The parson spoke today of pity, and urged us to shower it upon the unfortunate with crosses to bear heavier than our own. In my personal reckoning that would momentarily include homos hankering to wed, Mexicans with suspect paper, and some urchins just up the street who are said to be subsisting on donated Post Toasties and refried dirt. No prob to feel sorry for such as those and suppose you’ve done your Christian duty.

But the true demands of the faith are seldom easy, and I’m suspecting what’s expected of me here is pity of a more challenging kind.

All right then--

I feel sorry for O. J. Simpson. He’s been looking for them Real Killers even longer than President Bush has been looking for Osama the Slick. Looking for them in the same place, apparently. He’s searched the rough of every golf course in South Florida. And, by his own account, up under an extraordinary number of skirts. He had to sell his Heisman. Imagine what a genius, what a lover of decency, bought that son-of-a-bitch.

I feel sorry for Rush Limbaugh. Must be tough being hooked on painkillers and Viagra, trying to get it up, get it on and get wasted all at the same time. No wonder his radio jabber has become incoherent. These dittos ever think about getting up an intervention? Would Ann Coulter be toastmistress for it? Would Justice Thomas send regards and enclose a pube?

I feel sorry for Ann Coulter. You might wonder why, with all the fascist adulation and fat appearance fees from podunk institutions that can’t afford it but just have to play the celebrity game. But think about it. Fingering traitors might be fun for the first 100 million of them, but then what? And what if you looked like that? And what if the big thing in your life was lying around fantasizing about taking it up the tailpipe from Joe McCarthy?

I feel sorry for Pastor Ronnie Floyd of Springdale. God told him to run for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, then let some other guy win. What kind of a shabby deal is that? Is God testing him, like Job? Or have these marriage-minded homos that Pastor Ronnie has deplored with such intensity somehow got God’s ear? It passeth understanding why God hangs some of his worthiest out to dry like that, but he’s always done it, and it’s often a pitiful thing.

I feel sorry for President Bush. The man wakes up in the White House every morning, and if he has any sense at all, he’s bound to be thinking, “Holy giant perch!, this is the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth, and I’m the president of it. It’s had George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as president, and now it has me. That can’t be good.” And the next morning and the next it’s Groundhog Day all over again. And the vice president, too, day after day not knowing whether to shoot somebody in the face or tell ’em to bugger off. A classy bunch, yes indeed.

I feel sorry for Governor Huckabee. Not only because he’s such a total dick and probably knows it and yet, because it’s Fate or God’s will or just the way excrement happens, can’t do or be anything different, but also because he now finds himself in the squalid thick of presidential contention, at the moment kissing up to rube Iowans, hoping to convince them that he is every bit as narrow and unintelligent as they are. Which, excluding the usual cynical considerations, he might very well be. And having to bum rides on a Jesus plane to get up there to do the tacky deed, how demeaning must that be.

I feel sorry for Mrs. Kenneth Lay. I didn’t until the president told Larry King that all of us should feel sorry for her loss of Ken, who, OK, sure, might’ve made some mistakes, might’ve set the 21st century record for screwing over unsuspecting people who deserved better. The last I heard from Mrs. Lay, she was claiming she and Ken were “the real victims” of Enron, this related to their having to give back one of their five Colorado ski chalets to appease some angry bagholders gathering with pitchforks and flambeaux. I guess it’s true, us lessers can’t know the agony of losing 20 percent of one’s accustomed ski lodge allotment, so pity is herewith extended.

I feel sorry for Lee Raymond, who recently got the $400 million retirement package from Exxon-Mobil, which considered the amount chickenfeed. To contemporary big oil thinking, asswipe. I feel sorry for Lee Raymond because Happy Caldwell and I both know he’s going to Hell. We know that because it says in the Bible that the big gougers all wind up in the fiery pit, alongside the usurers, whoremongers, scoffers and the plastic surgeons who did Kenny Rogers, Jessica Lange and Jerry Jones.

Lee and Ken will be there, all right, with junior devils forking incessantly and derisively at their empty pokes. This is intended as a kind of payback or rebate to the genuinely pitying but muttering and can’t-help-it royally pissed quick still up top.

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