Diary of a Mad County

Jan. 3-Jan. 9

Wednesday, Jan. 3
Gerald Ford
is laid to rest near his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Time and again this past week, Ford has been hailed as a decent man who got us through one of the roughest times in our nation's history and who also had the courage to do the politically unpopular thing by pardoning Richard Nixon. The subtext here is that we still really don't like Richard Nixon. Remember all that business about Nixon's resuscitation by the time of his death in 1994? Yeah, well there's been a good deal of resuscitatus interruptus going on the past few days. Virtually every Ford eulogist has framed Ford's decent humanity against the backdrop of Nixon's petty crappiness. Vice President Dick Cheney says Ford "led our republic safely through a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe." Nixon's "friend" Henry Kissinger wrote on MSNBC's website that Nixon's machinations had left Ford with the "most perilous moment of domestic crisis since the Civil War," and that Ford "never showed stress, he never lost his temper, he never showed anxiety." Hmmm, what hotheaded, stress-addled anxiety monkey could Kissinger have been comparing him to? Could it have been Richard Nixon—who, it's being reported today, was so incensed at career diplomats that he once told Kissinger he was determined that "his one legacy is to ruin the Foreign Service. I mean ruin it"? Even Tom Brokaw, who owes several summer homes to kissing geriatric ass, says Ford had "no demons, no hidden agenda, no hit listor acts of vengeance." Still, people may be going a bit off with this St. Jerry business. Yeah, Ford looks good when placed next to Nixon, but so did Al Haig. Yes, Ford seemed a decent fellow, one who would have been embarrassed by all the fuss being made about him. Some have taken it upon themselves to re-educate people about the man who pardoned Nixon. Right now, I'm looking at one such website. It links to a Bob Woodward story in the Washington Post that shows how loyal Ford was to Nixon, quoting Ford telling Nixon in 1973, in the midst of Watergate, "Anytime you want me to do anything, under any circumstances, you give me a call, Mr. President." The same story also dismantles this notion that Ford never spoke ill of anyone. In 1971, Woodward reports, Nixon called Ford to find out what was going on with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs(D-La.), who had accused FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover of wiretappingmembers of Congress. "He's nuts," Ford is reported to have told Nixon. When Nixon replied that Boggs was "on the sauce," St. Jerry answered, "I'm afraid that's right, Mr. President." Another website reports that Ford later said Boggs was either "drinking too much or he's taking some pills." Like I said, you can find this stuff on websites that have something to gain by bringing Ford down a peg. I found this story on the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace website.

Thursday, Jan. 4
Fox announces it is canceling one-time phenomenon The O.C. Now in its fourth season, the show has lost more than half of the 10 million viewerswho watched it regularly in its first season; those 5 million viewers reportedly gave up The O.C. along with Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. The declining numbers have been chalked up to weak story lines, gimmicky plot twists and Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, which have been blamed for rising global temperatures. The O.C. helped fuel national interest in Orange County and its removal leaves our area represented on TV only by Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County; The Real Housewives of Orange Countyand Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Friday, Jan. 5
Nothing.

Saturday, Jan. 6
Ditto.

Sunday, Jan. 7
Local Internet mailboxes continue to blaze with news that the Orange County Humane Society is closing down its Huntington Beach shelter next week and will begin euthanizing all of the animals that aren't yet adopted. The story is shocking and sad and represents everything that is wrong with the world. And it's completely untrue. At least that's what Samir Botros says. But then again, what does he know? He's just head of the OC Humane Society. He says the shelter is not closing down, that it is just being remodeled, and that no animals are going to be euthanized. I tell him that maybe we should euthanize some Internet users, and he says, you know, nothing. Personally, I must have received 20 e-mails about this from frantic animal lovers begging people to adopt a dog or cat. It just goes to prove that truism of journalism that if you want to get publicreaction, write about animals. (Or Lindsay Lohan's crotch.) Now, a lot of people got caught up in this sham, so let me offer you some tips on clues that a story you find on the Internet might not be true. No. 1, it's on the Internet. That's about it.

Monday, Jan. 8
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces its new inductees include Van Halen, which causes countless newspaper editors to write the headline "Van Halen 'Jumps' Into Hall." It just goes to prove that truism of journalism that there are a lot of hacks in journalism.

Tuesday, Jan. 9
Former major leaguer Mark McGwiremisses election to the Baseball Hall of Fameby nearly 300 votes, raising questions as to whether he or any other slugger who has played during the present steroid-tinged era—Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds—will get into the Hall. Once considered a lock, McGwire's induction became suspect when he all but admitted in front of a congressional committee that he had used performance-enhancing substances. It's sad because McGwire, who now lives in Irvine, was great without the stuff—he set a rookie record for homers when he hit 49 as a very skinny first baseman with Oakland. McGwire placed ninth in today's voting, but don't feel sorry for him. If you want to feel sorry for someone, look at Bert Blyleven, who finished sixth. Blyleven, a pitcher whose 22-year career included a four-year stint with the Angels, had the misfortune of pitching for some horrible teams: Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins—so he never reached 300 wins. Yet, if you look at his personal stats you'll see that his 3.31 earned run average is lower than Hall of Famers Robin Roberts, Ferguson Jenkins and Phil Niekro. Blyleven's 287 wins is more than Jenkins and Roberts and his 3,701 strikeouts is more than Don Sutton, Tom Seaver and Gaylord Perry. What I'm trying to say is should we really feel so bad for Mark McGwire when a man was forced to go through life with the name Gaylord?

SLOWERY@OCWEEKLY.COM

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