I haven't watched televised political debates since Ross Perot was on there for comic relief, but I understand that a great wave of dismay or horror followed the most recent one — a kind of national disgust triggered by the vapid, puerile questioning that competing presidential candidates were obliged to endure.
The offending questions were tittered up by a couple of the idiot TV celebrities who commonly serve these days as debate moderators or provocateurs. These happened to be from ABC but they're all pretty much the same moron swapping masks. What surprised me was that anybody expected anything different from this imbecile pair. Someone was expecting interrogatory depth? Someone thought there might be substance in the questions this time?
You'd be more likely to find depth and substance, and more sincerity, and less preening, in a ringside interview at a professional rassling match, or in the unctuous banter of the sanctimonii manning the phones at a 700 Club telethon. TV's homeys just don't do deep.
I suspect the venue itself is exhausted, frankly, and still would produce only twaddle even if we turned the questioning over to genuine sages with some rudimentary interviewing skills — SCTV's Johnny LaRue, say, or Mary Hart.
Maybe if we required the candidates to sing and dance through the performance, as American Idol does, or to do dramatic readings, or rope tricks, or charades, then some good might come from the debate exercise. Or at least potential voters might derive from it a defensible reason for preferring one candidate over the others.
As it is, the thing is just a marathon dance, painful all around, to determine which candidate, if any, will reach total irrevocable intolerability last. It'll end only when a fed-up nation takes matters into its own hands.
That's not to say that there aren't any worthwhile questions left to ask the candidates. I've just been trying to think of some so far neglected — questions with a Rexella Van Impe cogency yet without the monumental boringness that seems to just follow Charlie Rose around. Profound, revealing questions like Larry King asks. Or Whoopi Goldberg.
Here are a few that I've come up with so far.
Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Don't you think the answer to a whole lot of these problems besetting our country is more cowbell?
What's that growth on John McCain's cheek that's turning one side of his face into an isosceles triangle?
Could one of y'all find out for me, when Chuck Heston died recently, who'd they get to pry the gun loose? Or did they just leave it?
Should our next vice president be sane, or should we just keep what we've got?
Instead of these dull never-ending debates, how about you guys settling your differences the old-fashioned quick and easy way with a couple of sunrise sandbar duels? And if these media poltroons keep asking insulting questions, call them out too?
Are you the Antichrist, yes or no, and why should we believe you either way?
Final episode of “The Sopranos”?
Who do you think made the more important contribution, Samuel L. Clemens or Roger Clemens?
Do you think Charles Darwin is roasting in Hell this very minute?
From what you've seen and heard tell, is President George W. Bush any smarter in private than he appears to be in public? Or is he actually dumber in private? Or is that even possible?
One of these TV networks has this slogan or motto: “Not reality. Actuality.” So which do you think will be better for America in the long run, reality or actuality? Or some other ality, maybe from another dimension?
How high will the price of gasoline have to go before you start walking places, or hitchhiking, or carrying your lunch to school?
Should these debates have a halftime intermission after which the candidates get to question the questioners? For example, Is that your real hair, twerp?
Would you consider appointing Judge Judy to the U.S. Supreme Court?
How much of this is just an ego trip? Can't you think of a more honorable, more dignified, more satisfying and classier way to waste what time you've got left?
What's with these otherwise sane-seeming guys who somehow just can't resist trolling the Internet for jailbait?
When the sacker asks you paper or plastic, do you express a preference? Do you have even the slightest idea what he's talking about?
Have you ever been abducted by aliens, or had to stand by while they do midnight ray-gun organ removal on one of your cows?
Do you put your step-ins on one leg at a time like regular people?
Could you keep a straight face conducting delicate diplomacy with somebody that you couldn't avoid calling Mr. Pootin'? And do you think that's what they mean by foreign-policy experience?