The American Spectator has taken lately to advertising itself as “America’s cleverest magazine,” causing sleepless nights and extensive therapy for those of its humble contributors like Yours Truly who are fearful that they cannot live up to that billing. The secret of being a good columnist is to nail the opening sentence, writing something that is at once witty, compelling and indicative of where the article is heading. With the bar now set so high, I have been forced to discard some openings that fell just short. Here are twenty-five that are headed for the wastepaper receptacle; maybe you can use ’em.
1) Consumer confidence is down, they say, and at least in my case they’re right: I don’t buy it.
2) That old peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, taught the Democratic Party a great deal: since his departure they have produced a consistent harvest of nuts.
3) The late Betty Friedan pursued an ingenious strategy of uglification; after the Wicked-Witch-of-the-West look-alike had a few children, she wrote a series of books to convince nice-looking women like Gloria Steinem not to reproduce.
4) Oprah Winfrey has become so incensed at James Frey for fooling her with his book, A Million Little Pieces, that she has berated him on national television — and fired him from ghost-writing her memoir.
5) The left wing of the Supreme Court claims to speak for modernity but has an average age of 72; soon they’ll be the greatest concentration of liberal octogenarians outside of 60 Minutes.
6) The NSA defends its warrantless wiretapping program by pointing out that the windows of opportunity don’t last long: once the eaves drop, the sashes go quickly.
7) Martha Stewart has come back to Us and she can now return to her People; she has paid her debt to the society page.
8) Fate offered Cindy Sheehan a shot at ordinary anonymity, kind of kind and pretty pretty, but she wanted more.
9) We know that the Muslims take our cartoons too seriously and we know that they are always looking for moral equivalence: could it be that Zarqawi killed the producer of the Halloween movies intentionally, as part of his War on Terror?
10) This notion that there is a global clash between the Western and Islamic cultures introduces a novel premise; namely, that the other side has a culture.
11) I’m not sure where this idea comes from that Michael Moore would not be a good companion in a trench: he looks to me like a fine trencherman.
12) Apparently there is intense rivalry among Bush Vice Presidents: the radio reports that Dick Cheney was shooting at Quayle but accidentally hit a Texan lawyer right in the potatoe.
13) The 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth reminds us that music did not begin with Frank Sinatra: long before there was a Rat Pack we had the Wolf Gang.
14) Tom DeLay may have pulled a boner to cost him his job as Majority leader but John Boehner did not delay in campaigning for the vacated slot.
15) John Kerry abandoned his neutrality when he announced from Switzerland that he would filibuster the Alito nomination — ostensibly because of his concern for Dick Cheney’s daughter.
16) Samuel Alito’s first act as a Justice was to grant a stay of execution on the premise that Missouri’s form of capital punishment might be cruel and unusual: apparently they administer death by Senate hearing.
17) Self-immolation is not my preferred form of protest; no one likes making a fuel of himself.
18) A couple of people went to the Olympics to reach for the brass ring but took nasty spills when it turned out that those five rings are welded together.
19) Scooter Libby says that he is affiliated with Reform and Jack Abramoff has in recent years identified with Orthodox; one thing for sure, neither has helped the conservatives.
20) It is becoming progressively clearer why the Republicans have been pummeling the Democrats in elections: there is an agenda gap.
21) President Bush graciously called the Pittsburgh Steelers to congratulate them on their Super Bowl victory and to attribute their success to his protectionist tariffs.
22) Democrats say that our stewardship of the caribou habitat in Alaska constrains us from digging there for oil; Republicans call that Steward’s Folly.
23) Mike Brown says he drove his Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry and the good old boys in Homeland Security were drinking whiskey and rye: where have I heard this song and dance before?
24) Nancy Pelosi claims that the Republicans foster a culture of corruption; in its place the Democrats offer the corruption of culture.
25) Hillary Clinton recently started to talk tough against Iran; in my appearance on the Larry Elder Show I announced that henceforth she shall be known as the “Battle Axis of Evil.”
There you go. Now take my rejects and earn yourself a nice living at one of America’s less clever magazines.