Who Wants to Be a Figurehead!?

The new postwar TV show

Well, it's all over but the ululating, folks. Time to paste a big Happy Face over Iraq on the map and move on, and not a minute too soon for those of us who are sick of typing the words Iraq and Iraqi all day long. When President George W. Bush listed the international laws Iraq was violating, he never even mentioned the one about u always coming after q, such as in the word quisling.

Which reminds me: before we move on to the next underdefended chunk of geography that dares look at us sideways—You'd better watch your ass, Catalina!—we still have one or two favors left to bestow on the newly liberated, looted and lacerated Iraqui people. (There, that makes them look more like Iroquois. Open a casino, boys!)

They'll need a new flag, of course. Maybe something emblazoned with an eagle with a missile exploding in its gut, bearing the motto "Freedom is Untidy"—that would do the trick. If you missed it, that was Donald Rumsfeld's remark when asked about the utter chaos, unchecked looting, hospital and museum gutting, and infarcted infrastructure that followed our liberation of Baghdad. Remember that phrase after the Bush administration has dismantled every beneficial branch of our government except those that infringe your rights, undone every environmental and consumer protection, shipped your job overseas, and handed the keys over to their corporate overlords: freedom is untidy.

But back to that plucky desert nation getting its first quaff of freedom: they need a president to call their own. They live near an entire country called Chad, so they don't need anything as untidy as our last election. Their phones don't work, so they can't call Pick-a-Pawn, Dial-a-Stooge or Puppet Hut.

Well, hey, mosque-makers, that means it must be time to play Who Wants to Be a Figurehead!

"Will our first contestant please come on down? Hello, sir, and what's your name?"

"Yanni," says the romantic figure in chiffon robes the color of night-vision lenses.

"Can you tell us your qualifications?"

"Well, Iraq is in a shambles. . . ."

"Would you mind spelling that with a u?"

"Not at all. Iraqu is in a shambles, and as you must know, I've played at the Acropolis, which has been a big damn mess for I don't know how long. If I can bring a sense of peace and harmony to that damaged infrastructure, I believe I can do the same for Iraqu. After the bombs, balm—that's what I say."

"And how many barrels of oil a day do you think you can pump out of the place?"

"I don't know. I need a lot of it for my hair."

"Next contestant, please! Welcome, and, well, excuse me, sir, but aren't you Saddam Hussein?"

"Who wants to know? Ha! I amuse myself. No, actually, I was one of his three top body doubles. Perhaps you noticed my work. I, for one, never enjoyed the harshness of his regime and did what I could to soften it. Can you roll the video here? Thanks. Now here you can see I'm wearing a cashmere beret in a lighter, more carefree shade of black. And see the little wave I give to the kids who are about to be executed? And the playful wink I give them? Those are some of my trademarks I was able to inject into what I must tell you was a very confining role."

"And why, sir, do you think you're the best person to lead a revitalized Iraqu?"

"I poll very high on name recognition. I have all the advantages of a proven brand, but you can load me with any agenda you want."

"How do we know you won't fly off the handle like your namesake?"

"Let me show you. Shove a hand up my ass. Now wiggle your fingers. See my ears wiggle?"

"Wow, that's remarkable!"

"Just a little something I learned at the Actor's Studio. An actor should fit his part like a glove."

"Hey, I can't get my hand out!"

"Well, I guess I'm your man then, aren't I? Do you mind if I ask the Haliburton workers you're sending to Iraqu to refer to themselves as 'cast members'? I think it makes for a cheerier workplace."

* * *

And now, a word from our sponsors. Sorry, we have no sponsors. We're boycotting them all.

Do you wake up at night in a clammy sweat, thinking, "Golly, how can I make a difference? The White House ignores my views. The Democrats are just diet Republicans. No one is even talking about the real war we just fought, the one where our bombs and missiles turned probably tens of thousands of conscripts, a.k.a. hapless slaves, into sandy jelly, and the government and media's calling that 'victory.' May I say 'Aaaargh'!?"

I recall a time in the Vietnam War when someone asked one of the North Vietnamese leaders how he thought student protesters in America might make a difference. He suggested we emulate the Vietnamese Buddhist monks who had immolated themselves. While a writhing human torch certainly was an eye-catching form of protest, not too many Americans took him up in that. So how does one make a difference?

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