Monday, July 07, 2003

SNL to HBO to MNF to RNC: Next stop—Reno lounge act

They say politics makes strange bedfellows and here is exhibit A:

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) A new voice has emerged in the re-election campaign of President Bush, that of Dennis Miller, who is gaining a reputation as a conservative comic by attacking Democrats with biting humor.

Miller flew on Air Force One from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the president on Friday, and later gave a stand-up routine at a Bush fund-raiser in Los Angeles.

"I spent an amazing couple of hours with Dennis Miller," Bush said during his Los Angeles speech after Miller's routine. "He keeps you on your toes."…

Miller, who was an analyst on ABC's "Monday Night Football, had an HBO comedy show and does commentary for Fox News, adds a celebrity touch to Bush's re-election campaign, much like actor Bruce Willis did in 1992 when Bush's father ran for re-election.

Bush remained offstage until after Miller's often caustic comic performance during the fund-raiser that drew in $3.5 million, most of it in $2,000 checks from 1,600 people.

For instance, he took aim at West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democratic elder statesmen who has questioned the Iraq war and its chaotic aftermath.

Even some in the crowd of Republican loyalists booed when Miller said of Byrd: "I think he must be burning the cross at both ends."

Responding to the boos, Miller said: "Well, he was in the (Ku Klux) Klan. Boo me, but he was in the Klan."...

He had a special barb for one candidate, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has questioned the Iraq war, comparing him to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who followed a policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany in the years before World War II.

"He can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearms, he's never going anywhere," Miller.

“Stop it, Dennis. You’re just slaying me with the historical reference humor! You’re just so much damn smarter than those other comics.”

I know it came on past his bedtime, but I wonder if anyone told Bush that on Dennis Miller’s HBO show his typical rant wouldn’t have made it past one of the internet filters Bush wants in libraries? Now we all know Bush’s personal language isn’t always in keeping with the pious image he wants to project, but can you imagine, say Bush, Miller and Gary Bauer sitting around Hooters, knocking back a few brewskies and rating the waitresses?

I wonder how the Christian Right views Dubya’s new favorite comedian? I mean, this is a crowd that thinks some of Jeff Foxworthy’s, “You might be red-neck if…” routines are a little risqué. Don’t alienate the base!

An interesting marriage, to say the least. Miller used to be the “hip” one on SNL—no small accomplishment. I don’t know that he was ever necessarily progressive, however. Sucked in by the Perot magic in 1992, and now latched onto to Bush’s perceived juggernaut, one gets the impression Miller may have always just wanted to hang out with the popular kids. Oh sure, he had the cool hair and the quick wit, but one imagines that while he mocked the teacher behind her back, when alone with her he kissed her ass. Over the years, Miller seemed to work a little too hard to cultivate a rebellious persona.

Now excuse me if I go off on a rant here, but an angry, shallow diatribe is not a sign of a deep and thoughtful guy, no matter how much he referred to the thesaurus when carefully crafting his uncontrolled verbal rage. Miller has what seems to be a floating anger disorder, waiting for something to briefly light on so he can show you he’s more disgusted than you are. Like the kid in college who thinks talking about “dark” topics makes him deep, Miller hones his “anger” for effect. Not to say anger can’t be funny, but give me Lewis Black any day. Miller’s brand of anger is more fitting for Fox News. I’m glad they found each other.

Bush seems thrilled that one of the hip former long-hairs thinks he’s cool, too, although I bet Miller took it easy with the big words during their two wonderful hours together. Personally, I’m hoping Dennis Miller does for George Bush what he did for Monday Night Football. Or at least what Bruce Willis did for papa in 1992.

By the way, do you think the Republican crowd took offense at Bird being besmirched or the Klan?

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