Confederacy of Idiots

In which our man Durst defends poor George W. after the favored son’s poor showing on various tests of his intellectual eptitude. Who really expects the Shrub to know anything about foreign policy, anyway?

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Hey everybody, guess what? On the way to a coronation, an election broke out. Content with the campaign stick-shift stuck in neutral, coasting downhill on his way to a roomful of balloons in Philadelphia, George W. Bush Jr. hit a few minor speed bumps the size of Montana. First he froze like a yellow rose in liquid nitrogen when some smarty-pants Boston reporter asked him to name the leaders of Taiwan, Chechnya, Pakistan, and India. Tough questions even for the citizens of those countries, much less a good ol’ boy with the same grasp of foreign affairs that, say, a Vietnamese pot bellied pig has of price-to-earnings ratios. It’s like asking Cindy Crawford about metal shop, or Bill Clinton about scruples.

And couldn’t you just imagine Al Gore in the back of the classroom desperately waving his hand: “Ooh, ooh, ask me. I know, teacher. Ask me!” One critic said “Bush is running for president, not trying to become a contestant on ‘Jeopardy.'” Which may be the whole problem in a nutshell. We’re looking in the wrong place for our candidates. What we need is Alex Trebek’s Tournament of Champions Reunion mailing list.

Then an anonymous source at Yale released what is purported to be Bush’s college transcripts, showing the candidate had grades not much higher than a bucket of hair would have received (had the bucket attended classes). But I don’t see what the problem is here. Our smartest President was Jimmy Carter, a nuclear scientist, and look what happened there.

And finally, Pizza Hut, of all people, asked the whole slew of candidates what their favorite book was when they were growing up, and the Texas Governor cited one that wasn’t published until the year after he graduated from Yale. Proving exactly what we’ve suspected all along. An undergraduate degree from Yale lays the perfect groundwork for reading children’s books. “I think I can, I think I can, I think … oh, maybe not. Rutherford, is there more Vermouth?” That must be what they do in that secret Skull and Bones society Georgie and his Dad belonged to. Organize a bunch of reading circles in which the semester assignment is to get through the entire “Madeleine” milieu.

Nine out of 10 historians agree, Reagan picked George Bush Sr. in an effort to appear presidential by comparison, and in turn, Bush had to scrape the bottom of the barrel with a 36-inch X-acto knife to come up with Quayle. If George W. is indeed destined for an August balloon inundation, who the hell could he possibly choose for a veep? Wally Cox is dead. Barney Fife was a fictional character. And Mr. Bean isn’t a citizen.

And think of poor Dan Quayle. Probably holed up somewhere laughing his dumb ass off. Or dumbe asse off. And you know the other guys are all canceling gigs like a drummer with Hepatitis B after a week in Amsterdam, cramming for the same kind of third degree Bush received.

But let’s be fair. Shouldn’t the subjects each candidate is grilled on be as arcane as foreign policy was to George W.? Just turn the debates into a TV quiz show and call it, “So You Want To Be The Guy Millionaires Suck Up To.”

Steve Forbes: Name the four top-selling brands of motor oil.

Al Gore: List these four Beastie Boy albums in order of release beginning with the most recent:

  • “Paul’s Boutique”
  • “License to Ill”
  • “Check Your Head”
  • “Hello Nasty”

Pat Buchanan: Name four countries in Africa (and South Africa can’t be one of them.)

Bill Bradley: Name all five Spice Girls.

John McCain: Name the winners of the World Series from 1968 through 1973.

Donald Trump: What are the names of your children?

Will Durst wonders if they’re feeling confident. The Durst Case Scenario appears every week on the MoJo Wire, except when it doesn’t.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

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