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Open Mic

Scandal Scope

By Richard von Busack

Hunger for scandal is healthy in journalists. To succeed in the profession, one needs a taste for rot and garbage to rival the appetites of Templeton the rat in Charlotte's Web. But finally, scandals of the day lose their savor--by the time it was over, the Peterson case was squeezed as dry as an old-age pensioner's teabag. All we can do, then, is sit by the fire and sigh, "Where is the muck of next year?" Here's a list of scandals we hope to monger in 2005. Hold your nose.

While a new computer system in the archives at a suburban Houston police station is being installed, the files are shipped off to storage. Behind a cobweb-covered filing cabinet, a temp employee finds a discarded folder and smuggles it out to the press. Just a little memento of a "lost year": this is a "possession of cocaine" arrest record complete with two crystal-clear mug shots. John Waters once said, "Everybody looks better when they're under arrest." Sadly, this isn't the case for George W. Bush. . . .

Divorce is always a tragedy, isn't it? Especially those really acrimonious divorces--so full of terrible public accusations and sordid details of groping and sexual harassment. We mean occasions of infidelity so flagrant that it surpasses the tolerance of a Kennedy to accept it, even if that Kennedy is named M___a Shr___r. . . .

During the trial of Saddam Hussein, the former dictator--tanned, rested and ready--keeps repeating that he sent peace overtures to the U.S. State Department shortly before Operation Desert Freedom commenced. Lies, all lies, claims Condoleezza Rice, but then Reuters finds Saddam's correspondence. . . .

The Japanese have a verb for it: bushuru--meaning, "to commit an instance of embarrassing public vomiting." The word was coined to commemorate the occasion when Bush the elder flashed the hash right into the lap of the prime minister of Japan. The spin machine has to chug into action after Dick Cheney has that mortifying vomiting incident during a tour of a veterans hospital. No, no, no--it wasn't witnessing the blood, filth and crowding in the wards--it was that questionable oyster Cheney ate at a fundraising luncheon. Yeah, that's it. . . .

Consider George Michael, mathematician John Forbes Nash, playwright Joe Orton and Karl Rove. When Rove is arrested in late 2005, what crime will these four men have in common? (Hint: "The public lavatory! The last bastion of male privilege!"--Orton, What the Butler Saw.)

"It's only a litmus test if we say it is" is the unofficial motto of the Bush-appointed Justice Department. When that new Supreme Court candidate is sent up from district court, the judge seems an unstoppable candidate: a rock-ribbed Republican, half-black, half-Hispanic and female, and simultaneously pro-life and pro-death (penalty). Unfortunately, a monkey wrench is thrown in the works when the New York Times reveals she is utterly illiterate. . . .

A sensation at an Antiques Roadshow taping in Baltimore. The droning of the experts on old baseball cards, Bakelite jewelry and Toby jugs is disrupted by shouts of triumph when a furniture dealer discovers a hidden drawer in a 200-year-old Chippendale end table. Inside: a manuscript soon verified as the secret memoirs of George Washington.

Washington reveals his sexual conquests, including a dismayingly detailed account of a dirty week spent in Boston with Betsy Ross. He writes of his apprehension of the other founding fathers: John Adams ("I should rather eat a bushel of chokecherries than endure that man's company for an hour") and James Madison ("a half-sized squirt with an unmanly handshake and as for his wife, Dolly, one cannot trust a woman who does not drink, for it is truly saith, what is she hiding?").

He pours contempt on both Thomas Jefferson ("a weasel in human form, as trustworthy as a two dollar plough") and Benjamin Franklin ("in faith, even the crack of dawn is not safe around that prating Quaker"). In the finale, Washington voices his feelings about religion: "A comfort for servants and slaves, but mere shoofly-pie-in-the-sky for their masters. . . . Mark my words, it shall be the end of our Republic, if she be turned over to God-botherers."

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From the January 5-11, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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