now, by popular request....
by Mad Dog
don’t need autographed photos, they have their own popularity
rating system, and it’s not based on how many interns are under
their desk, how many lobbyists fly them to fancy resorts, or how
many Buddhists give them money for their campaign. No, they get
Life is a popularity contest. Oprah won. Michael Jordan won.
And Harry Potter, well, there’s no question he’s this month’s
big winner. We like popularity, that’s why we read magazines like People
and Us and watch the E! Network. That’s also why we take
the phone off the hook so we can watch “Survivor” and “Big
Brother”, TV shows which are not only popular but about being
popular, their whole premise being that you want to be so popular
you walk away with the big bucks instead of being a loser we laugh
at because you were ostracized. It’s like high school, except back
then you didn’t get to vote people out. Well, not unless you were
a cheerleader or a member of the football team, anyway.
How do we gauge popularity?
By how many friends we have? How many times your cell phone rings in
a restaurant? How much money you make? A few years ago I thought I
knew the answer. I discovered a company called Autographed
Collectibles which sold signed photographs. By comparing the prices
charged it was easy to tell who was more popular. I knew it was a
good indicator since it was based on free enterprise, capitalism,
and greed, the cornerstones of our country. Besides, while they sold
photographs of models, sports figures, and Hollywood stars there
wasn’t a politician to be found. Obviously they understood
Politician’s don’t need
autographed photos, they have their own popularity rating system,
and it’s not based on how many interns are under their desk, how
many lobbyists fly them to fancy resorts, or how many Buddhists give
them money for their campaign. No, they get votes. If they’re
popular they receive a lot of them and are elected. If they’re not
they have to continue working in that crappy law firm and raking in
millions. It’s a tough life.
If I lived in
New Jersey I’d tell Jon Corzine to hand me $100 cash, give the
other $42 to charity, and in return I’d go into the voting booth
and pull his lever, which contrary to how it sounds has nothing to
do with same sex marriages.
The problem is that they can buy popularity. Jon Corzine of
New Jersey recently spent a record $35 million to win the U.S.
Senate primary. This isn’t the actual seat, mind you, it’s just
the opportunity to run as a Democrat. Like that’s a big honor. He
received 246,936 votes, which means it cost him $142 per vote. His
opponent, Jim Florio, spent a measly $13.90 per vote. This proves
that in politics, as with toilet paper, you get what you pay for.
And in the end, of course, both are full of crap.
Enticing votes and buying
them are two different things. In the recent Mexican presidential
election the Institutional Revolutionary Party enticed voters by
having male strippers perform at some rallies. Sure their candidate
lost, but that doesn’t mean we can’t envision George W. Bush on
a platform surrounded by Chippendale dancers, does it? Okay, so it
does. Still, it seems to me that if they’re going to buy their
popularity, politicians should at least be more direct about it. If
I lived in New Jersey I’d tell Jon Corzine to hand me $100 cash,
give the other $42 to charity, and in return I’d go into the
voting booth and pull his lever, which contrary to how it sounds has
nothing to do with same sex marriages.
But nowadays we have a
better way to gauge popularity: media coverage. This makes Elián
Gonzalez is one popular guy. In fact, he’s the most popular
non-politician since O.J. Simpson. Believe it or not, that cute
Cuban cherub got more news coverage than the Columbine High School
shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing, the death of Princess Diana,
and John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crash, and he didn’t even have
to kill anyone to do it. Using that same yardstick, Kennedy was more
popular than his father. Immediately after junior’s death the
three major newsweeklies ran 79 pages of coverage; they only ran 53
pages after his slacker father’s death. And they say it’s hard
to fill your father’s shoes.
We’d watch them on “Change of Heart”, where Chris
Jagger would send them on dates with different vice-presidential
candidates to see if they want to stay together or have a change of
Not surprisingly, even bug-gulping people on lame TV shows
are more popular than politicians. Every Thursday morning the
non-survivors from “Survivor” are featured on two segments on
“The Early Show.” Meanwhile presidential candidates George W.
Bush and Al Gore get an average of 39 seconds of local coverage a
night, which is a whopping five minutes of exposure a week.
Considering that the average American spends 28 minutes having sex,
even if they only have it once a week (I can dream, can’t I?) that
means the candidates are about one-sixth as popular as sex. Of
course it’s true that either way you’re getting screwed.
In light of this is it any
wonder the networks are broadcasting more hours of “Big Brother”
over the course of a week than they are the Republican and
Democratic conventions? Or that Judge Judy was close on the heels of
Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole in a recent Ladies’ Home
Journal survey about who should be the first female president?
If the politicians were
smart they’d quit buying their popularity and start going after it
the old fashioned way—by competing for it. They’d agree to be
locked up in a hotel suite with thirty-four cameras watching their
every move so we could go online and cast our vote for who stays and
who goes. They’d go to a deserted island—or at least Long
Island—and eat rats, not being told whether they were their
campaign managers or not. We’d watch them on “Change of
Heart”, where Chris Jagger would send them on dates with other
vice-presidential candidates to see if they want to stay together or
have a change of heart. And they could appear on a newly revamped
Fox show called “Who Wants To Be Screwed By A
Multi-millionaire”? Then again, maybe they should just wire
transfer some money into my bank account and I can read a book
Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while waiting for your vote check to arrive.