Years ago, I pitched a cover story about local conservative talk-show host Wally George. I'd held a sick fascination with Wally ever since I was a kid, and I really looked forward to mauling him in print. I was convinced that the piece would write itself.
It didn't work out that way. Wally refused to talk to me, so all I had to go on were the nightly airings of his show. Wally's fun once, maybe twice a month, but believe me, once you start watching regularly, the joke gets old fast. The nasty, hate-spewing Wally of old was one thing; the Wally who was on now was a quavering old guy whose heart didn't seem to be in his rants. He'd come on, make a brief introduction, and then show a bunch of 10-year-old clips. When even the intros became repeats, I started to wonder if Wally was still alive.
Finally, I got my big break. Wally was going to do an appearance at a local titty bar. (If the idea of a conservative pundit doing an appearance at a titty bar shocks you, you don't know Wally.) I'd show up at the bar and ambush him with a bunch of provocative questions!
It turned out to be one of the most depressing scenes I've ever witnessed. The place was about the size of your living room, and there were maybe eight guys in the audience, none of whom were there to see Wally. Wally's handlers led him in, and my heart sank into my socks. Wally looked 100 years old. His skin was spoiled-milk gray, and he was wearing a wig. I could barely hear the club's thumping music over the sound of Wally knocking at death's door. He was signing autographs with this sweet ol' grandpa smile, and I just knew it was all over. There was no way I could kick a guy when he was this down. I got my picture taken with him (I wish I could tell you where it's gone) and fled into the night. I never touched the story again.
That was two, maybe three years ago. I didn't think Wally would have survived the week, but he's still going. A few months ago, he even sent the Weekly a press release announcing his presidential candidacy.
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They say the good die young. Wally will outlive us all.