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Joe Lapointe

Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV

August 31st, 2012 9:40 AM

It's wacky! It's zany! It's GOP-TV!

As might be expected, Comedy Central is best-suited to cover a television (sur)reality series like the Republican Convention, which aired this season’s final episode Thursday night.  The Republicans tried to present Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a script that could have been called “Ward Cleaver meets Dirty Harry.”

It was just more raw material for Comedy Central, which set a high bar for political satire as long ago as the 1996 campaign when Al Franken and Arianna Huffington played under the covers in “Strange Bedfellows.” (Hey, how have their careers gone since then?)
No one in this television era has a better ear for cant and doubletalk then Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report.”  Colbert Wednesday pricked a pin into the windbag Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, who said in the keynote address that Americans need to hear hard, tough, blunt truths.
Colbert obeyed..
 “You’re fat,” Colbert said.
This was unfair to Jumbo, who cannot help it if he is a big-boned land mammal sometimes seen near the Jersey Shore in bellicose arguments with his constituents.  But you can see Christie on any channel, especially in hi-def.
Smaller treats come from places like CNBC, where Larry Kudlow interviewed Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader, on Thursday.  McConnell promised Kudlow that Romney and a Republican Congress would quickly squeeze the money hose to take the “heart out of Obamacare.”
Along with this hideous metaphor and what it portends, Kudlow chose to ignore the obvious follow-up question:  “In that Republicans have never done anything for healthcare at the national level, why should reasonable people trust you guys who make things better?”
Perhaps that is too much to ask from Kudlow, who accidentally referred to the Republican Party Thursday night as “we.”  He might be auditioning for Fox News Channel, which stirred up a few farm droppings this week by dropping Sarah Palin after her Tuesday-night word salad came with Alaskan bugs flying around her empty head and no insight whatsoever.
However, Fox relented (those peasants with torches on Sixth Avenue, perhaps?) because – Lookie there! – it was Palin again on Thursday on Fox, this time with her loyal servant Sean Hannity, the only Fox host who refrains from rolling eyes when Palin buzzes their airspace.
She’s among illustrious former cast members cut from this season’s Elephant Convention show script.  They include former President George H.W. Bush, former President George W. Bush and former vice-president Dick Cheney. But one Bush raising his profile around Tampa was Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
Stewart has been promoting his show as “The Race to Jeb Bush in 2016.” Bush irked the right wing of his party last Sunday by telling David Gregory on “Meet the Press” that right-wing Republicans might want to lighten up on the gay-bashing, the misogyny, the religious radicalism and the anti-science mumbo-jumbo.
Yes, he was more polite than that, but you get the point and so did the extreme of talk radio. Mark Levin scolded the whole Bush family.  Jeb showed up on stage Thursday to rain false praise on his reign of his less intellectually gifted brother.
“He kept us safe!” Bush lied.
Since many media outlets have made this the “fact-checking” campaign, let’s review that last boast. As a matter of historical record, George W. Bush did not "keep us safe".
In the first year of his presidency, despite explicit warnings of terrorist attacks sent to Bush in the previous month, Bush watched with the rest of us when those very terrorists killed more than 3,000 people by flying high-jacked airplanes into buildings in New York and Washington.  Bush was President then; Commander-in-Chief.
Or perhaps Bush didn’t actually watch it because he was scrambling that day like a scared rabbit on Air Force One, hopping from hideout to hideout.  When he eventually appeared on television many hours later, he looked shaken, not at all like New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose poise and presence of mind were most impressive. 
Bush used that attack as an excuse to start a horrid war in Iraq that left more than 4,000 Americans dead, thousands more Iraquis dead and Iran with more power and influence than ever in the region.  Domestically, Bush failed to respond quickly or efficiently to Hurricane Katrina.  Hundreds died.  Bush did not keep them safe.
As for financial safety, his administration began with the collapse of Enron, run by Bush’s corporate cronies.  It ended with the meltdown of the financial system and the most devastating recession in three-quarters of a century.  Perhaps Jeb should have talked about his Dad instead of his brother.
The better part of Thursday’s show, that magic bit of instant history, was Clint Eastwood’s brilliant acting in the supporting role of “Crazy Old Uncle in the Attic,”  the sort of skit you might have seen on one of those old celebrity roast shows with Milton Berle.
Eastwood’s unintentional absurdity triggered the wit of Al Sharpton on MSNBC, who said it was probably not the first time Eastwood had talked to a chair.  Later, Sharpton added that Eastwood’s act was the kind that would get hooted off stage at the Apollo Theater’s amateur shows.
So it was nice to end the whole shebang on such a goofy note that gave all sides a giggle.  If Sharpton keeps polishing his quick wit, he’ll earn a promotion to Comedy Central, where many a truth is spoken in jest.

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