This article appears in the new May 2007 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.
THEY TELL YOU TO WRITE what you know. And officially, I now know nothing. This is what happens, I imagine, to anyone who ends up on television. Television is like becoming a drunk, except that you throw up a little less on your shoes.
Doing television requires a rewiring of your brain: The immediacy of the genre tells you to think in only three to four minute blocks, and during those blocks you can only speak in sentences that begin with phrases like “the fact of the matter is” or “at the end of the day” or “the rash appears red at first,” and so you end up pretty much saying things that come from part of your brain disconnected to things you actually know. I believe, in scientific communities, this is known as stupidity.
I said it’s like being drunk — I did say that, right (burp)?
I can’t remember. Anyway, I will say it again anyway, because while you’re drunk you are convinced you are the smartest person in the room. And when the booze wears off, you can’t remember anything you said (and for the most part, neither can anyone else) — and this is exactly like television. This is why many times you find guests bragging afterward about how great they were on O’Reilly or Hannity, and then you ask them why — and they go blank. Suddenly it occurs to them that all they said was “exactly,” “excellent question, Bill,” and “thank you for having me.”
And the more you do television, the dumber you get. I don’t care if you’re George Will, Charles Krauthammer, or an adorable polar bear cub making its debut in a Berlin Zoo — the more TV you do, the less likely you will remember how to use a hairbrush. This is why, for example, we have “hair” people. “Hair” people are the people at networks who do the hair for people on television. Without them, we would all look like road kill. Or worse, a contributing editor to the Nation.
That’s a dumb joke. And, as my wife likes to say to me, “Your stupidity knows no boundaries.” But I am smart enough to agree with her on this point.
Quick example: on Hannity & Colmes the other night, I tried to say “Pakistan.” I have said this word before ten, twenty — maybe even thirty times. (I have a pet nutria, which is a large, semi-aquatic rodent, named Pakistan. He’s basically a cross between a mouse and a beaver. He wears an activity cobbler apron around the house.) But on the show, which was live — or as live as Alan Colmes can actually attempt to be — I tried to say, “the mountains of Pakistan,” and it came out as the “mountains of Puh… puh… puh… puh… that country over there.”
Another highlight: I pointed out on my show Red Eye that General David Petraeus had every vowel in his name, except for “zero.” I actually meant to say, “O.” Zero is a number, not a vowel. I am not explaining it to you because I think you’re stupid. I am explaining it to you because….
I AM STUPID. I WASN’T STUPID a few months ago — but I find myself becoming more and more moronic with each passing day.
And this, friends — is a great thing. When I say that I am stupid — I really mean that I am simple. And, being simple — or simple-minded — is quite possibly the only way to make any sense of life. People (or rather, phonies) wax on about shades of gray, and life’s many complexities — but “the fact of the matter is” they need to get punched in the face. There are no shades of gray when it comes to pain — that’s why it’s called a “black” eye and not a “shades of gray” eye. The act of twisting a man’s nipple until he screams is called a “purple nurple.” There is no gray there either… believe me.
I also know that, when it comes to terrorism, one must always avoid any “nuanced” conversations — because “nuanced” means “liberal.” “The war on terror is just not that simple,” they will say. And anyone who disagrees — or rather — anyone who believes that the people who want to kill us need to be killed — is just “stupid.” At some point a solution involving the word “dialogue” will come up — and probably as a verb!
The only issue where the left believes “nuance” is not needed is in the realm of global warming. If you actually question the basic obviousness behind climate change hysteria — you will be beaten to death with carbon offsets. Every day another cretin becomes a media expert on global warming — because in our media being an expert only requires that you know “it’s getting warmer and it’s our fault.” Or, “it’s getting colder, and it’s our fault.” But the real reason why the media, politicians, elitists, and the left that permeates all three can be so simple-minded about global warming is that they are too scared to face the truth about terror. Better that we consider a fantasy war between humans and our planet than a real war between civilizations.
Right before he died of a heart ailment, I interviewed Joe Strummer, former lead singer of the greatest band ever, the Clash. He was a well-known lefty, who stupidly named one of their albums (a three-record monstrosity) “Sandinista.” Over the phone, I asked him what he thinks we Americans should do about the people behind 9/11. He said simply, and if I remember correctly, “Kill them. Get them before they get you.”
That’s about as smart as you need to get, and for a lefty I’m sure it sounds awfully stupid. Really, where is the complexity — you know, about the real definition of terrorism, the idea that one man’s terrorist is just another one’s revolutionary — and that our nation’s armies and missiles are just terror on a bigger, more sophisticated scale?
It’s now nearly six years later, and our country’s weakness is that we allow those “nuanced” questions to be taken seriously.
What Joe Strummer said is all you need to know about how to fight terrorism. And anyone who dares to muddle that thinking with complexity should first engage in a preliminary dialogue with those wonderful people in vests. The vests packed with explosives. Those folks love to chat, after all — and they never forget a word in those lovely videos they make.
They could probably do my job!
I LOVE MY JOB, by the way. The people are wonderful — John Gibson is a delight — and the hours are great — but sometimes I feel my brain has become as deflated as a child’s ball stuck up on a roof. On an average day I have to think of 25 things to talk about — 25 things I can’t possibly begin to understand — so instead, I practice what I learned when I used to read the Daily Californian, the school paper back at Berkeley. I would find out what its editorial stance was, and I would stake out the opposite. It made me right all the time.
I now do the same thing with Ellen Goodman, Frank Rich, anyone from MoveOn.org, and, of course, Brussels. It helps me keep things simple — and simple is stupid, and stupid is smart.
A sliver of complexity can be entertaining, however — especially when you find someone who clings to it because it’s all they’ve got. It’s funny and dangerous! It’s dangerous because once someone knows a little about something, they use it to extrapolate a lot. A good friend of mine — a liberal with great teeth — tried to educate me on carbon offsets. She explained that they work a little like this: you use energy, and you purchase a carbon offset. My other friend Andy pointed out that for every 2,000 miles you drive, the carbon offset would be a tree.
I would like to hang myself on the tree.
The essential truth to global warming is that no one knows what the truth is, but it doesn’t stop them from reconfiguring the way we live, and the way we feel about the way we live. For the richer members of the coastal elite, it’s a simple thing: just spend more money for carbon offsets to alleviate your guilt over the gargantuan mansion and the heating oil it uses — and you will still be invited to the cocktail party. If you’re poor, you’re crap out of luck — but it doesn’t matter because you weren’t invited to the party anyway.
That’s the other real truth about global warming: it’s just an invitation to a cocktail party full of hot air. It’s not that I hate cocktail parties. I just hate the people there who expect me to agree with them about all the things they know for a fact to be true.
Unlike Gore, I don’t know all the awful things we’re doing to the earth, and unlike Howard Dean, I don’t even know how stupid Bush is. I do know, however, that Lee Marvin is simply remarkable in Point Blank and I could talk about that for hours.
OTHER STUFF I KNOW (all in simple sentences prepared to be spoken on television or carved into Bono’s back with your dad’s penknife):
* Middle-aged single women with four cats who watch The View regularly are a decade away from being an old lady with 100 cats, all of which have eaten her.
* I am not a cop, but I still think fighting crime is a good thing. Likewise, I am not in the military, but I think fighting wars is necessary.
* I’ve never met an ugly person that I’ve liked. Good people appear attractive whether they are physically good looking or not. Ugly people are generally bad people (you can see this manifest itself in the correlation between bitter anger and homeliness in the likes Al Franken and Charles Manson).
* Generating hysteria over an idea is worse than doing nothing at all. This is why doctors came up with the term, and why Al Gore will die of frostbite.
*It’s not that Hummers are environmentally immoral. It’s that they’re ostentatious and absurd on a highway. But if you roll it over a Prius, you’re okay by me.
* Deepak Chopra is smarter than all of us. But like a modern-day Rasputin, he uses his powers for evil to rip off misguided women and should probably be thrown into a bottomless pit.
* But you can never be too sure about bottomless pits these days — what with the regulations — so we should probably put spikes at the bottom.
* If saxophones were shoes, you’d never wear them.
* Photographers got into taking pictures to get girls. And for the most part, it worked. That’s why I don’t like photographers around my wife.
* Adventurers deserve whatever they get from their foolhardiness. If you don’t hear from a mountain climber in a month, you should get his car, his house, and his wife.
* Yogurt is effeminized oatmeal.
* We are the least racist society in the history of the world. Most bigotry expressed in our culture is done solely to start or end a fight in a bar.
* Chinese takeout menus could be boiled down to eight things.
* Small things are adorable only when they’re small. I’ve said it before: Hitler was an adorable baby.
* Dolly Parton when naked expands to three times her clothed size.
*All my friends who run marathons are on Prozac.
* Protesters care less about the issues than they do about their genitals. In fact, it’s their genitals that make them protest.
* No one really works at Best Buy. They just make sure you leave the store with a receipt.
* Woman falling in the snow is funny, especially when they land on their rear.
* We lost control of teenagers when we stopped hitting them.
* Just saying “shrinking polar ice caps” is enough to get you a hot date at Brown.
That’s about all I know. By knowing so little, it makes it easier for me to get around. I travel light, and my head probably weighs less now than it did a year ago. I can’t wait to see how dumb I’ll be in a year!