Back in the 70's, when there was one Superstation and a few fledgling Cable TV networks, none of them sold much advertising. So they filled the breaks with 2-minute per inquiry, or PI, spots. Usually these hawked the latest recordings by some has-been or never-was artist. Every time I saw a new PI for Mickey Mouse Disco, Boxcar Willie, or the guy with the Pan pipes, I muttered to myself: "Oh, expletive! This expletive is going to be messing up my TV screen for the next six months." I had the same reaction when I first heard that the muckrakers are hounding George W. Bush about his past drug use.
I like George W. Bush, or Junior as I prefer to call him. He seems to be a nice guy with a nice family, the sort of folks I'd like to have as neighbors if it wouldn't run up my property taxes too much. That said, I don't think Junior has any clue about being President of the United States. So far he's been elected governor of Texas, let the Democrats who run the legislature do what they want, and got their tacit support for his re-election. By the way, folks who claim that Texas is a microcosm of America have obviously been using substances proscribed in the FBI background check. Otherwise, Junior looks good on TV and has proved that he can get every Republican fat cat, except Steve Forbes, to stuff his pockets with cash whenever he walks in the room. These are not necessarily the qualities I look for in the leader of the free world. Even the handle "compassionate conservative" sounds more like a candidate for Pope than President.
Rather than focussing on his qualifications for the job, however, the cheap shot artists nipping at Junior's heels are diverting our attention with trivia. And it's not even a good, juicy scandal. At least Diane Sawyer can grill Al and Tipper Gore about Monica Lewinsky until you wonder whether they were watching. Why is the Y2K presidential race is all over the daily news anyway?
But the media assault will continue, and eventually Junior will have to 'fess up about his drug-crazed youth. Will his answer make a difference? Will it matter as much as John McCain's years on Capitol Hill, Gary Bauer's congregation, or Liddie Dole's sincere handshake? Probably not, but we're going to suffer through the original, the instant replay, and Pat Buchanan's attack ads for about as long as it took to unload all those Slim Whitman cassettes. In the meantime, the media will provide less information for the voters that's truly relevant.
So I'm glad that Junior is running for President and perversely gleeful when he tells some scumscucker "None of your business." More public figures should do it. And if Americans want to vote for a hick from the provinces instead of someone who knows how Washington works and might even accomplish something in the first few years in office, it's their right. Heck, they've elected three of 'em in the last twenty-five years. But I wish the media would take subjects like taxes, campaign finance reform, environmental policy, China, education, the aging baby boomers, and a dozen others as seriously as what Junior may or may not have done back when we heard Roger Whittaker sing every night on Cable TV.