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January 19, 2007

Truthiness in the No Spin Zone

Truthiness in the No Spin Zone

By John Breneman

Did you see the bizarro world meeting between the nation's most bombastic ego and the truthy satirist who plays him on cable TV?

Yes, it was Bill O'Reilly meets Stephen Colbert -- the first-ever No Spin Zone Twilight Zone Colbert Nation Lovefest Smackdown. (Palooza?) These two titans of broadcasting traded appearances on each other's programs last night, "The O'Reilly Factor" (top-rated cable news show, 8 p.m. on Fox) and "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central).

Hosting first was O'Reilly, the blustery master of sound and fury signifying whatever he tells his viewers/devotees it signifies. Later, O'Reilly's visit was trumpeted as a historic summit by Colbert, widely acclaimed for wielding irony like a blunt instrument in his O'Reilly-based persona.

"You're about to watch me enter a No Spin Zone," Colbert said at the top of his show, having confessed earlier to the man he calls Papa Bear that O'Reilly's version of "no spin" gives him "vertigo."

Colbert had also admitted that "emulating" O'Reilly was taking a toll. "I haven't seen my kids in 18 months and I'm losing calcium in my bones," the actor told O'Reilly on "The Factor."

"What keeps you going?" he asked. "Jesus Christ or Pat Robertson's protein shakes?" Just a little jab at O'Reilly's prominent stature among the religious righteous.

Back in Colbert Nation, Fauxreilly set the stage by unveiling a mischievous "Mission Accomplished" banner to commemorate his own ability get O'Reilly on the show (and to tweak conservatism's blind loyalty to the bumbling war president).

Colbert then excitedly opened the last door on "my Bill O'Reilly advent calendar," complete with the beatific Baby O'Reilly in the manger.

Colbert's genius extends to gesture, as when he disarmed O'Reilly's "Culture War" cult of personality by slapping a 30% off sticker over the self-important author's book cover mug (evoking David Letterman's famous "About 60% of what you say is crap" in-your-facer to the TV bully).

When Colbert popped his most loaded question -- "Which is destroying America more: activist judges, gay marriage, illegal immigration or NBC?" -- Blowreilly gobbled the bait and blurted "NBC." (He also weaved in this fair and balanced analysis of The New York Times: "They're scum.")

O'Reilly took a shot at calling Colbert out when he characterized the two camps in his beloved, breadwinning culture war as "secular progressives like yourself and traditionalists like me." And he couldn't resist trotting out his "stoned slacker" soundbite in reference to the audience demographic watching "The Daily Show" and presumably "Colbert."

On his home turf, O'Reilly attempted to "nail" his mocker by accusing him of having changed the pronunciation of his last name from Colbert with a hard T to the French-sounding Colbert.

At one point O'Reilly awkwardly bellowed, "Are you COL-bert or Col-BEAR?!?" Colbert, who must have been cracking up inside, simply praised his host for the gale-force volume of his question.

During O'Reilly's interview we learned that Colbert's middle name is Tyrone. (Or did we?) Regular viewers already know he regards bears as "giant marauding godless killing machines."

Afterward, he brought in talking heads to ask them why people love Colbert yet loathe O'Reilly, who is regularly named the day's "Worst Person on the World" on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and who is immortalized in such lefty books as "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" by Al Franken (O'Reilly sued in a failed attempt to block distribution of the latter book, which describes him as "a lying, splotchy bully").

One of the heads (Bernard Goldberg, Fox News Analyst) concluded, "We live in a cynical age," therefore "smart-ass wiseguys" are seen as "cutting edge." (Finally.) The anti-O'Reilly concluded his big day by revealing that he had stolen a large microwave oven from the Fox studio.

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, includes my Web site ( on his "Enemies List" (, making me a card-carrying member of the liberal smart-ass wiseguy media.

Posted by John Breneman at 9:04 AM |

January 15, 2007

Bush: Best orator ever?

Critics praise President Bush's
'breathing space' for Iraq speech

By John Breneman

President George W. Bush's historic Jan. 10 call to send more young Americans to their deaths in order to give the Iraqi government some "breathing space" was yet another spellbinding piece of oratory.

But when future generations assess the legacy of our silver-tongued leader, they will look first to several more memorable addresses.

For example, who could forget President Bush's rollicking January 2006 attempt to use standup to make the terrorists stand down, his encore three months later as commander-in-cheek, or his March 2006 pledge that America can only fail in Iraq if we "lose our nerve"?

And, of course, many historians believe the Rev. Martin Luther King's stirring "I have a dream" rhetoric will one day be obscured by Mr. Bush's now-legendary "I think about Iraq every day" speech of June 20, 2005.

Asked what he thought of Dick Cheney's load of bull about the insurgency being in its "last throes" when violence there is actually increasing, the president disarmed the blatantly anti-patriotic question by saying, "I think about Iraq every day -- every single day."

As the world heaved a great sigh of relief to learn that the man who started the war actually finds time to mull it over each day, Bush shoveled on even more reassurance by saying, "I understand we have troops in harm's way…"

Critics said then that Bush's keen understanding of the fact that he is getting people killed "every day" suggested he might be adopting a more realistic view of Iraq than that laid out in his now-historic "Mission Accomplished" address.

The president revealed that not only does he think about his own personal Iraqi hellhole "every single day," he admitted that some days he thinks of it two or three times. Maybe even half a dozen times on Monday after the weekend death toll numbers come in.

A White House memo obtained by IBS News confirmed that some random thought or another about Iraq crept into the president's brain 57 times so far this month alone. Sources say that early on in the war, President Bush occasionally forgot to think about Iraq until Condoleezza Rice gave him a string to wear on his finger.

Fortunately, President Bush also realizes that the fate of the world rests with his ability to not accidentally destroy it, a fact he articulated brilliantly in his memorable Oct. 3, 2004, "Bein' president is hard work" speech.

The hard work can range from pronouncing wacky names like "Abu Ghraib" to deftly fielding trick questions as he did April 14, 2004, in his inspirational "I'm sure something will pop into my head" speech.

Many veteran Bush watchers give the president high marks for his provocative "breathing space" address, but most agree it will be difficult for him to surpass the startling audacity of his March 26, 2004, comic bomb -- the spine-tickling oratory of "Those WMDs must be around here somewhere."

Election 2004 flashback:
-- Aug. 27, 2004

Posted by John Breneman at 2:09 PM |

January 11, 2007

Hate exercise? Hire an exorcist

Hate exercise? Hire an exorcist

By Dr. Newt Trishon

Today's topic: How to shed those unwanted pounds of blubber we all put on during the holidays.

Many noted experts say the secret is diet and exercise.

That's right, some would have you believe you must limit the amount of junk (the official nutritional term is "crap") that you shove into your piehole and ALSO find it within your lethargic soul to engage in some annoying regimen of actual physical activity.

Well, fortunately there are plenty of crackpot alternatives. For example, many people find they just don't have much of an appetite for exercise. For these torpid lard-cans, the answer is simple: Hire an exorcist.

A competent exorcist can be found in the Yellow Pages (under "Satanic consultants"). For a reasonable fee, the exorcist will summon the powers of the underworld to literally "burn those extra pounds away." And, you can eat as much charred flesh of of cloven-hoofed animals as you desire.

There are also surgical options to consider, though it is important to warn you that liposuction is for suckers and gastric bypass is passé.

Instead, try this revolutionary new method described in the January edition of the prestigious Imaginary Journal of Medicine.

It's called a Staple-Gunectomy.

Simply press the loaded staple gun against your abdomen, fix your face in a determined grimace, and fire away. Five or six staples will usually do the trick.

Of course, there are many other valid approaches to "slashing the old spare tire." The Humor Gazette Diet is a proven favorite that has survived the test of time and litigation.
Other new fad diets include:

South Pole Beach Diet: Simply go to the South Pole (be sure to pack a warm parka, some mittens and a 14-inch, whale-flaying knife). Upon arrival, set up your insulated tent on the beach at Point Barrow and just shiver those calories away. Every two months, hunt and kill a small baleen whale. Enjoy.

Fear Factor Diet: Allow yourself nothing but maggots and goat entrails for two weeks. You may eat a little the first day, but studies show your appetite will quickly fade.

Broken Jaw Diet: Simply suffer a broken jaw and have a qualified physician wire your mandible shut. Then utilize an ordinary household straw to consume your meals. Repeat as necessary.

Editor's note: Readers are invited to share diet tips and ideas for "dumping that extra kiloton" in the Comments section below.

Related stories:
The People vs. Ronald McDonald -- July 30, 2002

Ronald McDonald undergoes 'McMakeover' -- June 10, 2005

Tang, sweet Tang -- July 27, 2005

Posted by John Breneman at 9:06 AM |

January 7, 2007

Site plug: "Runway Ready"

Awesome site plug: "Runway Ready"

My gorgeous wife Debbie writes a smokin' fashion blog over at the newspaper where I used to work and she still works, the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald. Visit "Runway Ready" for her fun look at fashion, downtown Portsmouth and the whole pop-culture scene.

Posted by John Breneman at 6:01 PM |

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