The Judge and the Dukes
Real True Confessions with Padre Pienbique
Somewhere around the 2 am hour of January 1st, I began to ring in the New Year in earnest. When I say in earnest, I mean I didnt stop until the final play of Rams/Cowboys game eighteen hours later on Sunday night when I clicked off the tube and slept the sleep of the just. Whether or not thats related to how I felt the rest of the week is irrelevant: My poor body, besieged by stress and a few flu bugs, wasnt able to pick itself off the couch – puking doesnt count – until this very morning, Friday the 6th. Now that I feel good for the first time since I put down the beer on Sunday, Im enjoying a leftover bottle of Korbel I found while cleaning the garage.
Lest you think Im proud of this, Korbel is to champagne what White Snake is to rock-n-roll: A cheap imitation dressed up to give the consumer a feeling of enjoyment without having any of the refined qualities that define the real deal. Realizing the position Im in, Ive made a pact with myself not to play any Led Zeppelin on the iTunes while this bottle is under my personal supervision. If you think its a little cocky to uncork a bottle within forty-five minutes of finally waking up healthy, Ill state that my garage where Im writing in from is hovering around thirty-nine degrees. So if Im going to suffer for my craft, Ill do it gladly, as long as theres some hooch to slug down. Just remember: I do it for you.
Much has happened since I checked out: The Vikings have fired one coach and hired another. Gone is Mike Tice, a lovable lug that might have made better decisions if he removed the No. 2 pencil that he kept snuggly jammed into his frontal cortex. Replacing him is the preeminent cheesy mustache among head coaching candidates. Although former Vikings defensive coordinator Teddy Cotrell sports a heck of a dick broom, Minnesota has been lacking that distinct edge since Sheriff Denny Green took his personal brand of pigskin justice to Arizona.
Beyond that, new head coach Brad Childress should bring a sense of familiarity to longtime fans with an impressive string of near-misses: three losses in the NFC title game and a bust in the Super Bowl. Minnesotans can also take comfort in his inability to deal with his own pathetically superstar-ish wide receiver. No need for me to recount the sordid tale of Terrell Owens here. Maybe hell want to start his reign over the Purple by bringing Moss back – for the touchdowns; for the controversy; for the fun! (And speaking of fun, its been awhile since Ive smoked a joint and tried to run over a traffic cop downtown. Good times!)
Excuse the break, but I just took in Coach Childress first press conference. Although he didnt impress me with any crazy-talk ("Theres a new Sheriff in town!"), I cant help but be under-whelmed with the way he read his own statement. It sounded like the Evelyn-Woodpecker Speed Reading gag from my older sisters Cheech & Chong records. If you credit a three second pause for every ellipsis (), read this out loud to your mates; A very good friend of mine said: Lets go in like vikings and burn the boat s and never look back! The last time I checked, my eleven-year-old niece doesnt coach professional football, but at least she can read words on a page with less suspense than a Kevin Spacey flick.
Keep in mind, this is from an organization thats all about the positives after a lackluster season. Excuse my trepidation, but shouldnt a coach be able to read his own statement? Its not as if he hired me to write it for him. No tricky words, no inappropriate run-on sentences, not even a seven-letter word, except Vikings. (Ill assume for now, anyway – he can effectively read his own name without too much trouble.) Perhaps thats fine. I doubt hell hold any spelling bees when debating the merits of outside linebackers.
Alas, the world keeps turning, even outside of Winter Park. Next to the front page article on the Vikes new coach is the latest in Wal-Mart social fuck-ups. It seems Sam Waltons outlet for political-prisoner-produced crap nobody needs got slammed for promoting Planet of the Apes DVDs next to the Martin Luther King biographies on the website. Since Ive been too ill the last couple of days to care about anything more remote than the distance to the toilet, Ill let this one slide. However, theres nothing like watching Wal Mart make headlines on their own steam. Every time a guy like me needs a clown of a company like Wal Mart to excrete something unsuitable on the public palate, they never disappoint.
In fact, it reminds me of a Wild Bill Clinton press conference; if its being mentioned with enough prominence, you know its gold. At least Clinton has the balls to make his news rock & roll worthy: Fellow Americans, I, with great regard for the publics appreciation of fellatio, facilitated an opportunity to have an intern suck my dick. Although she is not my wife, her sacrifices made substantial progress towards fulfilling our shared manifest destiny of getting off before lunch. In the interest of American can-do ability and good, old-fashioned Yankee know-how, I made sure that she not only slurped the jizz, but tickled the Presidential Coin Purse with great patriotic pizzazz.
Okay, he didnt say that. But I know what we like in our mass-media news. We enjoy (in no particular order): Controversy, speculation, loose interpretation of facts, shoddy research, and of course, more controversy.
Within these parameters, Ive ventured into the heart of the American soul to perform a most intense process of soul-searching. Given the fact that Ive missed nearly a week of being in the loop, Im seeing a prime opportunity for a scathing crucible of a test to gauge our countrys resolve by playing a few rounds of the old Compare and Contrast game.
The rules of the game are simple: Objectively compare and contrast the raw criteria between two seemingly different sources of information. The goal in this case is to define and dissect the values between these two subjects in hopes of outlining a correlative relationship. Since the point of this exercise is to figure out what I missed, if anything, while blowing chunks over the last week, Ill examine a topic relevant to today with a comparatively static moment in history.
For the as it happens side of the equation, Ill watch an hour of CNNs coverage of Judge Sam Alitos Senate confirmation hearings. This will be compared and contrasted against a one-hour episode of the venerable TV show The Dukes of Hazzard.
On the surface, the two share a few similarities: Where The Dukes of Hazzard features an overweight and corrupt leader of the establishment that portrays the antagonist, Jefferson Davis Boss Hogg, the US Senate Judiciary Committee sports a collection of assholes instead, such as Teddy Kennedy (D-Mass) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn). Since no villain is complete without an inept crew of hatchet-men, Boss Hoggs compliant sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane is reflected in the senate by and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), leaving Mr. Fucked-Next-Election-Himself Mike Dewine (R-Ohio) with the sad role of the doom- and Daisy-struck Enos. Although the players from the Senate are on different sides of the political aisle (thus behaving as if they are enemies) their motives are similar. Namely to publicly and showily pretend if theyve subjugated their own narrow agendas to the will of the American people. Which, of course, they havent nor will they anytime soon.
The main difference between the two subjects is that The Dukes have characters commonly perceived as good guys whereas the Senate is thoroughly void of any such dualistic nonsense. True, the Senate has victims that we may sympathize with, but those victims are you and I, and I cant say just how good we are.
THE DUKES VS. THE JUDGE
Although there wasnt a specific name given to the episode of the confirmation hearings I viewed yesterday, it shouldnt be hard to come up with one. Perhaps Never Kiss and Tell could be appropriate given Judge Alitos resistance to answering anything in detail, but What Are You Going To Do About It, Fat-Ass? really reflects the utter disdain Alito exhibited for the nonsensical line of horseshit Ted Kennedy spewed onto the committee-room floor.
The Dukes, on the other hand, nicely summed up their episode in the title High Octane.
One point for the Dukes.
Dukes 1, Senate 0
In High Octane, Boss Hogg conspires with Uncle Jesse to fire up the Dukes illegal moonshine still in order to develop an alternate fuel source for entry into a government-sponsored contest that pays out $20,000.00 to the winner. (Jimmy Carter was the President then, remember
As for Do What The President Tells Me, Judge Alito squares off with politicos from both sides of the aisle essentially refusing to answer any questions given by friend or foe and choosing instead to hold us all in suspense lest we find out hes a 55-year old virgin with crazy right-wing political leanings. Adding to the drama is a series of air-ball questions from Republicans that need no answer at all (Youre a great, great man, a scholar and a brilliant attorney, arent you?) versus the several lines of prosecutorial un-questions from the Democrats (In 1985, you pretty much said youre a Nazi, didnt you?).
While the Dukes neatly brought a resolution to their particular dilemma, the Senate hearings are scheduled to go on for days, with nothing decided.
Dukes 2, Senate 0
The senate hearings come on strong in this category. Sensing opportunity to pander towards their ideological allies’ platform of no drugs, no sex, and no rock-n-roll," Republican senators focused their dialogue on freedom: freedom for a wife to be required to inform the husband of an impending abortion; freedom for a man to buy a fully-automatic machine gun and freely re-sell it to a felon across state lines; freedom for the President to wire tap private citizens, in secret, with Nixonian impunity.
The Dukes were certainly motivated to win the money as Bo & Luke had plea-bargained their tenuous freedom to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (an unseen but palpable menace in Hazzard County, known universally to its residents as "The Revenooers" and evoking a fear not seen in pop culture until Al-Qaeda appeared on the scene) with the promise they wont run moonshine any longer. But the Good Ol’ Boys real, more patriotic motives were unveiled when Luke (portrayed by washed-up-actor-turned-low-rent-country-music-entertainer inevitably coming to a county fair near you: Tom Wopat) excused breaking his probation with this simple statement: Those A-rabs have their hands around our necks, marking up that-there oil as much as they want!
Hard to call, as both sides expressed their enthusiasm with equal gusto. Add a point for each.
Dukes 3, Senate 2
CURRENT ISSUE RELEVANCE
While it would appear that the United States Senate (!) should trump this, The Dukes are again ahead of their time. Taking a decided gun-control direction, the Dukes relinquish firearms, choosing bow and dynamite taped on the tip of the arrows instead.
But its really in their Earth-First! pinko leanings that the Dukes show their true colors, as well as their foresight. In the major motion picture of The Dukes of Hazzard, Uncle Jesse is played by Willie Nelson, who is currently promoting an alternative fuel source in his home state of Texas. Drive along any major interstate in Texas and youll find huge billboards adorned with a picture of the red headed stranger and his guitar pointing down the highway, advising: 25 Miles To Willies Bio-Fuel Truck Stop! (Although moonshine whiskey isnt the main ingredient, it is made of something equally as unpalatable – soybeans.)
So the Senate unsurprisingly if disappointingly – dropped out of addressing modern-day issues in any fashion. While the Republicans wisely chose not to bring up any prospective issues that might pop up before the Supreme Court, the Democrats played along and fielded questions that were twenty years out of date. Given the chance to grill Judge Alito on ANY SUBJECT whatsoever, Senators Kennedy, Feinstein and Kohl – all Democrats, it will be noted – played the in a memo from the mid-eighties card over and over. Most of their examples came from opinions and memos written by Alito two decades ago when he was applying for a job in the Reagan administration, where he would be working under that gallant captain of the Republican Rogues Gallery: Attorney General Edwin Meese.
Paying no mind to the notion that Meeses office committed enough treasonous felonies to hang him, his wife, all his poker buddies and his dog, Democrats repeatedly brought accusations that Alito is right-wing creep. Alito calmly fired back that every example they sighted was twenty years out of date, and besides, he was applying for a job, thus conspicuously presented evidence that he would make a fine goon for Meese office. When challenged by the Dems as to how he would rule in "that-there modern-day world," Alito turned the tables and played a masterful Ginsburg Card. (A lame term lacking any sort of verve – much like the woman herself – it was coined by a lazy media during Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbergs own Senate confirmation proceedings. President Clintons third-choice nominee refused to answer several questions on the condition that the same issues could come before the Court thus it would be imprudent at best to answer without due debate amongst the other Supremes.)
Given the Democrats utter inability to extricate themselves from their own antediluvian doubletalk, and given the Dukes firm leadership for the future direction of the country: another point for the boys from Hazzard.
Dukes 4, Senate 1
Offering a continual dialogue of clarification to the Senate hearings were CNNs own Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley. Outside of stating the obvious (Alito really didnt answer any questions that nobody in particular really bothered asking), Wolf and Candy appeared to be stuck when put on the spot to analyze the aforesaid nothings. But Ill award suspense points to Team CNN for interrupting the proceedings by cutting back to the CNN Situation Room to interject their own commentary every time it looked as though Alito might faithfully answer a question.
As for the Dukes of Hazzard freezing the General Lee mid-frame while jumping over the old creek, the Balladeers commentary (voiced by real outlaw Waylon Jennings) didnt offer much information other than While Daisy was checking out the law, the law was checking out Daisy!
CNN barely gains a point by merely implying While the Senate checks out the lawyer, the lawyer checks out of answering!
The Dukes 4, Senate 2
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Every episode of The Dukes of Hazzard has a moral, and theyre usually quite clear: Down With Foreign Oil: Cruise On Moonshine! or- Gun Control Now! (Use dynamite arrows to blow up the outhouse instead). Conversely, Senate hearings are notoriously nebulous when it comes to the morality of anything.
Even if we cant possibly hope to decipher the cops from the robbers, the path of righteousness should surely be there somewhere. Buried under uncountable tons of hot air and manure, maybe, but there, right? If we lend our ears to the actual senators, the moral is is aw, fuck I dont know. When Im subjected to a ranking senator affecting to wax philosophic upon the rights of women after he drove drunk off a bridge and killed a female intern that wasnt his wife, I just bury my head in my hands. Conversely, when illiterate hillbilly white trash paves an argument for the research and development of renewable fuel (not to mention the honor of running illegal-yet-enjoyable substances), Im beginning to think the answers to all the worlds problems are cleverly hidden in sit-coms. Where does this leave me?
Nowhere, as far as addressing my original question: Did I miss anything of any importance while puking for a week? If the US Senate cant sustain a line of questioning from anytime more recent than twenty years ago, and all of our modern day dilemmas have been addressed in the pubic forum of prime time television twenty-five years ago, I believe that I can safely say that I didnt miss much. Give another point to the Dukes.
Dukes 5, Senate 2
The Old Style Zealot of the month is none other than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Although we can safely say that she has not, nor will she ever, pound an 18-pack of Old Style while watching Vikings football, she has legitimized the beer drinkers best excuse for their own indulgences via the Ginsberg Card. If youre one of those folks that skip to the end of my column to find out who is carrying the honors this month, the Ginsberg Card is a verbal defense, not unlike pleading the Fifth Amendment, where a person under the duress of questioning refuses to answer, citing the possibility that the topic may come before him or her in the future, thus negating the value of a hasty answer. Simply put: Playing the Ginsberg Card gives you a few hours to get your story straight. And if that isnt worthy of prominent recognition, then what is? I rest my case
Drive safe, be nice to your mother, and drink your milk!