"It's not as a consequence of being in politics," says Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey. "This could happen if I were in the restaurant business or a journalist. It happens to people in all walks of life." What does?
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Thursday's Question (No. 375)--"Kiss Kiss Kiss":
His encomium was gushed in a Senate hearing room Wednesday: "I think there are many people who would be due credit, and there are more who would claim credit. But of those who are in a position of authority, I think your name would have to be at the top of the list." Who is praising whom for what?
"Another one of those telemarketers offering me a Visa card. I never expected they would use C-SPAN!"—Ken Novak
"Boy, did I have a good answer before I realized I was mixing up 'encomium' with 'perineum.' "—Greg Diamond
"George W. Bush praised Gen. Noriega, 'for giving me the resources I needed to survive Texas A&M.' "—Barry Johnson
"Jesse Helms applauds Johnny and Luther Htoo and their followers for propping up North Carolina's struggling tobacco industry."—Matt Heimer
"President Clinton, stopping to congratulate Strom Thurmond on the news that it was he, and not Thomas Jefferson, who fathered Sally Hemings' children."—Peter Carlin
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One of my great disappointments about show business was to discover how often business dealings are carried out with utter honesty. After all, one wants the Platonic ideal of an experience, and in Hollywood that should mean treachery, fraud, and the relentless pursuit of self-interest. At most, I habitually met with one out of three. This may just mean that I was too puny to be worth robbing, but it still hurt my feelings. Hollywood's lamentable candor is particularly evident in the displaying of credits. Every movie comes with an all too thorough list of who did what, from the camera work to the costume design to the sound effects. You leave the theater knowing the names of people who did things when you have no idea what the thing actually is—the Foley operator? This is a practice that should be universally embraced. Every novel, for instance, should list the name of the editor who endorsed each of its mixed metaphors. Every State of the Union address should be fully annotated so you can curse a particular religious fanatic for boosting faith-based organizations. And my comical Krups microchip toaster with no little door to empty out the crumbs—I'd like to know the name of the designer so I can send a note thanking him for the colorful fire that so animated my breakfast. If we want real accountability, it's either this, or more Senate hearings, or expanding the Oscar categories to include "Worst Toaster Design."
Advise and Consent and Bow Down and Worship Answer
Sen. Phil Gramm is exalting Alan Greenspan for creating "the golden age that we find ourselves living in."
The Texas Republican, chairman of the banking committee, was particularly fond of the growing gap between the richest and poorest Americans and the easy availability of pornography, not just on cable TV, but now online. Of course he wasn't. I don't think. But he did glorify the 73-year-old Greenspan for making the death penalty so popular and for being "the most stunning piece of man-flesh I have ever seen." Nope. Not that either. But no kidding—"golden age." If that poor bastard Aristotle only knew what he was missing …
Matthew Singer's Amtrak-MARC Actual Contest Extra
Proposed new safety slogans for the beloved Baltimore-Washington commuter line. All will be forwarded to Amtrak for a shot at the big prize—a one-month free pass on the MARC and a chance to have an FBI file opened on you.
- "On your MARC ... get set ... no, wait, please board safely."—Susan Babcock
- "Remember, getting to Washington, D.C., is almost as dangerous as being there."—Daniel Radosh
- "Commit Suicide Elsewhere."—Francis Heaney
- "Amtrak: Head-On Into the Future."—Tony Pisculli
- "Station-specific slogans would work best and promote local pride: Halethorpe is for lovers; Odenton is for dreamers; Seabrook ... 'nuff said; Savage ... one classy town; Aberdeen isn't much ... but they do put up that funny light display of Santa golfing every winter!"—Deborah Wassertzug
- "If you're taking this train, your job's not worth the rush."—Arthur T.S. Jackson
- "What, you're too good to die in a fiery derailment like everybody else?"—Dale Shuger
- "This is your brain. This in your brain on the stairs at Penn Station. Any questions?"—Josh Pollack
- " 'Stop jabbering on the cell phone, and pay attention to where you're stepping, dufus.' Sure, it's not short, but I'll bet it prevent a lot of accidents."—Gary Frazier (Peter Lerangis had a similar entry.)
- "THANK YOU (eye level)
FOR (knee level)
AMTRAK! (track bed)"—Peter Lerangis
- "Your Safety: A MARCsism That's Starting a Revolution!"—Peter O'Toole
- "Watch out for pickpockets. (This to raise alertness and provide separation without drawing attention to the real problems.)"—Bob Johnson
- "Maybe Clumsy People Should Just Stay Home."—Francis Heaney
- "Stop reading this damn sign and watch where you're walking."—Jon Delfin, in N.Y.C., home to "Littering is filthy and selfish so Don't Do It" signs (similarly, Daniel Kahn)
- "Don't Detrain Drunk."—Francis Heaney
- "Duck and Cover."—Jim Derby
- "Safety is our No. 3 priority."—Peter M. O'Donnell
- "No seatbelts? No problem!"—Brooke Saucier
- "Keep away from the crack or end up on the track."—Matthew Cole (similarly, Brooke Saucier)
- "How about a nice voice-over that comes through the train in a honeyed, James Earl Jones tone: 'Look at it. Its mesmerizing depths, its daunting width. You could be so free of care, so peaceful, if you just take that one little step. The gap is calling to you, calling your name and federal ID number. Let go.' And then the slogan 'The MARC Gap: making government smaller every day.' "—Kate Wing
Do You Have What It Takes To Be Jay Leno Extra?
You may qualify for our home-study course that could prepare you for a high-paying career as a professional funny man. Take this simple test. Can you transmute this actual Reuters headlines into comic gold?
"Consumers Again Urged To Discard Pokémon Balls"
That Al Gore Internet thing; that Strom Thurmond geriatric racist thing.