Hope Springs Infernal

100th birthday wishes for Bob Hope

Illustration by Bob AulSo Bob Hope lived to be 100, and that's wrong.

Bob Hope is everything that was wrong with America in the 20th century—lucky, opportunistic, selfish, two-faced, sophomoric, shortsighted, undeservedly rich, intolerably smug.

Bob Hope is everything that's wrong with the 21st century, too. He's still here, isn't he?

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with naming a boy "Leslie."

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with our immigration laws, threatening whether any nation can long endure the admittance of foppy little British kids who tap-dance for tuppence.

Bob Hope is everything that was wrong with Bing Crosby. And that dude was fucked up.

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with USO tours. For 60 years Hope cast himself as a hero for staging shticky shows for our boys overseas. He was really just the cruelest of opportunists–party to a propaganda deal with the government. Hope's USO and Christmas specials in Vietnam in the 1960s were underwritten by tax dollars. The government saw the value in convincing America that the teenagers it had drafted and sent into the jungle were having a good time. Hope just saw value–he got free publicity and kept the huge profits. And the servicemen? Would you want to spend your last day on Earth listening to Bob Hope mechanically recite rim-shot one-liners?

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with honorary doctorates. He received 54 of them.

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with golf, and not because he played the world's most evil game with a bunch of presidents. One of Hope's best golf buddies was the late Prescott Bush–father of George, grandfather of George W.–who earned the Bush family fortune by supplying financial aid and raw materials to Hitler's Third Reich.

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with television specials. He had his 296th NBC Bob Hope Special in 1996, and it only feltlike 297.

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with Dolores Hope. Despite their nearly 70 years of marriage, the guy was famous for his dalliances with hundreds of chorus girls. "Dolores," of course, means "sorrowful."

Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with me–because back in 1987, at his home in Toluca Lake, where I was invited to cover an open casting call for a Fawn Hall look-alike for a Bob Hope special making light of the fact that the Reagan administration illegally sold weapons to Iranian terrorists and that Oliver North's secretary shredded documents trying to cover it up, I blew my best shot to rearrange Hope's ski-slope nose into a snowboard halfpipe.

Bob Hope is only 33 1/3 percent of what is wrong with the postcard they sell at the Nixon Library, showing him with Richard Nixon and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But Bob Hope is everything that is wrong with human life–because there is something totally wrong about Bob Hope living to be 100.

 
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