Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 01/18/06

Artist's Statement

Thanks to the readers who wrote over the last week to enlighten me about the many Talking Animals of the Bible. Not to mention the talking animals in Milton, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Judaic apocrypha.

Since I have been mocking the dingbat beliefs of creationists lately I thought it only fair to expose some of my own dodgier convictions. Plus I’ve been angling for a way to get my Dick Cheney theory into print for months now. I genuinely believe in each of these crackpot theories. Permit me, like a creepy guy sitting next to you on the bus, to discourse upon each of them in turn and at length.

Crackpot Theory #1: George Bush’s story about giving up drinking is too neatly and implausibly constructed: supposedly he quit on his 40th birthday and found Jesus. Period. This is not how these things typically happen, and, more importantly, just quitting without going into some sort of recovery program is not really sobriety—the President is what they call a “dry drunk.” More likely, I think, he solved his drinking problem in the same trademark method he uses to solve all other problems—he lied about it. I mean, think about it: choked on a pretzel? This is such a dumb, embarrassing story that you’d invent another story to cover it up, unless the real story was even more embarrassing, so potentially damaging that you’d invent a cover story so embarrassing that no one would ever suspect it of being a cover story. (However, a disclaimer: it was not George Bush who was injured in drunken lightsaber horseplay. It was me.)

Crackpot Theory #2: Read Mark Crispin Miller’s book Fooled Again for a full examination of the evidence that the election was rigged. I remember raising this question on the road with my colleagues on the Laugh While You Can tour back in April; did they think the Republicans had rigged the election? They were both hesitant, hedged their answers for fear of seeming like paranoid left-wing conspiracy cranks, but finally they sheepishly confessed that, although there was no hard evidence, yeah, they kind of believed so. My own reasons for thinking so are based on my understanding of the Bush administration’s mentality; secretive, contemptuous of the people, hostile to democracy, concerned above all else with holding, consolidating, and expanding their power. No fucking way were they going to take even the smallest, most marginal risk of losing this election. Everyone knew it was going to be close. You think they would leave it up to the Americanelectorate, for whom they have never shown the slightest trust or inclination to permit to interfere in their governance? The company that manufactured the voting machines, Diebold, is owned by a Republican campaign donor who publicly promised to do everything in his power to deliver the election to Bush. There were no paper ballots, no way of monitoring or double-checking the accuracy of the results. Exit polls all showed that Kerry would win. You figure it out. We are living in a dystopian parallel universe, like the one in Star Trek where everyone wears daggers and Mr. Spock has a goatee. In the real America no one is debating whether torture is wrong, the government responded swiftly and efficiently to Katrina, and George and Mr. Cheney are hosting a cooking show. Thanks to humor consultant Boyd for help on that panel, and to the invaluable Joy of Cooking for information on soufflés.

Finally, my pet theory, Crackpot Theory #3: the invasion of Iraq is all about Dick Cheney’s heart condition. Hear me out here. It is well documented that people who have had heart attacks and/or open-heart surgery very often then suffer episodes of clinical depression afterward. The reasons are obvious; it’s a confrontation of one’s own mortality, an existential shock that often precipitates major personality changes. A sane, decent person (fig.1, my friend Jim, who did not require bypass surgery but did have a heart attack last April and is a new man these days) might resolve to worry less about trivial things like work and money and devote more time and attention to the people they really love. Because Dick Cheney is neither sane nor decent, mentally warped and morally stunted, he decided that his great achievement, his gift to humanity, his lasting monument in human history, would be the invasion of Iraq. Cheney suffered his first heart attack in 1978, when he was 37, and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1988. Friends and confidantes of Dick Cheney have repeatedly described his monomaniacal obsession with Iraq as being “like a fever.” His old friend and colleague Brent Scowcroft said of him, “I don’t know him anymore.” And by all accounts it’s Cheney who pushed insistently and unrelentingly for invasion throughout the buildup to war. I’m sure there is a delicate protocol in the Bush White House whereby the idiot boy king is carefully allowed to believe he is making all the decisions himself, but I’m also sure that, like a rube being taken in by a card trick, he is presented with a narrow, pre-selected range of options and subtly directed toward the one he’s supposed to pick. It’s documented that he makes his final decisions—including the decision to invade Iraq--only after meeting with Cheney alone. I’m convinced that 2000 Americans and, by the President’s own conservative estimate, 30,000 Iraqis—that’s ten times the number of Americans killed on 9/11—have died for no reason other than that a sick, frightened old man who was too cowardly to go to war himself years ago is afraid of dying as the inept, forgettable technocrat he is and always has been. He is suffering delusions of grandeur, dreams of being the architect of a great foreign policy, founder of a New American Century. I say his motives are no different from those of ancient kings who had all their wives and servants buried along with them, or those dirtbags who go on shooting sprees at work before blowing their own brains out. He’s just scared to go out alone.

My other crackpot theories: Alito will prove to be a Fundamentalist authoritarian hack out to protect the civil liberties of zygotes and reinstate the Divine Right of Kings. The N.S.A. is regularly spying not just on suspected terrorists and their associates but on dissident groups, antiwar activists, environmentalists, socialists, Democrats, journalists, and anyone else they don’t like the looks of. Nobody in power actually gives a shit about the state of public education. If Pakistan’s military junta is ever overthrown by an Islamic coup, we will nuke them within a week. The Chinese will get back to the moon before we do. They will be the next major world power, but I’m still rooting for Brazil anyway, since they like to party and wear thongs and are not xenophobic fascists. We should not forget about the Russians. Industrial society as we know it will collapse within our lifetimes, either because of global warming or oil depletion. People are getting noticeably stupider. Everything is getting worse, except for stadium seating in theaters, which is unfortunately cancelled out by the ads before previews. The Big Lebowski is all about Vietnam. Pluto is a planet no matter what anyone says. There are sea monsters.


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