Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but daytime TV talk shows have become a vast, fetid, sump-sucking wasteland, populated by a parade of circus geeks and sideshow oddities that would have given even Federico Fellini a case of grade-A, toss-in-your-sleep, ate-a-garlic-cheese-and-sushi-calzone-right-before-bedtimenightmares. And that's just the hosts.
With everything that's on daytime television today, one thought continues to haunt me: How in the hell did Richard Bey get canceled?
Lest anyone think I'm biting the hand that feeds me, let me clarify: When I speak of talk shows, I mean the anti-Darwinian, Lord of the Flies cluster-fucks that pass for daytime programming. The shows where the basic rules of human discourse are paid about as much attention as Linda Hunt on the set of "Baywatch."
Now, I'm not saying they all suck like airplane toilets, but you could safely conclude that the good ones can be counted on the one hand of a bad wood shop teacher.
It's not hard to figure out why these shows are popular. They answer the burning question: "What do the people we see being arrested on 'Cops' do during the day?"
Why have these daytime chatfests flourished? Well, the answer is that all the smart people are working when this shit is on. The submorons who watch this dreck are the people nobody wants to hire.
That's the only way I can explain the sheer number of gene pool skimmings that make it on the air. I swear, you can still see the jelly on their foreheads where the electroshock terminals were attached. And what I find so scary is that some of these shows have been on for years but they still manageto find this Fantasia broom army of social misfits to appear on them. They all look like they've just stepped out of a William Faulkner rough draft, mouth-breathing freaks who make Jethro Bodine look like David Niven.
But these shows do provide a service. They weave together some of the shabbier threads in the fabric of our society and give them a voice . . . even if that voice is frequently only heard in their own heads. Hey, how many times have I seen chunky tattooed women slap-fighting in the Laundromat parking lot and wished I knew the back story?
And the Yoda of Daytime, the Professor Emeritus of emotional chum, is one Jerry Springer, Esquire. Now, here's a man who has become a household name . . . make that a trailer-hold name, by offering daily spectacles that make Brazilian snuff films seem uplifting by comparison.
Each day Springer ladles through the primordial ooze like some psychotic cafeteria lady and dishes up the mystery meat of the human condition.
My favorite part of the Jerry Springer show is Jerry's "Final Thought." Yeah, like all of a sudden Jerry is going to add some perspective and sanity to tie it all together. I got news for you. Jerry has only one final thought. And you know what that is? "Are the Siamese-Twin Hasidic Skinheads confirmed for tomorrow?"
We are the rubberneckers and Springer and his ilk orchestrate the train wrecks we all slow down to ogle. And the freak stakes have to be jacked up higher with each passing day because, let's face it, folks, we are less shockable than David Lynch in a pair of platform galoshes.
Well, that just about wraps this rant up, but here's my final thought. What kind of world would it be if we weren't all inexorably drawn to watching trashy chicks scream at each other right before they get a makeover that looks like it was done by a guy who paints murals on the sides of vans, only to find out that no amount of makeover will be enough to assuage their pain at losing their man to another ho's hoochie?
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
The Social Responsibility of The President As originally aired on 1/30/98
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but our current Commander in Chief seems to have yet again raised the bar for questionable behavior. As a matter of fact, Hillary Clinton hears the words "I'm sorry" more frequently than Pauly Shore on "Celebrity Jeopardy."
You know, I feel a bit of sympathy for Hillary. But she's obviously known about this kind of stuff for years and made some peace with it. And I even feel a little sorry for Clinton himself because truth be told, none of our lives would stand up to this high-powered X-ray scrutiny. But the fact is, he chose the fishbowl, undoubtedly so he could grope the plastic mermaid seated on the little treasure chest.
Clinton's recent scandal is reminiscent of Nixon's Watergate, if for no other reason than each President's main mistake was the firing of Cox. You see, until the other "tricky dick" was asked to leave the table, no President had ever quit and we weren't sure our system could survive it. Well, now we know it can.
But it's not as if getting caught really matters, does it? Clinton's most recent approval rating is 73 percent. Can you grasp that figure, 73 percent?
You cannot get 73 out of 100 people to agree on whether or not they like themselves. Now these figures, of course, could spiral downward if more women step forward or obstruction of justice is proven or, even more importantly, if the stock market suddenly does a Lewinsky.
But the President's amazing approval rating would seem to indicate that we are now prepared to accept the sexual foibles of those who seek public office. Why not go all the way? Instead of names on the ballots, why don't we just make our decisions based on Polaroids of all the candidates' genitalia? It wouldn't be that different, really. Some are to the left, some to the right. Some represent bigger government and some, unfortunately, smaller government.
You know, maybe the reason we're more forgiving nowadays is because it's finally sunk in these are just guys.
Guys who at some point are presumptuous enough to lift their head off the pillow in outback towns like Little Rock, Arkansas, lean over, and tell their wife that they've decided it's their turn to become the most powerful man in the world. And the only difference between you and them is that their wife doesn't say, "Ah shut up, you asshole. How's about gettin' the day shift at Meineke first, okay?"
But even if we all are in a more forgiving mood, I think we have to draw the line at this guy and his handlers steamrolling this young girl now just because she let Air Force One buzz her tower. Okay? For Christ's sake, she was twenty-one years old. In all honesty, a twenty-one-year-old should want to blow the President, okay? This kid's life should not be ruined now, just because the President views the White House intern population in the same way he views the chicken-fried steak steam table at a Luby's Cafeteria. But unfortunately, Clinton and his wingtipped thugs have to win, and that means Monica Lewinsky will join the others who have been immolated on the pyre of Bill Clinton's ambition.
Stoking the flames will be presidential arsonist James Carville, a snake oil salesman who actually looks like a snake. Is it just me or is this guy harder to watch than sausage being made? Huh? Carville's got more nervous tics than a Belfast parking valet.
Hey, let's bottom-line this. As far as Clinton's concerned, it all comes back to getting a little tail. Bill Clinton wanted to become President for the same exact reason guys used to drive Day-Glo orange IROC Z-28s in the seventies.
And Bill Clinton will be able to get out of this. You mark my words. He always does. This guy has hung off more cliffs than an Austrian with an inner ear infection. He is the modern-day Prometheus, picked apart by the media vultures each day only to become whole again to weather yet another scandal.
Maybe we root for him because he is our Rocky, taking punch after punch after punch, round after round, and always calling out for his Adrian. The only difference is, you know this as well as I do, Clinton is also trying to nail all the ring girls.
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
Work obsessed People
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but we seem to be working a little too hard lately here in the Good Old U.S. of Type A.
To many work-obsessed Glengarrys these days, nine to five is considered part-time.
People can't even relax on vacation anymore. They flop around like Ned Beatty's man-tits on a trampoline. That image might send me back to therapy. You know, most workaholics have the attention span of Farrah Fawcett at a Wagner opera, or, for that matter, the Letterman show.
A lot of this is due to the fact that the two-career couple is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. An average American family just can't survive on one salary anymore. Not if you want to have the essentials—basic cable, premium cable, a DirectTV satellite dish, and, oh yeah, food. Like Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat . . . San Francisco . . . cable cars . . . cable! May the circle be unbroken . . .
But somewhere along the line Americans decided that work could actually be fun. I believe psychologists describe this as the condition in which the person being held hostage actually falls in love with the person who's kidnapped them.
For Americans, work is what the pub is to the British, the vodka cellar is to the Russians, and what any place but the shower is to the French.
Every company has at least one Type A jag-off, the freak with the coffee mug that says TGIM on it. Power-suited desk jockeys charging ahead at a pace that makes Teddy Roosevelt look like a Rasta in an ether factory. They are simply grown-up versions of the kids who would raise their hands at the end of the last class before Christmas break and remind the teacher that she forgot to assign homework.
What gets me is that you never see workaholics where they can do you some good. I mean, where are all the go-getters at the DMV, huh? Why does a visit to the post office always seem like an underwater Tai Chi class?
Hell, I'll be honest, I dream of a day when we are all replaced by computers. I can't wait until my entire presence on my show can be achieved simply by plugging in the Smugatron 2000 and pointing a camera at it.
But I guess, truth be told, in some sense, we are all workaholics, because getting through life is a hard job. Keeping a marriage together, raising children, and maintaining friendships—it's all hard work.
That's why whenever I spend any appreciable time now with my family, well, I insist that they, uh, they cut me a check. I find I try harder when they pay me. I don't take my loved ones for granted anymore because the money that they give to me shows me that they don't take me for granted. And the more money I get from them, the more of me they are going to get from me.
But who is a workaholic? Here are some hints.
1. When you're making a phone call from home, you hit "9" to get out.
2. You know you're a workaholic when you refer to your wife's vagina as "the in-box."
3. You're so pale from sitting in the office that people keep telling you they loved you in Powder.
4. You're so busy you have to pencil in a shit.
And finally, you know you're a workaholic if, in spite of the fact that you've been transferred to a five-sided building across the river, you still stop by on weekends to give your old boss an Arkansas howdy.
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
The End of Privacy
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but if you get the funny feeling you're being watched, well, that's going into your file.
Hey, when did our national anthem change from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to "Every Breath You Take"? In this grand democracy of ours, where the Statue of Liberty now bears a striking resemblance to Gladys Kravitz from "Bewitched," you've got a better shot at hearing Charlie Sheen deliver the keynote address at a Promise Keepers rally than you do at maintaining anything that even vaguely resembles a private life. Our constitutional rights are currently under more strain than Linda Tripp's capri pants.
Ever since Adam invented the fig-leaf genital toupee, privacy has been a basic human need. And as our lives get more complicated and therefore require even more privacy, the keyhole through which anyone can peer is growing wider than Steven Tyler's dental dam.
Computers now sell our names and addresses to the highest bidder. I get so many catalogs at my house, I had to order a special Hammacher Schlemmer solar-powered catalog lazy Susan to put them all on. You know what Victoria's Secret is, folks? There are no trees left.
Companies are able to find out your spending habits and preferences and junk-mail you accordingly. I mean, how else would Lillian Vernon know that I happen to have a fetish for musical toilet paper rolls that play the theme from "M*A*S*H"?
When you fill out a warranty card on a toaster, you seal your consumer fate. You end up on a master toaster list. Everybody that has anything remotely to do with toast is given your name. You get calls from jelly makers, and butter churners, and tea importers, and people who knit i like toast toaster covers. You'll eventually get caught up in a toast pyramid scheme, you lose your entire fortune, your house, your family, and you know what? You're toast.
This El Ni-o-like erosion of man's natural right to be secure in his own home, to speak with anonymity, and to masturbate like a red-assed monkey watching the banana channel . . . Well, this erosion is sadder than Richard Simmons attempting to throw a football. This is not the America our Founding Fathers envisioned. And I know that for a fact because I read their diaries.
But nowadays, we have the skeleton key to everybody's diary. My God, can you believe that we're actually all aware of the fact that our President's dick is bent? When in the history of mankind have the multitudes known the exact arc and curvature of their leader's staff?
The press has been all over Bill Clinton like fire ants on a half-eaten Yodel. Clinton's trials and tribulations indicate that we have reached the anti-Orwellian juncture where the government isn't violating the privacy of its citizens but rather the citizens are violating the privacy of the government. Hey, if I get any more mock deep, I'm gonna end up reading Spencers Gifts cards on the midway at Lilith Fair.
From the Audio Cassette edition.
Copyright 2001 by Dennis Miller