Thursday, October 06, 2005

An Infinity of Possible Gores


AL GORE, renowned intellectual and former everything

Assorted aides, reporters, sycophants and zipperheads

THE SCENE: "We Media" conference, New York, October 5th 2005

[Enter GORE, accompanied by several aides. He is about to mount the podium and deliver his latest jeremiad. A hushed excitement is in the air, as palpable as Lime Jell-O.]

GORE: I wonder what I should entitle this speech when I anthologize it in my next book?

AIDE: How about "More Gore-Bore for Your Press Corps Whores"?

GORE: Heh. Hey, that kind of rhymes.

AIDE: Yes, sir.

GORE: I could get that Jesse Jackson thing going for me. God, how I've dreamed of getting that Jesse Jackson thing going. That Jesse Jackson ... panache, as it were.

AIDE: Yes sir, as it were, sir.

GORE: That would really show that pasty-assed son of a bitch, wouldn't it? "First Black President", phooey. I got your first black president right here, Bill.

AIDE: Sir, remember to zip that back up before you go out there.

GORE: How do I look?

AIDE: Like a bad ice sculpture of Martin Luther King, sir. Now, remember what we told you about the gesticulating. What do we do when we gesticulate?

GORE: [Thinks a moment] Keep my elbows below my shoulders, and don't knock the microphone over. And be careful not to get that Mussolini thing going.

AIDE: Good, sir. And remember - don't leave the podium and approach the audience, because it creeps them out. And if you get excited and start shouting, remember not to open your mouth all the way because it makes your eyes cross.

GORE: Got it, got it. [Deep breath] Well, I've kept History waiting like a horny teenager long enough. Here I go.

[GORE enters the hall and mounts the podium. Wild applause. Various undergarments are thrown, but they are deflected by the chicken-wire security fence.]

GORE: I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger.


GORE: It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions. How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered an alternate universe?

[The lights suddenly intensify, filling the hall with a blinding white glare. The floor seems to sway underfoot. GORE pauses, disoriented. Yamaha Organ "music" swells, then fades as the lights return to normal.]

GORE: Uh ... wow. Did anyone else feel that?

ROD SERLING: Submitted for your approval: Albert Arnold Gore, Junior. An average white middle-brow politician, born and bred in the District of Columbia and propelled to the stellar heights of the American consciousness by his mental prowess and his awesome vanilla mojo. An oratory genius who paints Dali-like landscapes with his tongue. But his latest rhetorical flight is about to make an unscheduled landing in ... The Twilight Zone.

[GORE looks around, confused. Aides pelt him with Little Debbie Granola Snacks to get his attention.]

AIDE: Psst! Sir! Snap out of it!

GORE: Ah, yes. Ahem. As I was saying ... Are we still routinely torturing helpless prisoners, and if so, does it feel right that we as American citizens are not outraged by the practice? And does it feel right to have no ongoing discussion of whether or not this abhorrent, medieval behavior is being carried out in the name of the American people? If the gap between rich and poor is widening steadily and economic stress is mounting for low-income families, why do we seem increasingly apathetic and lethargic in our role as citizens?

[For some reason, nearly everyone in the audience has their hand raised. GORE pauses again, bewildered. Something strange is happening.]

GORE: Um ... On the eve of the nation's decision to invade Iraq, our longest serving senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor asked: "Why is this chamber empty? Why are these halls silent?"

LARRY FLYNT: Excuse me, Mr. President? Mr. President!

GORE: What? What did you say?

LARRY FLYNT: Mr. President, Larry Flynt from the Washington Post. Sir, if the Senate was empty, how do you know Senator Byrd really said this, and if he was talking, how could the halls have been silent?

GORE: Uh ...

ELEANOR CLIFT: Mr. President! MISTER PRESIDENT! Eleanor Clift, Weekly Standard. Did you say "invade Iraq"? When did we decide to invade Iraq? Don't you mean Poland?

[KARL ROVE steps up and leans toward the microphone, shouldering GORE aside.]

KARL ROVE: Of course the president meant to say "our decision to invade Poland". He just misspoke a little. Don't make a big deal out of it, Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Do you know what "freedom of the press" means, Karl?

KARL ROVE: Sure. Do you know what STFU stands for?

GORE: Wait a minute, wait a minute! What's going on here? [To KARL ROVE] What the hell are you doing here? I'm giving a speech. This isn't a press conference. Why are they asking questions?

KARL ROVE: Al, this is a press conference. You didn't overdose on nasal spray again, did you?

GORE: Am I really the president? Of, like, the United States?

KARL ROVE: What do you want, another recount? Get a grip.

GORE: And Tipper is the First Lady?

KARL ROVE: [Puts hand over microphone] Al, honey, you know I love you. But I swear to God, if you call me "Tipper" in public one more time I'm going to slap your mouth right off your face.

GORE: Wait a minute ... you're Tipper?

KARL ROVE: Are you deliberately being a bitch? We'll talk about this at home, now do your stupid press conference.

REPORTER: Mr. President! Mr. President, with the vicious hate-filled right-wing attacks that Hillary Clinton is making on your adminstration every day, do you ever regret creating talk radio?

ANOTHER REPORTER: Mr. President? Mr. President!


YET ANOTHER REPORTER: Mr. President, isn't it true that you're standing behind that podium because you're not wearing any pants?

GORE: [Looking down] Oh, my God.

AIDE: Sir! Sir, wake up!

GORE: Aaagh! Aaagh! Aaagh!

AIDE: It's okay, it's okay. You're okay, you just ---

GORE: What happened?

AIDE: You were reading over your speech and you fell asleep standing up, sir. We've warned you about that.

GORE: My God, I had the most horrible dream.

AIDE: Are you going to be okay, sir? Should we cancel the speech?

GORE: No, no, of course not. It was just a nightmare, that's all. The media conference is counting on me, I can't let them down.

AIDE: Media conference? What media conference? This is the dedication ceremony for the Rush Limbaugh Presidential Library, remember? Are you sure you're okay?


ROD SERLING: An old adage tells us, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." We might add: "Be careful what you fear, because it might come true." If not for you, then for some other you, in some other dimension. An important safety tip from ... The Twilight Zone.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Learning Math with Paul Krugman, Part Two

In the previous installment of Learning Math with Paul Krugman, Professor Krugman showed us how to fudge presidential polling data to make it say whatever we want it to say, so that when we lose we can claim that we were cheated.

It is a paradoxical yet fundamental truth of Mathematics that the larger the numbers are, the easier it is to tamper with them (Zogby's Law). Every good CPA knows that it's much easier to "lose" a million dollars of Walmart's money than it is to cover up a $20 shortfall in an office football pool. Only a true Grandmaster of Fuzzy Math can work successfully with the very small numbers.

Alas, the results are not always guaranteed. Witness Krugman's recent attempt to pretend that the number 5 is the number 3, with an intellectual audacity not seen since Parapsychology adopted Quantum Mechanics. Too bad the shrinking violets at The New York Times' editorial board were unable to appreciate such a bold creative effort, or they would not have printed this jellyfish retraction:
"In describing the results of the ballot study by the group led by The Miami Herald in his column of Aug. 26, Paul Krugman relied on the Herald report, which listed only three hypothetical statewide recounts, two of which went to Al Gore. There was, however, a fourth recount, which would have gone to George W. Bush. In this case, the two stricter-standard recounts went to Mr. Bush. A later study, by a group that included The New York Times, used two methods to count ballots: relying on the judgment of a majority of those examining each ballot, or requiring unanimity. Mr. Gore lost one hypothetical recount on the unanimity basis."

Once again mathematical innovation is stifled by the hobgoblins of tiny philistine minds.