Doctors in Tennessee have confirmed that Al Gore is alive, which is proof aplenty for resurrection. Sure enough, the Divinity School flunk-out comes bearing prophetic tidings of fire and brimstone. Apparently we decadent types have been indulging overmuch in the appetites of the flesh. In fact, says this coldest of fish, we are frying the good earth to a crisp. Playing Chicken Little with his Big Bird delivery, he tells us that our days, like Marc Rich bank accounts, are numbered. Well, as friend-of-this-column Claudia Monteverdi (Miss Latin America 2005) likes to say: “One man’s prophet is another man’s loss.”
To show his lighter side, Mr. Gore went on Saturday Night Live, where he sparkled with his repertoire of global warming and high-gas-price jokes. It reminds me of a great story by Jewish historian Baruch Epstein, who was present, circa 1900, at an inn in Minsk where a famous rabbi spent a night. A group of locals came by to greet him, but among them was a cynic looking to cause him embarrassment. “Tell me, Rabbi,” he asked in front of the crowd. “Why are all your views so severe?” “On the contrary,” replied the scholar with a chuckle. “Most authorities forbid fasting on the Jewish New Year, but I’m prepared to be lenient.”
Incidentally, Gore not only jested, he attempted to laugh. Look at the two pictures in the USA Today article about his appearance; have you ever seen a more strained and ghastly rictus?
WHEN DID THE GOOD-TIME LIBERALS of the Sixties turn into such austere, humorless pedants? There is some poetic justice, I’m sure, in the specter of a clique that turned away from God in a quest for fun and then evolved into a sort of secular religion that is sere and ascetic. Whatever the sociological — or theological — explanation, the phenomenon itself is undeniable.
Take the War against Tobacco. Try to whip out a cigarette in public today and you cast a pall over the entire mall. You’re lucky if they don’t strike you. Now if someone told you in the 1960s that eventually half the society would shun tobacco as a noxious weed, which half would you have predicted? Perhaps those gawky College Republicans with the crew cuts and the bland ties. Surely not the hipsters who walked around with a permanent comic-strip idea-cloud of fumes enhaloing their skulls full of revolutionary ideas. Turns out you would have made some lousy prognosticator. No wonder the bookie owns your house.
How about the putsch against the Sports Utility Vehicle? That was not engineered by your moneybags bottom-line types. It was not the boring, regimented, judgmental holy-roller pro-lifers who couldn’t abide the dominance of cool cars. Nope. It was the let-it-all-hang-out guys who suddenly got hung up on gas mileage. It was the whatever-floats-your-boat brigade who decided that the fuel that was floating your boat was also polluting something or other — water, air, rare species of animal or plant, you name it.
Most recently they have set their sights on our dinner plates. Remember when they told us in the ’60s to do what feels good? Come on, everyone my age (48), let’s sing it together: “Charlie says, ‘Love my Good & Plenty,’ Charlie says plenty good for you!” Denying your impulses would squelch your identity and give you hang-ups; you would be suffocated by your inhibitions; you would be buying into Establishment hypocrisy and selling out your generation. Oops! They changed their mind. Those same guys are fighting to keep sugary sodas out of your kid’s hot little hands so as to fend off the “obesity epidemic.”
Are any pleasures, guilty or otherwise, still allowed by liberals? Well, they claim that they are the fearless battlers for the freedom of sexuality, that they have not skipped a beat since the orgiastic ’60s. Unlike Republican fuddy-duddies, they really know how to cut loose. Please join me for a moment in visualizing this scene: our Democrat swinger loathes the leather jacket, denies himself a drink, lunches on a lettuce leaf, cedes the cigarette, spits on his sports car in the driveway, pops on public transportation and shows up, suave and debonair, an hour late for the rendezvous. I can’t describe the rest because this is a family magazine, but with that lead-in, it must be unmentionably exciting.
Do us all a favor, Mr. Gore. Take your movie and Cannes it. You and your generation of ex-reprobates who supposedly believe in “quality of life” are wearing us down with your doom and gloom, your hellfire and damnation, your guilt and mopery. Call us selfish, call us sensualists, call us immoral if you must, but all we want to do is live out our seventy years with a good meal, a good quaff, a good smoke, a good drive — and a good woman too, not that it’s any of your business.
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