A couple of years ago, when the state of the world seemed a little less bleak than it does now -- a little, mind you, not a lot -- a reader wrote in to say that he was tired of my “constant rants about Dubya” and wondered if I could “ever write an entire column without once mentioning the name George W. Bush.”
The answer is no. As you can see from the above sentence, it’s impossible. But I do get asked that question a lot. Even the so-called Bush-haters are tired of hearing about him. “Oh, fercrissake, Pete!” they complain. “Can’t you write something -- anything! -- that isn’t about that wet-brain in the White House?” And the people who still admire Bush are even more expressive, believe me: “You f—kin’ stinkin’ liberal queer -- get over it! George Bush won the election fair and square and he’s gonna be our Prezdint till every one of you filthy homos dies from AIDS like you deserve!”
Ooo-la-la! The New York Times reports that in Washington they’ve started serving French fries again in the congressional cafeteria, the idea of “Freedom Fries,” after five years, being a little too stupid for even Republicans to contemplate.
Well, never mind. Whenever the “Why-Don’t-You-Write-About-Something-Else?” question raises its head, I do what every serious journalist does and try to please the people. Over the past year, I’ve written about topics as diverse as the James Frey literary scandal, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the plight of the Nukak Indians in Colombia, Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Angelina Jolie -- but damned if they didn’t all lead back to Bush, one way or another. It just can’t be helped. There’s absolutely nothing in national or world affairs that Bush and his regime haven’t touched and, by touching, made worse.
I don’t know why this should be, but I know it’s a fact. And, far from pleasing the people, my feeble efforts to get off Ding-Dong’s back seem only to inflame them further. My column about Angelina Jolie, for example, in which I suggested that she be made Queen of America in the absence of a functioning Bill of Rights, brought on more angry mail than I’ve had since the lesbians called me “transphobic” nearly a decade ago. My friend and former college roommate, rock star James Velvet, tells me that this is because writing about celebrities hits people “where they live,” and I guess he’s right, because I got a similar wash of impassioned emails when I once did a column about Renee Zellweger’s hair.
Just for the record -- and I’m sure you’re dying to know -- the Angelina Jolie brigades come in two warring camps. There’s the “Brangelina” camp, which chastises me for “polluting the internet" with sophomoric diatribes about people who do such wonderful work for charity. According to them, I need to "get a life" and a "golden heart." Then there’s the “Jennifer Aniston” camp, which tells me I’m going to “rot in hell” along with Brad and Angie, who “suck and are full of crap and think that by trying to save the world they can justify what they did to poor Jen. Jen doesn’t deserve to be even one foot close to that scumbag [Brad] and that whore who cannot keep her legs closed [Angie].” Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because “we’re all going to be beautiful in heaven,” except for “ignorant mortals” like me “and most other celebrities/writers.” This, in fact, is the word of “God Almightly.” (Yes, you read that right: “Almightly”).
Hmm. This problem of not writing about Bush is becoming so serious that I actually consulted one of my editors about it last week, who agrees that the world’s a mess on account of Bush and his policies, but suggested that I write about testosterone instead. She was referring to the now blazing scandal surrounding Floyd Landis, who “just two weeks ago,” according to wire reports, was “glorified as the come-from-behind champion of the Tour de France,” but now “faces perhaps the steepest climb of his life” after an “anti-doping official” confirmed that he had irregular testosterone levels in his blood and that this testosterone was shown to be “synthetic” by “foolproof” tests.
Got that? I don’t. I don’t know anything about the Tour de France except that it’s a bicycle race somewhere overseas -- France, maybe? -- that Lance Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor, has won it every year in human memory, and that, like all professional sports, it goes on forever and you can never tell what’s happening. I mean, in the Tour de France, someone can be miles ahead of everyone else, pedaling like mad up a mountain, and still not come in first. I don’t understand it, but my editor’s point was clear. “Since when has anyone gotten upset because some man had too much testosterone in him?” she asked, with what I think was a touch of sarcasm.
I had to think about this a bit, because I know some women -- mainly in my family -- who’ve been very much upset by too much testosterone in the atmosphere. But before I could say anything, my editor said it herself: “Yeah, testosterone. That all goes back to Bush, too -- Bush and Iraq and Hezbollah and Israel and wars and bombs going off. Just little boys with little toys.” Then she sighed, with what I think was … well, let’s call it “irony” this time.
So, you see, there’s really no hope of my changing what I do until Bush is out of office. As I write this, we’re stuck with him for another 895 days, 22 hours, 33 minutes and 13 … 12 … 11 … seconds. “Get over it!” Now that we know there’s such a thing as an “anti-doping official,” however, maybe he can go work for Mel Gibson. Or at the White House -- take your pick.
Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including: Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: email@example.com. Visit his website at: www.peterkurth.com/.
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