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(Nov. 28, 2007)

           I woke up last Sunday morning after a satisfying night of sleep apnea, rolled over sideways, and with one eye open, pressed the remote. I felt wrong, distorted. Someone had mistaken my head for taffy during the night, and left it twisted, elongated. My lips were up around my forehead, my ears under my chin. The Santa Anas breathed shallowly through an opened window, and I took a big inhalation of good, clean, fresh sulphur from the latest Malibu holocaust. My throat was about as moist as King Tut’s.
          “This,” I thought, “is the life.”
          I stared at the black window to nowhere across the room, waiting for it to give forth with the usual array of whitened teeth and ugly culture. Grinning, pretty idiots telling me about the weather, screaming at me about Jesus, manically blabbering about juice blenders and ab-rollers and E-Z Trade. Maybe I’d get lucky and CBS “Sunday Morning” would have a feature about hummingbirds. But then, it would be narrated in the usual slow half-shout, as if I am deaf and three-years-old.
          Oh, God. There was John McCain again on Stefanopoulos. Talking about how “the surge” is “working,” and other insanities. In that deliberately restrained voice he cultivated to combat the image that he privately tears weasels limb from limb, and eats them raw. Schoolboy George soberly querying as if it all is so very important. Sigh. Switch.
          Oh, God. Russert.
          Seeing these strange people creating popularly accepted reality, week after week, is oh, slightly less enervating than another Bush speech. About on-par, in terms of inspiring one to happy days, with gangsta rap and the altruism of Paris Hilton. Russert looks like a fried egg. I opened eye number two, or rather, the lid involuntarily unsealed because it’s too much work to just open one eye. And Russert was introducing a hit-parade of louses. A police line-up worthy of Dick Tracy. The cast of the re-make of  “Freaks.”
          These were “political advisors.” People who, how shall we put this, feed on the detritus and excrement of American politics, vomit it up as “strategy,” and bank small mountains of gold bullion in Swiss accounts. They “advise” candidates how to manipulate public opinion to their advantage, which this country has forgotten is fraud and con-art. They are pimps, whores, shills, hucksters, perverts---why, rather like the people who hire them. The difference being that they are not deranged enough to crave public office.

It was like that first taste of Wild Turkey to George W. Bush, a cat’s tail in a dog’s mouth, a doctor speaking the word, “benign,” a 1959 Christmas. . .

          And there they were. . . “Republican Mike Murphy” and “Democrat Bob Shrum” (what was this, boxing?) who looked like waxworks gargoyles, half-melted, or extras in bad Dickens adaptations. And then, Romulus and Remus. . .Master and Blaster. . .The Hunchback and his hump. . .James Carville and Mary Matalin. The salient question about these two really is what their sex life is like. They are sitting on millions and millions of bucks. Maybe billions. One video. One interview. In fact, they should just do it on camera once a week. The dream of reality TV fully realized. Screwing With the Stars! With your host, Larry Flynt. This week. . .Matalin does Russert! Carville takes on the Spice Girls! No condoms!
          Carville is straight out of Ray Harryhausen. He needs a couple of red bat-wings (with the neat see-through skin) and a set of razor talons. He opens his mouth, and you expect the shriek of the Hydra. This is hobgoblin, not man. When he speaks, you see someone efficiently and savagely separating raw flesh from bone, leaving the bone clean and white. The voice is ferret chatter.
          Matalin, whose name amusingly recalls the original, Biblical harlot, is, well, put it this way: hide your pit bulls. This woman feeds largely on boiled testicles, perhaps not just metaphorically. Hair highlights on her are like a tutu on a jackal. Lipstick? That’s blood. Now, not meaning to undermine the entertainment value of this piece with dull observation, I must remind that he controls Democrap candidates, and she, Repugnicans. What’s more, she was actually part of the Bush crew designated to sell lies and propaganda about Iraq, great patriot that she is. Oh, but Russert doesn’t care. Perhaps she ties him up after the show.

Gollum, Carville: Separated at birth?

                    Tim Russert

         “And welcome all,” said Russert, in that insipid urgent-journalist voice. “Happy belated Thanksgiving. We’re back here at the dinner table, so let’s carve up the politics.”
          Drool, drool. He made up a holiday metaphor! Politics? I mean, they’re talking about whether either of two crazed fascist Jesus Freaks, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (who with names like that should be running a good, dishonest carnival) can spend enough money to scare enough Living Tuna Sandwiches in Iowa into “supporting” them, fer crissakes. They’re talking about that New York ghoul who sucks the marrow out of 9/11, Rudy “The Creeper” Giuliani. They’re talking about the chances of an actor with cancer, Fred Thompson, who Richard Nixon pronounced “dumb as hell,” of leading this grate nashum. They refer to Hillary Clinton as. . .a liberal!
          I lay there, staring at this ghastly, festering puss-pit that is passed off as the real world, brought to you by Boeing global warming passenger airliners. I had the sensation of staring through a crack in time, watching an ancient, primitive civilization run by murderous half-monkeys. How is it, I wanted to shout, that you don’t see how much better everything could be? You have the technology! You’ve been given a paradise!
          The rest of TV Land was a nightmarish, garish, ADHD-friendly swamp of choirs singing about Jay-sush, some crazy blonde bitch claiming to be a minister, Latina-women displaying most of their zeppelin-sized breasts as they hawked SUV’s, an infomercial for the complete “Midnight Special” collection with clips of great and awful ‘70’s bands and singers that made them look too alive again for comfort, Chris Wallace proudly displaying his absent double-chin, Koreans shouting about Jay-sush, and yet another re-run of that lightweight shaved-headed joker, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and his fabulously profitable Muzak version of Buddhism. I don’t know, sometimes I think I see these programs when they aren’t even there. It’s all a mish-mosh of smiley evildoing. No wonder children are cynics.
           Then I hit nirvana. It walloped me.
           I mean it. It was like crawling up, seared and half-dead, from the smoking recesses of hell, and seeing roses and green fields. It was like a sixteen-year-old Afghan kid touching the ground of his homeland after two or three years in a Gitmo cage. It was like that first taste of Wild Turkey to George W. Bush, a cat’s tail in a dog’s mouth, a doctor speaking the word, “benign,” a 1959 Christmas, a Monet in a house of Thomas Kincades, a bird to the Birdman of Alcatraz, a cigar to the Frankenstein monster.
          Smoke. . .gooooooooooood.
          I sat up.
          There they were. On Channel 5. It was really, really them.   
          The Three Stooges.
          I could not believe it. Just the black-and-whiteness of it all was gorgeous, unreal. A harkening back to the days before entertainment and reality merged. Before people learned to speak and think by watching Oprah and Battlestar Galactica. Before 40-year-old teenagers took over the news. It had been so long since I had seen anything like this on commercial television, I had forgotten it was possible. Yet when I was younger, so much younger than todayyyyy, TV was black-and-white, and chocked full of old movies and good cartoons and even newsfolk who knew how to read and write and speak and. . .report news. But enough self-pity---the Stooges hit me like the return of Jay-sush.
         They were beautiful. They were poetic. They were art. Moronic, idiotic, chaotic. . .to perfection! Moe. Larry. Curly. What sculpture. There is nothing that looks that good today. Nothing as distinctive and memorable in all of show business. Only Laurel and Hardy had them beat for sheer style. There they were, being mistaken for plumbers, making all electrical outlets in a hoity-toity household (of course) spew water. I’d seen it a million times, but not for a million years. The chicanery of it all! The anarchy! The delerious disrespect. The brutish rejection of authority, of the monied elite, of pretentiousness, falseness. The opposite of the butt-licking, conformity-compelled, hyper-gimme, celebrity-sucking pursuit of acceptance and wealth that infects all aspects of modern Amerrygun culture. No phoney smiling here! No sniveling for success! No “players” scratching each other’s backs. No supplicating to Simon Cowell. These guys were one big eye-poking, cheek-slapping, woo-wooing Fuck You.
           I nearly cried.
          Yes, there they were, being transformed into “gentlemen” on a bet---it makes you giddy, just thinking about it---that goes no more awry than the occupation of Iraq. Curly gets that spring stuck on his ass, bounces around the dance floor with that giant Amazon dowager, and the boys eventually convert the upper crust to the Ways of the Stooge.
          Hail, Porcupine! Joy, thou spark of light immortal, daughter of Elysium!  (Channel 5, it turns out, had gone temporarily sane with a 60-hour “retro” weekend, chocked full of shows from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s. Whatever possessed someone at that station to come up with such a logical and good idea is beyond me. He or she will be fired soon.)          
          I switched back to Russert and Matalin and Carville---woo woo woo woo! Hey Moe! Hey Larry! These three goons should have been extras in Stooges films. They would have better served humanity that way. Tragic that the opportunity has passed! Matalin and Carville would have been the things that hide in the closet and scare the crap out of Curly, and Russert maybe the fat cop on the beat, or the warden, or the blowhard mayor. These gum-flappers, of course, are the real stooges, and Stefanopoulos, Wallace, and the rest. How badly they need the boys to slap them around, make water pour out of Russert’s headset and microphone, bake a cake that explodes in Wallace’s face, poke Stefanopoulos in the eyes when he turns on the fake grim look as he introduces the weekly body count, and the fake “isn’t that funny” smile after the clips of Leno, Letterman on “The Sunday Funnies.”
          How badly George W. Bush needs to be asked, “see that?" when Moe holds his hand out, then told to hit it and have it bash him in the head. How badly Laura Bush needs to dance with Curly, and have him accidentally pull her dress off with his foot. How badly this country needs to have its fraudulence and vainglory unmasked, mocked, and humiliated. How badly this country needs to be converted to the Ways of the Stooge.
          Paging Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard!


I thank the biological forces by which we were created for your article "Hail Porcupine!" Loved the description of the wonderful feeling we get from waking up to yet ANOTHER Santa Ana event (seems like there are more now than in the nearly 50 years I can remember.along with more and larger brush fires than ever.cough.HAARP.cough). I'll have to say, though, through your excellent writing you've absolutely hit the proverbial nail on the head regarding the reason I personally love the Stooges.

I actually became misty-eyed when I read your words! It's so obvious to me now! I began to think about all of the things that make me what I am today with regard to my personality and preferences, and Stooge humor was a cornerstone of my contempt for just about anything organized by humans. Add
to that the brilliant satire that was found between the covers of the '60s version of MAD Magazine (thank you Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Don Martin, et al.) that gave me an early sense that people and life here in the Land of the Greatest Generation That Raised Us were full of shit and perpetually hoodwinked by the moneyed elite who have actually run this country for the last 100+ years.

Carl D.

dear rip

just read your ''stooge america'' and i had to writeto tell you how much i was in stiches... thank you so much for such a brilliant piece of writing.. i had visited new york in the sixties and i had fallen in love with all things american.. it makes me soooo sad that the america i fell in love with no longer exists .. reading your piece reminded me of the days that life was so simple and uncomplicated and we all loved watching the stooges... the part where you wrote that george bush and laura need to be front of the stooges was too too funny for words.. in a world where there is not much to be cheerful about and where all the new sitcoms are an affront to any sensible intelligent person.. your article was a breath of fresh air...thanks once again..

Riffat Abbas


Thanks. Your written rant was Mike Royko esq.
If I will ..I still like yer woik though I did enjoy
remebering Royko


Bill Schanbacher

Dear Mr. Rense:

I loved your Stooges column..its refreshing to know there is someone other than myself who sees the sad and insane path America has taken.

I'm 49 but I do remember a different America as a kid...and I have to say I am perplexed as to what we actually did wrong..I know what went wrong but how did we make or allow it to happen. I suspect it has something to do with
the creeping liberalism of the 60s...and the hedonistic sex obsessed 70s..and the money crazed 80's...maybe the powers that be have just taken over TV and are using it for their own purposes..the schools have gone to pot also and so my kids attend good private schools where they basically
teach themselves from workbooks at their own pace..the problem is there seems to be no way to reverse things and people are not proposing any good solutions..its too bad..I've worked hard and am a college professor and have
a good if we but its hard to enjoy it when I see everything falling apart..I grew up in a mixed white and blue collar neighborhood where everyone knew each other and Dads neighborhood Christmas parties were was like Christmas in 1959 as you very different from my neighborhood today where no one gets together..

Your columns are really funny and so dead on Andy Rooney in tone but much funnier and much more correct...Rooney is just so dark and unfunny..

Do you think there's any hope or is America doomed to a police state? I know the economy is in for a very rough next few years...massive foreclosures for a start..

thanks again for the great and hilarious columns...

Raymond D Smith, PhD

Rip... This one is a keeper.

I really enjoyed the article, and I do the same thing--constantly look through the channels to find something to hang on to from the more innocent past. Mostly TV depresses me, so I don't watch it much anymore. But you know, you're probably right, the TV scheduler who let this get out on the air will probably be fired for allowing us to really laugh again one time.

Best regards,

S. Koval

Dear Mr. Rense:

Here in Mountain Time, I typically face the same Sunday morning television dilemma as you described, though eventually settling for the Food Network or Animal Planet usually works for me. (I strongly advise against flipping between both of these stations, though, until you have had at least three cups of coffee, in order to prevent the accidental creation of something like a "mouse mousse.") This morning, however, instead of grabbing the remote, I opted to grab the mouse (computer, not rodent -- no exotic dessert specialties for me yet today) and came across "Stooge America." I'm still personally experiencing bursts of laughter, especially as I recall your "Separated at birth?" photos which are priceless! However, I mostly find what you wrote to be particularly amusing because I, too, suffered through the same "Meet The Press" episode to which you referred in your piece.

I have three theories regarding Mary Matalin, though. My first theory questions her very existence. She frequently appears to have something stuck up her ASS, which I had assumed was Carville's arm. My second theory is that my first theory is wrong, however, since Matalin seems to be the one who possesses the skills of a ventriloquist, given that I rarely witness any substantial movement of her lips. My third theory is that my first two theories are wrong, and she simply volunteered to be a guinea pig many years ago and received astonishingly failed Botox injections, resulting in severe limitation of her ability to move her lips. (I do wonder how the poor woman manages to eat; it must be with the assistance of a PICC line.)

Although I find Murphy to be the least physically offensive of this quartet, I frequently get the urge to just SNIP that little string of whatever it is that is dangling on his head. It may or may not be hair; I simply can't tell for sure. If it is hair, then Donald Trump could teach him a thing or two about comb-overs. At least there is no doubt that Carville has no hair, though the glare produced by its absence sometimes irritates my eyes.

Shrum, on the other hand, always elicits a fantasy of sorts in my mind: I'd just LOVE to tie his arms behind his back (I'm always terrified he's going to accidentally pop someone in the mouth with those constantly flailing appendages of his), after which I would very carefully and thoroughly sandpaper his nose.

As far as Russert is concerned, well, he's RUSSERT. It's usually his guests that render his show tolerable. Usually, the only thing he induces in me is drowsiness.

I'm thinking Russert and his "political advisors" should begin to don paper bags over their heads (and arms, in Shrum's case). These could be decorated with pictures of little butterflies. I can then just plan to stay awake all Saturday night, tune in to "Meet the Press" Sunday morning and save myself a fortune on Lunesta.

This physical-appearance bashing in which I've just engaged is actually very uncharacteristic of me. I never, ever poke fun at the way someone looks. (I've discovered, from my own somewhat painful and startling encounters with mirrors, that I have no room to talk about the physical appearance of someone else.) Besides, it's much easier, far more substantive and usually funnier to go after what they say and think, and there is certainly no paucity in the current political arena of candidates who seem happy to supply that kind of fodder. However, given the insufferable, empty drone of that particular episode of "Meet the Press," there was simply no "there" there on which to comment.

Thanks very much for this Sunday morning laugh. It couldn't have come at a better time in my life!


Marlene Mann
Fort Collins, CO

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