Dazed and Confused

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 1999

By Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / January 27, 1999

So….. now that the New Year has arrived in all it’s much anticipated glory,I would like to take time to reflect back on the old year, 1998, The Year Of The Bizarre.

This past year must have set some kind of record for Truly Bizarre Stuff, most of which occurred well beyond the control of normal folks like us.

We just sat back and watched it happen, kind of like spectators at a train wreck. It was incredibly interesting on a variety of different levels butwe couldn’t do anything to stop it if we had wanted to. And, believe me,sometimes we wanted to. This leads me to ponder the theory that wedidn’t celebrate the New Year this time as much as party in relief that 1998 was a finally thing of the past.

To illustrate my point I am listing several of the slightly odd things that, taken as a whole, made up the Year Of The Bizarre: We watched a maniacally zealous special prosecutor go to ridiculous lengths and spend a tremendous mountain of our tax money to pursue a philandering president with the determination of a rabid ferret to prove what we already knew. That he has the morals of a hormonal alley cat andcheats on his wife with anything that has a pulse. And would not hesitateto lie to conceal this. The prosecutor cried “Aha! Gotcha!” The presidentsaid, “Who, me?” And the public yawned and said, “So? We hired him to run the country, not be the Pope.” Which brings us to part two of thisparticular aspect of the Year Of The Bizarre.

We then watched the Republican party puff itself up with high pressure self righteousness and begin impeachment proceedings with a grim determination and an absolute belief in their place on the right hand of God that would have made the Spanish Inquisition blush. They told thepublic “Hey, we – being superior beings – know what’s best. We willproceed. Now, hush.” And proceed they did. And then, guess what? It wasdiscovered that several of Their Holinesses were really philandering little creeps just like their target du jour, including the chairman of the lynch mob and the speaker elect. Oops. Dontcha hate it when that happens? Theydo. They weren’t supposed to get caught, after all.There are so many wicked twists to that part of the Year Of The Bizarre that I could go on with it until the cows came home. If I had cows. But I’lljust move along to other stuff. Like…..We watched as our armed forces once again pounded Iraq until it squealed and then heard El Bizarro himself, Saddam Hussein, declare victory over the imperialist aggressors. What planet is this guy from? Watching himfight back was about the same as watching the Olsen twins, Ashley and Mary Kate, duke it out in a tag team match with somebody named Hacksaw and his partner The Torso Crusher. Every time anybody from his sidepeeked out of his hole long enough to shoot back, we blew him to bits. Ittybitty bits. And then after the shooting stopped, his missile batteries tooka couple of potshots at our planes because he said they were “violating his airspace”. Where was he the week before when they were jumping up anddown in his airspace like it was a three dimensional trampoline? Sleeping? Having a week long facial (If he did, it didn’t take) and he just missed it? What a ‘toon this guy is. And a well qualified contributor tothe Year Of The Bizarre.

We also watched a former pro wrestler get himself elected as Governor of Minnesota, defeating two very slick, very professional politicians. Wow.Now, don’t get me wrong. I doubt seriously if Jesse Ventura will do anyworse than a great many people who make the political arena their whole lives. And in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that he will do better thatsome. I just wonder if, the day after the election, the voters up therewoke up and sat on the edge of the bed with their head in their hands and said “Oh, man, what did I DO?” Because, like a questionable decision made just before the bar closes, it might have seemed like a good idea at the time. But the light of day tends to make one second guess the wisdom ofdeciding anything impulsively. Even who you vote for. And finally, we watched as the tobacco industry finally said, “Well, there could, maybe, possibly be a tiny grain of truth to what every scientist, doctor (except for the ones who work for us) and anyone with a lick of sense has been screaming for years. That smoking causes health problems.We’re not really agreeing with that, you understand, but here, take this money.” And they settled for some unbelievable amount. And they willimmediately raise the cost of their product to some point near the gross national income of Romania, so that you, the guy who is addicted to their harmless product, can pay their debt to society. The real winner in thatlittle scenario is the government, who gets to recover some of the healthcare costs involved with tobacco AND gets a hefty tax income from the jacked up prices. Amazing.Well, anyhow, welcome to 1999. The Year Of The Bizarre is history, and wenow have less that one year before the new millenium begins. Hmmmm.Think that’s enough time to get it right?

Lee Dresselhaus is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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