A Nation at War

Gridiron Roast: One Night of Honesty A Year
by Steve Young

Steve Young

March 13, 2006 /HOLLYWOOD (apj.us)/ While Jon Stewart and his "Daily Show" roasts those in power (or the power wannabes) four days a week, it is the Washington Press Corps once-a-year Gridiron Roast that allows the powerful to roast themselves.

The members of The Gridiron Club, Washington's most prestigious journalistic organization, represent major newspapers, news services, news magazines and broadcast networks, but it is only one night a year that they represent the truth. And they need to hide behind humor to admit it.

Top politicos, including the President, show up for the Gridiron Roast every year, wearing bull-eyes that even Dick Cheney couldn't miss.

The result of this past week's (upper and lower) GI revealed once and for all that Washington already knew their cancer was malignant. And as any decent satirist knows, the tumor grows in the writing... and the truth.

"He knows not what he has wrought" might have been the only virtue-saving excuse President Bush has had for his buffoon-aliscious five year trip(s) through his 1¼ terms. But after the self-acknowledgment that is the annual roast, that rationalization explodes like Halliburton's profits.

When pointing out new Cabinet members the President turned to Vice President Dick Cheney, asking, "Dick, maybe you can point them out to me."

Funny? Yes. Honest? Even more so.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) compared the Bush's administration's treatment of US allies over the Iraq war to the NCAA basketball tournament. "Sixty-four teams start and they're whittled down to just one. Kind of reminds me of what we've done with our allies." Bush followed by calling Richardson and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) "a couple of independent thinkers, which in my book is a negative."

Yuks? Naaah... yucks.

But what the Roast exposes more than the culpability of politicians, is the hypocrisy of the press. For it the Washington Press Corps itself, less perhaps Helen Thomas and David Gregory, that rarely calls the White House on the carpet for the jokes they've hoisted on the public year round.

Journalists performed too. A Karl Rove impersonator sang about his turning Bush into a president. "He looked smug, he looked dim. How we gonna win with him?"

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was taken to task for his part in the Iraq war. "Rummy, have you some spare Teflon coating that we could wear?" the press, dressed as soldiers, sang to the tune of "Mister Sandman." "You said we'd win Iraq with ease, Mr. Rumsfeld, we need Humvees."

All right, dead soldiers, all together now, "Stop, you're killing me."

That the truth comes out under the camouflage of satire rather than through press conferences and headlines is a tragedy. Perhaps it's just timing, for as any decent satirist knows, the great humor formula is Tragedy + Time = Comedy. The shame is that Washington has decided that the "time" is only once a year.

Steve Young is a Senior Fellow at the Extreme Far Centrist Foundation' Political Husbandry Conservation Centre and Stereo Repair. In his spare time, he is also an author, comedy writer, columnist, LA talk show host and author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful."(What? You STILL haven't bought it? Then visit http://www.greatfailure.com/). You can also check out the satirical side of Steve more than once a year — in fact, every Sunday in the LA Daily News.

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Copyright © 2005, Steve Young. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Copyright © 2005, 1996-2004, American Politics Journal Publications, Inc.
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