Idol Fancies 

The presidential candidates are contestants in the ultimate reality show.

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon,

Going to the candidates' debate.

Laugh about it, shout about it.

When you've got to choose,

Every way you look at it you lose.

— "Mrs. Robinson" by Paul Simon

These traveling roadshows called debates have increasingly taken on the air of a TV reality program. I watched one Republican debate, but after seeing a majority of the candidates admit, en masse, that they questioned the validity of evolution, I didn't need to watch another.

The Republican debates are equivalent to the summer replacement show America's Got Talent. (The Democrats shade toward American Idol.) The contestants are carefully scrutinized as to appearance and confidence levels, and expectations run high each week over who will stumble and who will rise to the challenge. They even have judges posing as questioners. They critique the candidates' answers and attempt to build rivalries within the group. The role of the intemperate asshole judge is played by CNN's Wolf Blitzer (alternately, Chris Matthews). The flaw in the concept is that we can't phone in each week and get somebody booted in order to thin this herd and maybe hear something of substance.

I took an online poll in which you were asked to match your opinions with the candidate who most closely holds your views. Mine came out Dennis Kucinich, which is good and bad.

I admire the congressman's courage to call for impeachment openly and often. (He nearly got a vote to the floor last week.) I agree with him on ending the war in Iraq and holding the planners accountable. And he has been the single most consistent liberal voice in all these dark Bush years.

But I also know Kucinich hasn't got a chance to win the nomination. I'll happily vote for him in the Tennessee presidential primary to make a statement. Hell, I once voted for Prince Mongo for county mayor. I also voted for LaToya London on American Idol.

But once again, machine politics and corporate cash rule over procedure, and even though Kucinich's rousing debate performances rival the American Idol appearances of Bo Bice, he's going to lose to the blond lady who was mistreated when she was younger.

Before Hillary gets measured for crown and scepter, however, it would be well to remember that not a single vote has yet been cast and that the American voter is a famously fickle animal who will turn on you in an instant. How else can you explain Taylor Hicks winning American Idol, or George Bush winning anything, for that matter?

I'm sure Kucinich is at least as deserving as fellow ugly duckling Clay Aiken was. But if I had to review Hillary's debate performances thus far, I would say, à la Randy Jackson, "It was just aw'ite for me, Dog. You're a little pitchy."

While this lite operetta continues, President Zero is neglecting some serious issues: The Chinese are trying to date-rape our children; Wal-Mart has been discovered taking out life insurance policies on its aged workers and collecting benefits when they die; Laci Peterson has morphed into Stacy Peterson; a discovered statement left behind by the still-deceased Saddam Hussein said his flim-flammery about WMD was not to threaten the U.S. but to fool Iran.

Barack Obama has promised to take off the gloves this week. And did I fail to mention our troops are in the middle of a foreign civil war with no end in sight? Too bad we can't just vote the troops off the island.

Al Gore may have won his Oscar and his Nobel Prize, but Carrie Underwood and Daughtry kicked major butt at the AMA's, and Fantasia was up for an award, too. With the current television writers' strike, the mid-January start of the new season of American Idol might have to be moved up, just like those nervy upstart states want to do with their Johnny-come-lately primaries.

Then we could have five nights of nothing but American Idol and debates. But if the debates are going to compete, they have to really want it, Dog. This is, after all, a singing competition. And there is one lonely voice singing in the corner, crying, "Impeach now. Impeach now." Can you hear him? It's Dennis "The Dark Horse" Kucinich, and his spouse is better looking than Hillary's any day.

Hey, no one believed Ruben Studdard could win either. Seacrest out.

Randy Haspel is, among other things, a Memphis musician and wit. He writes at bornagainhippies.blogspot.com.

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