Those of us living in the hayseed regions are rarely hard up for entertainment, with all the corn to shuck and the animals to skin, yet we are beginning to agree with some analysts that the world of talk radio, which animates our rustic lives, is becoming stale. The fact of the matter is, right-wingers dominate the airwaves and every once in a while it would be good to have some diversity, as it is called, just to give us a good reason to spit.
To be sure, we find plenty of contrary opinions in the newspapers and on television, but radio is our preferred venue because we can listen while we're shucking, skinning, and driving to the bait shop. Our better lunch counters and barrooms play Rush and the G-Man -- and if O'Reilly's people pony up enough money they'll probably carry him too.
So it's all beginning to sound the same. Maybe the former president, whose name we no longer speak, will get a television show, which might lead to a radio show, at least if he can keep his hands out of his pants and not get tossed off the air. On second thought, radio might be his ideal medium. He is known to carry on conversations while making love, so-called, and radio would be just perfect for that.
In the meantime, the only hope we seem to have for some true left-wing barking is the much-discussed Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour. According to one news account, the Tour comprises "environmentalists, anti-war protesters, homosexual activists, and liberal politicians" whose intention is to "sow the seeds of leftist activism in America's heartland."
The Tour, which is already underway, appears to be something like the old traveling shows that brought rainmakers, snake-oil salesmen, and revivalists to our regions. Indeed, among the participants is the National Council of Churches, and the son of the nation's most prominent clergyman, Jesse Jackson. Other Tour members include Sen. Paul Wellstone, The Ruckus Society, Greenpeace and lesser known groups, including one whose cause is the re-establishment of voting rights for felons.
This shows great promise. For instance, we're still partial to awarding felons with careers in the gravel industry, so the prospect of being told we should instead concentrate on their voting rights should inspire some interesting give and take. One senses the advocates will be taking a lot of flying vegetation and perhaps a pitchfork or two. As for the ministers, a good sermon on the revised view of St. Paul's sex life might produce a few additional sparks, and maybe even a full-blown fire.
Like all good pageants, the Tour includes a beer wagon and has put an authentic Fool on the payroll -- none other than Jim Hightower, whose left-wing radio show has been none too successful on the national stage. Quoth Jim: "There is, in my view, no excuse for him (George W. Bush) being president except that we did not have an organized, progressive, political grassroots, long-term effort that can appeal, not only to card-carrying progressives, but to the Bubbas out there who are mostly on our side on the economic issues, the power issues, yet are not voting because they don't see our flag flying."
Fool indeed. Out here we all know that the real reason Dubya won was he came in second in the popular vote. In other words, the forces that rule the universe decreed he would win no matter what Jim's side offered, including womb-to-tomb food, housing, and Budweiser.
While heartlanders will reject much of the Tour's official mumbo-jumbo, there will be some areas of agreement. According to one official, "We want to reach our sort of collective Rolling Thunder hands into the rich, black earth of the American Heartland and bring together people who haven't organized together before and perhaps, haven't been politicized." Among other things, he promised "rousing speeches" about subjects like "fighting corporate rules." Despite what you hear, many of us have no attachment to corporations except for the one we happen to work for. As for all the others, we spend most of our time trying to put them out of business. Maybe this will impress the visitors. Maybe it will impress them so much they'll discount our beer.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this show is that most of us will never get to see it. The reason is that the organizers are confused about the exact location of the heartland. As any fool knows, the heartland is not merely the area between New York and Los Angeles, but any place outside the nation's large metropolitan areas. Yet for some reason, the Tour started in Austin, Texas, which is hardly heartland material, nor is it alien to left-wing politics. From there it travels to other well-known hayseed hotbeds including Chicago, Tucson, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Seattle. Seattle, of course, is home to thousands of anarchists and other creatures of the outer left fringes. They are so highly politicized that they sometimes engage in authentic street warfare.
That's not to say the Tour will necessarily be a bust. Some hayseeders who happen to be vacationing in Chicago, etc. might wander in and get proselytized. A few of them might do some proselytizing of their own. As the local Baptist intellectual reminds us, girls from National Council-type congregations tend to be quick to the hayloft. Buy 'em a few beers and promise to send a check to the Whale Fund and you can round the bases all you want. Indeed, they may become so enamored they'll covert to the hayseed side. That won't solve our entertainment problem, but the extra backs will come in handy at harvest time.