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Sick As Usual

Our author returns to New York, praying for the codeine to kick in.

By 4.5.07

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This article appears in the April 2007 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.

HERE I AM, now in New York City, having moved from London to launch a TV show for Fox News -- and the welcome gift I receive is mycoplasma pneumoniae. I hate New York for this very reason: whenever I'm here, I get bronchitis and my air passages cease to function. My chest cavity stuffed with detritus and muck, every cough flings pieces of Marlboro-stained lung from my mouth -- usually in the unfortunate direction of my poor wife.

I hate coughing. It's not like sneezing -- which I love. I have always found sneezing to be a purely selfish pleasure -- an expulsion of itchiness followed by a rush of relief. Coughing, however, offers no such joy. Coughing is like Sneezing's loser ex-boyfriend -- causing nothing but trouble while affecting everyone around him. I am coughing a lot -- so much in fact that I actually cough while I am coughing -- the equivalent of having a snack in the middle of dinner. I should go to the doctor.

But, sadly, going to a doctor in Manhattan often means more than just getting to read Harper's in a plastic sheath. No, it also involves a lecture about smoking. I get that every time. Here in the land where everyone but you knows what's good for you, if you smoke you're not just a Nazi but a Holocaust denier as well, which pretty much cancels everything out anyway -- making you Swedish.

Because he asked -- I told the doctor my reason for returning to New York, and he appeared aghast at the thought of treating a patient who worked at Fox News. It was as though I had told him I was making beer out of babies. He made a crack about "fair and balanced," and then he was off to the races. While I coughed, shivered, and dripped, the doctor instructed me on the evils of George Bush, breaking it down into three familiar refrains:

-- He falsified reasons to go to Iraq.
-- Now everyone in the world hates us.
-- Did I mention he's stupid?

I stared at his family pictures and realized I might have to hit him with them. But instead, as a response, I weakly said something like, "Surely Bush is not as evil as those who are spending every minute of their day trying to kill us." He dismissed that, saying "extremists are very few in the world," which is kind of an obvious point -- since that's why they're called "extremists" in the first place. I began to stare at the prescription pad -- trying to will the doctor to shut up and start writing. After ten minutes, it worked -- and he wrote a few for codeine, steroids, and some crap I was supposed to shoot up my nose. He also gave me a pile of free samples of a new antibiotic -- something those evil drug companies come up with every year or so that radically improves the lives of everyone. God I hate those heartless bastards.

Yet, it bothers me that no one ever makes a movie about them. In fact, no one makes movies about stuff people do that actually helps people in real life. Take Stephen Frears. Please. He's British, so that makes him smart. And he was nominated for an Oscar for The Queen, which is not about Elton John or George Michael, but should be. Frears says he's now doing a movie related to the London bombings of July 7, 2005. But true to his nature, he won't be doing a movie really about the bombings at all -- but the real tragedy that occurred days later, when British agents mistakenly gunned down 27-year-old Brazilian national Jean Charles de Menezes, who ran from the cops in the subway -- probably a dumb thing to do just after a subway bombing. Doing something dumb doesn't mean you should die, but it doesn't need a movie to explain that point to us either.

Yet, somehow, Frears thinks this is a more important story -- the death of one man -- as opposed to, say, the wholesale slaughter of 50 plus Brits only days earlier -- and I think I know why: He's really into that moral ambiguity thing. And it's just too easy to say who the bad guy was on July 7 (well, for those of us not in academia). But with the shooting -- the bad guy could be YOU or ME! That's right -- our own paranoia, intolerance, and barely concealed racism is really the villain in this mess. And when de Menezes got shot, we all pulled that trigger.

In movies, the bad guy can never be the little guy. That's the problem with doing movies about the war on terror. Because, in the minds of Hollywood and London, we're not David -- the terrorists are. And that makes us Goliath. And you can't make Goliath a good guy. (Unless you animate him, and let Robin Williams do the voice.)

YEEHAW!!!! the codeine is kicking in!!!! I am levitating around the apartment -- a light-headed zombie floating in space. I know it's only 2007, but I am declaring myself president of my apartment. I swear this is how Al Gore must feel. My theory on Gore: Losing the presidency meant that he had to be president of something else -- something you can't vote on and something boring and intangible and where every media hack's assumptions are the same. Gore is officially the President of Global Warming, an office that was there for the taking, since its critics simply don't have the time or the energy to refute its preening disciples. He should make a movie about it.

Oh wait, he did. It was nominated for an Oscar -- which must have thrown many Academy members into a tizzy since it was up against a number of other flicks that also underline America's horrible place in this world. So which one would the Academy vote for? The one that says, we're all at fault for killing the planet? Or the one that says, we're all at fault for starting a war that's caused the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

They went for the planet, for obvious reasons: Now the Hollywood glitterati could congratulate themselves on showing up to the event in Priuses -- although if they really cared about the environment, they would have car-pooled. Wouldn't that have been grand: to see Warren, Jack, Leo, and Ellen ride-sharing in a hybrid! That will be my next campaign.

I wish I were in the Academy -- then I'd probably vote for the 1978 film, The Swarm. It involves two things I love: character actor Cameron Mitchell and killer bees.

I love killer bees. I remember that almost every month in the 1970s, we were always being reminded that the bees were only "200 miles off the coast" of Florida. They were always expected to arrive "late next year," and when they did -- the elderly, infants, and slow-moving pedestrians would suffer the worst. I grew up basically thinking that the killer bees were as inevitable as acne -- and we better start stocking up on light clothed zippered suits and canned foods.

I probably wrote a handful of book reports on it. I might have even wondered aloud, if the bees were truly at fault. Maybe they weren't "killers" to begin with. Maybe it was you and I who had turned them into these desperate revolutionaries in need not of elimination, but of understanding. Perhaps it was our collective "bee-gotry" that caused the problem.

Was America to blame, once again?

Of course, the killer bees never came. And for that I am grateful. But what still bothers me was the lack of accountability on the part of news organizations that allowed this hysteria to prosper. What happened to all those journalists, reporters, and TV hacks who continually scared the beans out of us about the oncoming killer bee massacre? Did they lose their jobs for their shoddy lies? Did they print retractions? Did they move to Jamaica and open a jam hut?

I BELIEVE FOR EVERY SCARE a journalist falsely reports, he should be punished in a manner similar to the type of hell he was predicting in his stories. So, if you wrote that the entire state of Rhode Island would be buried under a sea of angry bees, then you should be placed in a tiny room smelling of violet, and stung relentlessly by millions of yellow jackets as the state song "Rhode Island, It's for Me" is sung by the Providence Choral Group. Likewise, if you wrote scathing reports on silicone breast implants -- scaring many exotic dancers into having their illustrious orbs removed -- then you should be forced to pay. And by pay, I mean getting a shoddy implant inserted into your body. But not on your chest. On your face, so each day everyone can see what a boob you are.

Okay, time for a nap. Now remember to check out my new show on Fox. It's on at 2 a.m. Eastern Time -- every night. Wave to me, and I promise I will wave back.

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About the Author

Greg Gutfeld, is a co-host on Fox News’ The Five and the host of Red Eye.