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Prime Time Politics

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The fall line up has been disappointing. Joey is not the new Frasier, The Apprentice 2 is more of the same, and I dont recognize anyone on Saturday Night Live. Even the usually reliable Scrubs has lost its edge (I blame Heather Graham). Luckily, theres an election coming, and for people like me its the best entertainment that US TV has to offer.

As a non-citizen currently residing in the worlds foremost superpower I have the luxury of treating Decision 2004 the same way as I do The Apprentice. I have no influence over the outcome, so I just sit back, open a can of Diet Cherry Coke and wait to see what happens. Heading the cast of my new favorite show is George W. Bush, the most consummate comedian working in America today. His stand up act goes far beyond the observational humor of lesser comedians. With his inventive use of English language, Bush crosses the lexical dexterity of Don King with the deadpan delivery of a young Jerry Seinfeld.

His now classic They misunderestimated me will be fondly remembered for generations to come, and his bit about the internets has provided office jokers with quality material for the next time the office server goes down. And, like all truly great comedians Bush isnt too proud to fall back on good old-fashioned slapstick, as he demonstrated with the often imitated, never bettered choking on a pretzel routine. Vying with Bush for leading man duties is John Ketchup Kerry. He has none of the former's comedic skills, although his poorly timed arm movements suggest it would be funny to watch him dance.

However, he does excel at portraying inner conflict, I like nothing better than watching the man battle against the smugness that wants to spread all over his pilgrim-like face. Like all great method actors (Brando, De Niro, Hoffman); its all just below the surface. Hes smug because he knows people who dont find the other guy so amusing will vote for him whatever he does. He could perform bestiality live on every channel and still get all the anyone but Bush votes. Only once, in using the phrase When Im President did he betray this self-satisfaction. Like Bush he has a mysterious past. Something happened to both men during their army years, but like all old soldiers, they dont want to reveal too much. This can only be good for ratings.

While these two leading men are fascinating, the supporting cast is where the real action is, the extras, the voters. While the two leading men stand onstage and trade compliments about each other's daughters, their supporters battle it out furiously on the ground. Staunch Democrats and Republicans are at each others throats trading insults. Partisan supporters go to bitter extremes to convince the opposition how foolish they are.

Our very own Eric Webb triumphantly pinpoints liberal dishonesty, while elsewhere someone says exactly the same thing about his side, with just as much foam coming from their mouth. Both extremes are convinced they are right, and every little chink in the opposition armor is exploited for everything its worth.

But theres a bigger joke that maybe only an outsider can get. These two parties arent extremes, theyre more or less the same thing. A nation is divided, quite bitterly, over two men who are more or less the same. Both men, both white, both extraordinarily wealthy. Someone, somewhere, is laughing long and hard, and its not because theyre watching Joey.

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