A couple of years ago, when 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 the question a lot. Even the so-called Bush haters are tired of hearing about him. "Oh, fer crissake, Pete!" they complain. "Can't you write something -- anything! -- that isn't about that wet-brain in the White House?" And the people who 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!"
Ooh-la-la! I hear 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 simply 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; I just 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 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 (www.jamesvelvet.com ), 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.
For the record -- I'm sure you're dying to know -- the Angelina Jolie brigade comes in two camps. There's the "Brangelina" camp, which chastises me for "polluting the Internet" with sophomoric diatribes about people who do such wonderful charity work. And 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 and writers." This, indeed, 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 who 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? And that Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, has won it every year in human memory, and that, like all professional sports, it takes forever to finish 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 so upset because some man had too much testosterone in him?" she asked.
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 world around them. 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." Little boys with little toys.
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 896 days, 18 hours, 17 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 Bush -- take your pick.