Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, June 23 Something called a Gordon Smith sends out a press release announcing he will have a thing or two to say about John Kerry's current "Pessimism Tour," as he calls it. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate will be talking to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the Anaheim Convention Center tomorrow, and Smith, whom the release claims is a U.S. senator from Oregon, is outraged Kerry will be talking about such seditious subjects as outsourcing, health care and Social Security, not to mention the roll back of significant "Casual Friday" gains. Not in Gordon Smith's America! Any criticism of White House policy is pessimistic—i.e., unpatriotic—and requiring an adjustment of one's nabobism—an alteration known in poli-psych parlance as the Agnew Corollary. What's there to be pessimistic about, anyway? Smith is the same guy who's told gay Republicans they can trust George W. Bush not because he's a great guy, or even likes them, but because his anti-gay agenda probably wouldn't get through the Senate. Don't worry about it, that's Gordon Smith's America. Of course, what would he have to worry about? According to a June 14 Associated Press report, Smith "is still the Pacific Northwest's wealthiest senator, according to new financial-disclosure reports: Smith and his wife reported at least $8 million in assets last year. Smith, the region's only Senate Republican, could be worth as much as $33 million." See, it's all good.

Thursday, June 24 Over the years, Arnold Schwarzenegger has battled killer robots, sweaty terrorists, fey Batmen, consonants, the California electoral process and the stain of a little something called Junior. But not until today has he crossed an opponent for which he is no match: pet owners. After announcing the state would save $14 million if animal shelters were allowed to euthanize dogs and cats within 72 hours of arrival, regardless of whether the facility was open to the public during those three days—it already puts animals down at a Soylent Green-like pace; 600,000 last year—he quickly reverses himself after a torrent of protests. "That's not me," he says, admitting his mistake, and everyone has a good laugh and says what a good guy he is for admitting he was wrong. "It shows the governor has a disarming ability to confess a mistake and reverse course," says Tom Hayden. No it doesn't. It shows the governor will throw any crazy/inhumane idea out there and see if anyone notices, or have you forgotten that virtually his first act as governor was to propose cutting funding to the developmentally disabled? Oh, people are upset about that? My mistake. How about shaking down the Indians? No problem? Cool. This dude is dangerous because no one thinks he's dangerous. He will go after anything, anyone and wait for someone to call him on it. Asthmatic nuns, you have been warned.

Friday, June 25 "We'd like to remind you that smoking is not allowed in the theater—even for medicinal purposes." So begins the 10:20 p.m., opening-night screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach. The film plays to a packed audience that spends its time laughing, cheering, shouting and crying, "Slut!" in response to Britney Spears saying she "believes" in her president, no doubt for his strong stand on the sanctity of marriage. There's also audible sobbing, not to mention momentary panic when a glass bottle breaks and most of the theater tries not to breath in. After the movie, a small woman in her 60s with long blond hair and a headband reading, "Register!" stands outside the theater passing out voter-registration forms as well as information on how to get more involved with the Democratic Party. "Can I mail this in?" asks one fresh-faced young'un, likely not even 18. "My parents say I have to leave now."

Saturday, June 26 As people start rushing to their seats to see this evening's Fahrenheit 9/11 screening at the AMC 30 at the Block at Orange, a beefy security guard yells out that anyone who leaves the theater without their ticket will not be allowed back in. "What are you, a Republican?" somebody shouts. And so it goes. Whenever something viciously anti-Bush is said, applause starts, many times followed by cheers, especially when a U.S. soldier with nerve damage and a Purple Heart tells the camera he'd been a Republican his whole life but planned to vote Democrat—so "that fool" won't get re-elected. And not everyone in the audience fits the lefty-liberal mold. A middle-aged man who looks like your typical Orange County conservative sounds as if he's being tormented with a cattle prod—or the truth—as the movie profiles the many relationships between the Bush and Bin Laden families: "Oh, no!" "My God, no!" "Aw, geez!" There are, of course, exceptions, like when one personclapped in approval of a U.S. soldier saying he hates "this fucking country" (he was talking about Iraq). Still, the biggest boo of the night was bestowed not on Bush or bin Laden, but, you guessed it, Britney. I love this fucking country.

Sunday, June 27 Fahrenheit 9/11 makes $21.6 million at the box office this weekend, making it in three days the greatest grossing documentary of all time—chew on that, Nanook of the North! This is bad news for George Bush and Britney Spears, but even worse for Disney's Michael Eisner, who refused to release the film apparently because he feared its provocative subject matter would make it too popular. So far this year, Eisner's company has a perfect record of releasing nine movies with nary a one cracking $20 million in its opening week.

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