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SODIUM PENTATHOL ROUNDTABLE
By David Podvin
Welcome to Sodium Pentathol Roundtable, the revolutionary new show in which superstars of mainstream journalism are injected with truth serum and then involuntarily thrust onto national television.
Howard Fineman (“Why, you certainly are looking lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver. And doing a praiseworthy job of raising Wally and young Theodore, if I may be so bold.”): Contrary to what people might have concluded from reading my nauseatingly fawning tributes to Bush in Newsweek, I fully realize that he is an unprincipled fraud who is mentally overwhelmed by the process of aligning the arrows on a childproof cap.
Chris Matthews (screaming hysterically for no apparent reason): I was a legislative aide when Congress passed the childproof cap law, so I can tell you from personal experience that saving the lives of countless innocent children is considerably less lucrative than smearing Democratic presidential candidates. And infinitely less gratifying.
Fineman (“You are quite the masculine role model, Mr. Cleaver! Would you be offended if Thorny and I choose to pattern our lives after yours, sir?”): Look, I have to put my kids through college, which will be easier to do if the Washington Post Company doesn’t fire me for failing to glorify the guy who gives them all of those profitable government contracts. So, whenever I am writing about Bush, I just pretend that he is Winston Churchill. It really isn’t that hard to do…as long as my supply of crack cocaine holds out.
Peggy Noonan (caressing ten small objects that - most disturbingly - appear to be Ronald Reagan’s toes): Not to brag, but I don’t need to use narcotics in order to be completely out of touch with reality.
Ceci Connelly (repeatedly blinking “I hate Tipper” in Morse code): Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet. I made it up because I wanted to be promoted at the Post, and sleeping with our publisher Donald Graham didn’t work – it just turned him gay.
Tim Russert (the round, pale face that so relentlessly pitches the company line – you know you’ve seen that face a million times before. But where? Suddenly, it hits you: “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven!”): That’s a shame, Ceci. Sleeping with Jack Welch worked wonders for my career.
Brian Williams (so dumb that he has to get naked in order to count to twenty-one): Ditto.
George Stephanopoulis (seeking to ingratiate himself to war-mongering conservatives, Mr. Stephanopoulis now chooses to speak exclusively in Klingon): I got thrown out of Greek Orthodox Sunday School for identifying too closely with Judas Iscariot.
Geraldo Rivera (waving his gun with one hand while frantically diagramming absolutely nothing of significance with the other): If I really ever saw Osama, rather than shooting him with my gun as I promised, I would just wet my pants.
George Will (proudly sporting a bow tie that he made from the pages of stolen Carter briefing books): I do not know the meaning of most of the polysyllabic words that I utilize, and that includes the words “polysyllabic” and “utilize”.
William F. Buckley, Jr (widely viewed as the “Towering Intellect of Modern Conservative Thought”, a.k.a. “The Tallest Pygmy”): I used the term “didactic” for three decades before I found out that it didn’t refer to a flying dinosaur.
Will (proudly wearing the lovely cuff links that were given to him by his wife immediately after he condemned our last elected president for “trashing the institution of marriage” – that would be Will’s new, pretty wife…not his old, discarded wife): Bill Clinton is smarter than I am, and he is more honorable, and he is more charismatic, and he is better looking. That is why I say all those hateful things about Clinton on television…jealousy. Well, jealousy and the millions of dollars that Michael Eisner pays me to say all those hateful things about Clinton.
Bill O’Reilly (You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of stupor and deceit but of tedium. That's a signpost up ahead: if it is misspelled and scrawled in crayon, then your next stop must be: The No Spin Zone!) : There is only one American who is not un-American, and that American is yours truly.
Rivera (waving his gun, which under the hot studio lights is now melting into a gigantic puddle of chocolate): Hey, somebody forgot to give O’Liar his truth serum!
Ann Coulter (not exactly the kind of girl you want to bring home to meet your mother – unless, of course, your mother is a homicidal maniac): Every word I say, I mean from the bottom of my heart, to the extent that I have a heart...
Rush Limbaugh (hero to untold millions, each of whom has apparently learned how to turn on a radio while bound in a straightjacket): Honey, you are crazier than a shithouse rat! I also say every word that you say, but I say it for the cash. I’m greedy, not crazy.
Brit Hume (although he is too self-effacing to brag about it, Mr. Hume’s contributions to electronic journalism parallel Mr. T’s contributions to Shakespearean theatre): I really don’t perceive any inherent conflict there, El Rushbo. I’m greedy and crazy.
Coulter (holding aloft a copy of her dynamic new number one best seller, The Big Easy In The Big Easy: My Years In New Orleans): You didn’t let me finish. I mean what I say, but I usually don’t say what I mean. And what I mean is that lying is good. Lying works. If lying is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. So I might be crazy, but at least I am not honest.
Williams (in retrospect, it turns out that cloning Jethro Bodine was not such a good idea): Ditto.
Laura Schlessinger (four out of five dentists surveyed recommend listening to Dr. Laura for their patients who aspire to be self-righteous bigots): I leave my mom lying dead in her apartment for three months, and you people claim to be the crazy ones? If anyone here is crazy, it’s me.
William Safire (his deadpan political analysis has elevated him to the status of “comic genius” in France): You think you’re crazy? I still believe that Nixon was framed!
Tony Snow (continues to be irrationally terrified by fire, but is much more attractive since he had the bolts cosmetically removed from his neck): Let’s resolve who is the craziest once and for all: I still believe that Bush got the most votes in Florida. Anyone care to try to top that?
Thomas Friedman (fondling a small statue of a very black Maltese Falcon): Now, sir, I’ll tell you right out; I’m a crazy man who likes to have a crazy talk with a crazy man who likes to talk crazy.
Bob Woodward (fondling a small statue of a very white George W. Bush): I am not crazy. Having to meet whistleblowers in dark parking garages used to scare the hell out of me. It is dangerous to tick off a Republican president. I’ve matured – I will never, ever do that again.
Bob Schieffer (when Gertrude Stein said, “There is no there there,” it is possible that she was talking about Oakland, but she was staring directly at Schieffer): I have never once said anything that could possibly make anyone angry. I am the journalistic equivalent of a Pet Rock; being innocuous to the point of utter irrelevance is the surest ticket to job security.
Larry King (suit: charcoal gray; suspenders: fire engine red; nose: barnyard brown): “Innocuous” might keep you employed, but “obsequious” makes you wealthy.
Diane Sawyer (hurriedly smearing vast gobs of Vaseline on the camera lens as it turns towards her): I keep my job by asking the tough questions like, “You horrid Dixie Chicks! Did you really say that you are ashamed of President Bush? Ashamed!” Then I go home to my husband Mike Nichols and we just laugh and laugh because I get paid really big bucks for being a complete idiot.
Barbara Walters (gently swaying like a weeping willow, which is the kind of tree she would be, if she were a tree): I used to laugh in exactly the same way with Alan Greenspan, until Andrea Mitchell stole him from me.
Andrea Mitchell (live remote from the closet in Karl Rove’s office): Barbara, you are so freaking lucky that I am under the influence of truth serum, or the whole world would soon learn that you and your wife Hillary vandalized the White House and Air Force One.
Paul Gigot (speaking into a hand held camera while rioting in Miami Dade – not in a Bad Impoverished Negro way, mind you, but in a Good Bourgeois Caucasian way): Working for the Wall Street Journal provides no challenge from the standpoint of job security. The only way to get fired by Dow Jones and Company is to tell the truth.
Rupert Murdoch (putting another shrimp on the barbie while goose-stepping to the strains of The Ring of the Nibelungs that eternally echo in his head): At News Corporation, torturing reality has always been an art form, as one of our sodium pentathol-free Pinnochios will now demonstrate…
Neil Cavuto (shown on the monitor trying in vain to give a wedgie to the fallen statue of Saddam Hussein): I am standing in downtown Baghdad, where I can report that the people of Iraq have welcomed the U.S. military with open arms and are expressing their intense love for President Bush.
Murdoch (laughing maniacally, as though he were a Texas governor approving a lethal injection): I love it! Cavuto is actually on a sound stage in Burbank. The people of Iraq hate the American military, which just killed their relatives and leveled their country. And if they could, those ragheads would disembowel Bush. But reality is not what our ever-growing audience of mouth-breathing knuckle draggers wants to hear from us…so they never will.
Jeff Greenfield (who skyrocketed to journalistic prominence as the model for Where’s Waldo?): At CNN, we just naturally assume that the audience wants to be bombarded with shallow coverage and frequent lies; if not, they would be watching the BBC.
Ted Turner (sitting majestically astride a beefalo, the very same beefalo that telepathically convinced him to abandon his news operation to the reprobates at Time Warner): Greenfield, your vile presence at CNN makes me ashamed to be the greedy turd who sold out in exchange for cash I will never even have the time to spend. Murdoch, your style of gutter journalism guaranteed that Fox News would always be a contemptible mendacity machine, but now your corrosive influence has turned Cable News Network into some sort of hideous clone. Congratulations, scumbag - you have killed my brainchild.
Murdoch (howling with unrestrained delight, like a draft-dodging former termite exterminator after slashing medical benefits for crippled war heroes): The dingo ate your baby!
Ted Koppel (no, that’s not Howdy Doody, smart ass – that’s Ted Koppel!):): Dingo? Isn’t that one of Clinton’s nicknames? Clinton ate Turner’s baby? Next, on Nightline – A Five Part Series: The Clinton Years: Just One Continuous Donner Party!
Jon Stewart (if this sorry assemblage were The Munsters, Stewart would be “ Marilyn”): Good one, Teddy. You are kidding, right?
Russert (with extreme moral indignation, as though he were being involuntarily subjected to eight years of unprecedented peace and prosperity): What are you doing here, Stewart? On your goddamn show, you deliberately make a mockery of mainstream journalism!
Stewart: And that distinguishes me from everyone else who is here in exactly what way?
Dan Rather (“If George W. Bush said to me, ‘Rather, I want you to get a sex change operation,’ I would salute, say, ‘Yes, sir, Mr. President,’ and promptly start making plans to date Richard Mellon Scaife.”): At Viacom, we are expected to give the appearance of telling the truth while actually promoting Mel Karmazin’s rapacious corporate agenda.
Lisa Myers (sitting sympathetically beside three 600 pound Sumo wrestlers who tearfully claim that they were raped by Bill Clinton when he was mayor of Yokohama): Giving the appearance of telling the truth? How avante garde! At NBC, we are still working on giving the appearance of being coherent.
Who is Tom Brokaw? (Diction From Hell for $400, Alex - This unholy spawn is the result of an illicit assignation between Elmer Fudd and Baba Wawa): And when it comes to appearing coherent, Lisa, those of us at General Electric’s Propaganda And Bullshit Division are failing miserably. This haunts me every Friday night when I gather the mammon that I have “earned” for reporting absolute nonsense, make a pile of thousand dollar bills on the floor of my expensive Manhattan townhouse, and then wallow in it like swine reveling in their own filth.
Peter Jennings (little known fact: Jennings is so annoyingly smug that he was once bludgeoned into unconsciousness by Mohandas Gandhi): On the first and fifteenth of every month, I rub my paycheck on Ari Fleischer’s bald head for good luck while he tells me what I am going to be allowed to report over the next fortnight.
Buckley (retains precious memories of his confidant, J. Edgar Hoover; to this day, the sentimental Buckley cannot see a burly man clad in a pink teddy without bursting into tears): There is another example of tricky words – for the longest time, I thought that “fortnight” referred to a really, really dark fort.
Katharine Seelye (relaxed and at ease, because no one in the room is wearing a necklace made of garlic cloves): Al Gore did not really lie about discovering Love Canal, as I reported.
Richard Berke (calm and collected, because there is nary a wooden stake in sight): And he didn’t lie about being the model for Oliver in Love Story, as I reported.
Connelly (insouciant and carefree, because the moon is full and the sun will not rise for several more hours): In fact, he didn’t lie at all.
Seelye and Berke and Connelly (turning in unison to face the camera and baring their bloody fangs):
Please join us for the next edition of Sodium Pentathol Roundtable, when our guests will be the White House Press Corps, excluding party pooper Helen Thomas, whom we have learned from bitter experience says exactly the same things whether she has been injected with truth serum or not. Some “journalist”, huh?
Podvin, the Series