ASSHOLE OF THE YEAR by Paul Krassner

It’s Tim Russert. The moment he said to Dennis Kucinich at a “debate” among Democratic presidential candidates, “This is a serious question,” you knew it wouldn’t be. A responsible journalist might have asked, “Why do think that Dick Cheney should be impeached rather than George Bush?” But Russert wanted to further marginalize Kucinich–to ridicule him in a flying saucer kind of way–and, like a trial lawyer who already knows what a defendant’s answer will be–his “serious question” was “Did you see a UFO?”

Kucinich tried to explain that the U in UFO means “unidentified” flying object. He joked, “I’m moving my campaign office to Roswell, New Mexico and Exeter, New Hampshire.” He pointed out that Jimmy Carter had seen a UFO, and “More people–” Russert interrupted him with a statistic: 14% of Americans had seen UFOs. Kucinich asked him to repeat that number, as if to thank him for inadvertently providing him with the UFO sighters vote. Russert repeated the number and, with the smug satisfaction of having generated a guaranteed sound bite, he said, “I want to ask Senator Obama…”

There was a predictable trickle-down effect. Even Bill Maher mocked Kucinich, though Maher’s real target should’ve been Russert. A few days later, I met a woman who asked me who my ideal candidate is. “Dennis Kucinich,” I said. She responded, “Isn’t he the one who said he saw some Martians?” Of course, there’s a video of that encounter in the secret government implied-blackmail lock-box, along with the video of a threesome–Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and a billy goat–and the video of Rudy Guliani performing an abortion on Pat Robertson’s mistress.

Ironically, Russert’s co-moderator, Brian Williams–in his capacity as host of Saturday Night Live–referred to the mainstream media’s proactive assumption that Hillary Clinton will win in the primaries and then in the general election. Fundraising is the name of that particular political game, because the candidates with the most money will buy the most TV commercials and print ads. Tim Russert gives a claymation face to that open conspiracy. And in the process, that old saying and song, “There’s no business like show business,” lands in the outdated metaphors graveyard. There is indeed a business like show business. It’s the news.

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith.

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