help out society and homeowners by fixing the sub- prime mess they created? What are you, nuts? They spent it on themselves. AIG arranged a little spa vacation at a Ritz- Carlton.. Citigroup tried to buy a $50 million corporate jet then put their name on a stadium. Wells Fargo planned a staff retreat in Vegas to “recognize team members by emphasizing their value to the company.” Recognize their value to the company? The company’s broke. You could recognize that value with a shovel, a six- foot hole and a pointy stick.

AND despite their worst year since Hoover, Wall Street passed around 18 billion dollars in bonuses. To the exact same idiots steering our grocery carts down the pet food aisle in the first place. Who will undoubtedly find loopholes the size of Saskatchewan in the President’s edicts, but, at this point, like the size of the Valentine, it’s the thought that counts. Even if only one guy gets his hands slapped, it's ten more red knuckles than we’ve seen in 97 months.

What we’ve been experiencing is bank robbery in reverse. The perps didn’t even bother wearing masks. And triggered absolutely no silent alarms. The problem is, those security cameras in the lobby are pointing the wrong way. You should do what I do. Now, every time I make a deposit, I ask the teller for 2 pieces of identification. “Oh yeah, what’s your mother’s maiden name?”

The School for Scandal. Version 2.1

A politician making lemonade after being pelted by a bushel of media chucked lemons is as familiar as red yarn on the handle of a black bag on the luggage carousel at O’Hare. But few alive have seen the likes of Rod Blagojevich. Not content to stir up a nice cold pitcher or erect a simple stand, the former Illinois Governor is challenging Minute Maid’s supremacy in the field of citrus concentrate. Refusing to exit the stage quietly after removed from office, he instead has gone on the offensive. Some might argue the 52 year- old Democrat has given a whole new meaning to the word “offensive.”

His fruity crusade began after being impeached by the Illinois Assembly on a vote of 114- 1, leaving many to wonder: who the hell was the 1? His barber? No. Turns out it was his sister- in- law. After all, she’s got years of cranberries and stuffing to share with the guy. Then, in spite of delivering an impassioned yet loopy closing argument, the State Senate voted 59- 0 to convict and booted Blago right off his gubernatorial perch into the long snaking lines of the newly unemployed.

Because of his inspirational theatrics, every former playbook for arrogant politicians accused of scandal and disgrace has to be thrown out the window. So, if you ever find yourself caught dead to rights, here’s a revised list of the top 10 actions to take. The classics still apply. None of the following will work without being applied over a base of: deny, deny, deny. Remember this is about survival. Follow Master Blagojevich’s lead. Chances are he will make more from his book deal than he ever hoped to extort from his constituent victims.

10. Hold a press conference to read a poem. Stay away from the arty crowd like Verlaine, Rimbaud or Sylvia Plath. Pick a heterosexual who didn’t commit suicide. Someone classy, like Kipling.

9. Remember who is the victim here. You are. Claim a vast left or right wing conspiracy. The more fantastic the presumed motivation, the better, such as: they had to get rid of you in order to raise taxes. Or they kicked you out because you knew too much.

8. Two words: The View.

7. During all media appearances, carry a Bible. If no one’s going to buy that, try Winston Churchill. A book by him. Not desiccated pieces of his mummified corpse.

6. Witch Hunt. Keep repeating the phrase: Witch Hunt. Which hunt? This hunt? That’s right. Witch Hunt. Occasionally throw in an “unconstitutional” as well, just to break it up.

5. Compare the effect on your family to a national disaster. Pearl Harbor. RFK’s assassination. The day CBS canceled “Dallas.”

4. Keep telling the press that you CAN’T WAIT to tell your side of the story. Then never ever ever get tricked into telling your side of the story.

3. Can never go wrong blaming lawyers. Fire one of your defense attorneys. “Though convinced of my innocence, he was terrified to offend the powers that be.”

2. Lump yourself in with other oppressed leaders like Ghandi. Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King. Joseph Stalin. Hah. Last one was a test.

1. Finally, the number one reason you can’t quit is you don’t want to send the wrong message to your children. “This is not about me. This is about standing up for the kids. And the elderly.”

Will Durst is a political comic who occasionally writes a little. This is one of those times.
Please buy Durst’s book. The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing. Great Valentine's gift.
The Honeymoon is Over.

It might have been the shortest honeymoon this side of a drunken Britney Spears careening off of quarter poker video games in Vegas. I’m talking about Barack Obama’s relationship with the press after his Inauguration as the 44th President of the United States. His hands- off grace period might even have edged into negative territory. There was no celebratory carrying over the threshold here. This was more like- dropped like a sack of potatoes on the porch. Major veranda dumpage. Honeymoonus interruptus. The epitome of a honeymo.

First he was criticized for giving a workmanlike speech. “Very un- transcendent.” “Where was the poetry?” Then, even though he mentioned no names, he was faulted for dissing George W Bush by declaring that America is ready to lead again, implying that someone, who shall remain nameless, wasn’t very lively in that whole “leading” line of activity.

Why stop there? He could also be accused of fostering a frigid climate, failing to float ethereally out to the podium, neglecting to turn the Reflecting Pool water into wine, demonstrating an obvious refusal to feed the multitudes with 7 loaves and 7 fishes, a marked inability to part the Potomac and not raising Lincoln from the dead. And while we’re at it, how come he didn’t he use his ears as wind baffles to protect the crowd from the briskness?

But that’s the media. And that’s their job. The rest of America couldn’t care less. Wedged tighter than jarred anchovies in the middle of 2 million of their closest friends, the multitudes were just happy to see or hear or even be near this defining moment of democracy. For many, it was like going to heaven and coming home. Only they had to walk. Both ways. The Metro lines were so long you’d think they that had pinned hundred- dollar bills to the seats. And cabs were like available mortgages in Florida: a charming but imaginary concept.

And even with all those people, not a single arrest was made. Not that there wasn’t any crime. After all, Congress was still in session. But, except for an overriding fear that someone might be crushed or speared by Aretha Franklin’s hat, the executive transition was peaceful. The only glitch of the day was when Barack Obama and Supreme Court Head Justice John Roberts danced around the oath like two frozen footed teenagers on a first date. Then two Senators went down during the Congressional Lunch. But Ted Kenney is fine after suffering from fatigue. And 91 year old Robert Byrd quickly recovered from being informed that the new president is actually a Negro. “What? He fathered two black children? Unnnnnh.” Thud!

Dick Cheney garnered much attention in his Dr. Strangelove garb. Apparently Voldermort’s enchantment spell wore off an hour early. Reportedly, the outgoing Vice President was in a wheelchair due to a pulled hamstring while moving boxes. Apparently, even empty, Pandora needed them back. The Vice- President moving his own boxes. Yeah. I buy that. Or maybe he’s trying to weasel workman’s comp on the last day of his government job.

Finally, to show their affection, the crowd lovingly serenaded George Bush’s departing helicopter as it flew overhead. Poor baby. Hardly anybody paid attention to his farewell address, and absolutely nobody asked for a forwarding address. Then again, with the shape he left this country in, let’s just put it this way; he is not getting his security deposit back.


It is the wackiest photo- op since Sarah Palin went herself a- turkey- farming. 3 ex presidents, the current president and the future president all kicking it old school, chilling in the Oval Office talking about what cool carpeting abounds. The five of them together IS a great image. And if Barack Obama is serious about that economic stimulus plan of his, we could raise a ton of money selling poster- sized copies of this historic gathering for use as a bipartisan dartboard. And George the Younger conveniently positioned himself in the middle to act as a natural bulls eye.

What the New York Post dubbed Club Prez was either a power lunch on steroids or the world’s most exclusive fraternity hazing. Can’t you just imagine the elders pulling an Ashton Kutcher and pranking Obama with a dribble glass or faking a Pakistani nuke strike on Kashmir? Nobody knows what subjects were breached, but the general consensus is personal experience was offered up as advice. For instance, the Bush boys and Jimmy Carter might have cautioned against getting stuck in the quicksands of the Middle East and Bill Clinton probably advocated the installation of an in- house dry cleaning operation. I’d love to report the five of them fought like raccoons, knocking over furniture and bloodily emerging with torn lapels and black eyes, but they all sucked it up and played nice. I’m sure nobody wanted to answer to Laura if anything happened to the new china.

The Oval Office bonding picture is destined to become as iconic as that Vegas snapshot of the Rat Pack outside the Sands that people regularly Photoshop themselves into. An insertable gap in the photo appears between Clinton and Carter, who reportedly get along like tinfoil and teeth. Something having to do with who deserved the title of “Mister Peace Maker” back in the 90s and who deserved “Mr. Grandstander.” Jimmy Carter (and isn’t he getting a bit long in the tooth to still be called Jimmy?) is starting to exude that smug self- righteousness you normally associate with your priggish Aunt Hoogolah. Starting to look like her too.

As lease- holder of the residence where lunch was held, Dubyah was the very soul of genial host, but does appear to be chomping at the bit to get the hell out of public housing. “I want to thank the President- Elect for joining the Ex- Presidents for lunch” forgetting he’s contractually obligated to stick around until January 20th. Complaints arose that Obama upstaged the President by addressing the press. But come on, upstaging George Bush? At this point, a #2 pencil stuck in a ceiling tile could upstage George Bush.

This is only the second time in recent memory anybody’s seen such a congregation of POTUSes and I doubt the fancy word guys have come up with a plural moniker yet. So here’s our chance for linguistic immortality. There’s the old favorites. Assembly. Army. Pride. Quiver. Swarm. Parliament. Clutch. Caucus. Mob. But I’m shooting for something more suitable- like the locusts: a plague. Or maybe the lapwings: a deceit. Stud of mares- yeah, you wish. Closer to a prickle of porcupines. Labor of moles. An unkindness of ravens. Shiver of sharks. Lamentation of swans. Mutation of thrushes. Nah, none of those work. Gaggle? Giggle? Sludge, snort, flutter, bloat? Jamboree? No. no. no. Wait. I got it. A Port-a- Potty of POTUSes. Inimitable, alliterative and apt.

Will Durst is a political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.

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