Take the Last Train to Modesto

Illustration by Bob AulThe Monkees were forced to cancel their Aug. 24 show at the Sun Theatre in Anaheim due to the illness of drummer Micky Dolenz. The Monkees are a 1960s pop band that was manufactured for television—just like the controversy swirling around Congressman Gary Condit (D-Modesto). The Chandra Levy case has been cold for months, but that hasn't stopped The Edge With Paula Zahn, Hannity and Colmes, The O'Reilly Factor, Larry King Live, and weekend political-chat shows up and down the dial from devoting nearly all their precious airtime to all things Condit. The day of the Monkees' ill-fated OC appearance, TV pundits prattled on about Condit's "performance" the previous night with Connie Chung; the Democratic Party distancing itself from the congressman, who has been a drain on political contributions; Congressman Bob Barr (R-Georgia) calling on Condit to step down from the House Intelligence Committee because he threatens national security; and author Dominic Dunne's evidence-deficient theory involving Levy, Condit and the Hell's Angels, who would have provided security for the Monkees had the Monkees played at Altamonte. And paid the bikers with beer.

WHO'S THE WORM HERE? Police are investigating a report that Dennis Rodman on Aug. 26 doused patrons with a fire extinguisher at the Hooters restaurant in Newport Beach. A few days later, a judge ordered prosecutors to give records to Rodman's attorney, who claims police are singling him out—like he's Gary Condit! The same day Rodman apparently put out an imaginary fire at Hooters, Judicial Watch—the right-wing attack group that filed countless lawsuits against Bill Clinton—announced it's suing Condit. In his New Republic essay last week that surprisingly defended Condit, conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan put it all in perfect perspective when he called the congressman "William Jefferson Condit." Condit has become for George Dubya Bush what "The Evil Empire" was to Ronald Reagan, Saddam Hussein to Daddy Bush or "The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" to Bubba. Condit is diverting serious nightly media scrutiny from Dubya's bizarre political appointments, dangerous "America first" foreign policy, and whoring for a missile-defense system that doesn't work—and if it did could rain undetonated warheads on Alaska and Europe.


FORMATION Thirty lifeguards, a diving team, boats and helicopters searched in vain for a missing bodyboarder at Huntington State Beach for six hours on Aug. 29. The 23-year-old Westminster man washed ashore the next day, bringing his family some closure. Too bad that can't be said of Chandra Levy's family. While the search for her continues, the same TV pundits who criticized Clinton nightly are in a Condit feeding frenzy. Take the former prosecutor on the Aug. 28 Larry King Live who said, despite the fact that Washington, D.C., police have ruled out Condit as a suspect, "You've got a suspect. I don't care what police are saying." Nothing was mentioned on that talking-head show or others about more solid proof that Dubya stole the election or new government and Wall Street reports that indicate the economy—the strongest ever when Bush took office—may not be in the shitter yet, but it's clinging to the slippery porcelain rim. Shrub's $1.32 trillion tax cut has not only failed to turn things around, but there are now also fears that the Social Security "lock box" will have to be raided to fund routine programs and that Bush will have to abandon his campaign promise of expanded prescription-drug benefits for seniors. There was no word on TV about Dubya's work ethic: after just six months on the job, he returned to the White House from a month's vacation on Aug. 30. Two days later, he was off to Camp David for a long weekend. Probably to watch Condit coverage.

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