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Satire and rumour strive to find political humour
By DUNCAN CAMPBELL in Los Angeles
The Vietnamese Government is quietly celebrating the fact that John McCain, the "Manchurian candidate" they brainwashed and programmed to seize power in the United States is only a few steps away from their goal.
His chief rival, George W. Bush, who plans to free all drug offenders if elected, has a new strategy to woo Latino voters: he is doubling his normal tip in Mexican restaurants.
As the campaign for the Republican and Democrat nominations reaches its likely climax in California and New York today, the satirical rumour mills have been grinding energetically.
It is not surprising that the notion of Senator McCain as a brainwashed tool of the communists should have a certain frisson. John Frankenheimer's 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate explored the idea of an American hero of the Korean war programmed by the communists to return to the US and kill a politician.
The wicked rumour that Senator McCain, a prisoner of the Vietnamese for 5 years, was the new "Manchurian candidate" has been given its biggest airing by his own supporters, who have publicised it as an example of how dastardly some opponents can be in spreading such obvious nonsense.
Mr Bush was an early victim of dirty rumours. A Website, gwbush.com, which purported to be his, claimed that in his first year in office he would empty jails of the country's 400,000 drug offenders.
Citing the fact that one in nine children in the US has a parent in jail, the site said he wanted to become "the president who gave those kids their parents back".
"Recreational drug users - like I used to be - are serving life sentences because dealer friends made up stories to get a lighter sentence," says "Mr Bush" on the bogus Web site. "If this were happening in China, we'd probably start bombing them for human rights violations. We have to let these people go."
The Republican front-runner was also mocked after a rally in Michigan when a Canadian television reporter told Mr Bush that he had won the endorsement of the Canadian prime minister, Mr Jean Poutine.
Mr Bush was flattered and told the reporter: "I'm honoured. He understands that I want to ensure our relationship with our most important neighbour to the north of us, Canadians, is strong. We will work closely together."
Alas for Mr Bush, the real Canadian prime minister is Mr Jean Chretien. Poutine is a high-calorie, fast-food French-Canadian dish of chips covered in gravy and cheese curd.
The "journalist" was the Canadian comedian Rick Mercer, who often pokes fun at Americans' ignorance of Canada. Mr Bush's gaffe was gleefully transmitted in Canada last week. He was targeted after he failed to identify the premiers of India and Pakistan.
But if Mr Bush continues to run, comedians may be redundant anyway. He is, after all, the "compassionate conservative" who gave the go-ahead to execute a great-grandmother in Texas.
As satirist Tom Lehrer said when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize: "Who needs satire?"
Can someone please explain the humour here? Do you mean we have more of this stuff coming? Hmmm. Maybe that's the joke...
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2000
Our politicians today I would define as a tragic comedy,no amount of satire or farce can compare to the fiasco being staged at the Washington Theatre.
-- capnfun (email@example.com), March 07, 2000.
LOL. Thanks Pieter, I needed that.
-- gilda (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2000.
I believe it was Tom Lehrer who observed that when Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize, political satire died in the USA.
-- Brian McLaughlin (email@example.com), March 07, 2000.
Pieter - what do you need explained?
Maybe you need to know that George W. Bush was a "party animal" in college and is widely rumored to have used hard drugs, including cocaine. (He has refused to confirm or deny.) A number of libertarians who believe in abolishing drug laws have pointed out his hypocricy in jailing people for doing what he did (but was never caught at.) Jokes linking "W" with cocaine are about as common as jokes linking Clinton with sex, an automatic giggle.
Some of the rest of it - you have to have been there.
-- kermit (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2000.