Appall-o-Meter

Dave Mulcahey

Harsh Toke! 3.9

In March, thirtysomething go-getter Chris Hill was named one of the 500 Businessman of 2001 by the National Republican Congressional Committee. According to a report by the News-Journal wire service, that put the Florida manufacturer in the running for Republican of the Year.

Problem is, Hill is a drug-paraphernalia kingpin. In fact, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison after his marijuana pipes were discovered in an Iowa raid. GOP officials were understandably surprised by the news, and they promise to strip Hill of his dignities if the charges stick. But Hill is showing himself to be a party man through and through. Im not going to make pipes again, he complained. Im embarrassed that my government has put me in this position. Theyve lumped me in with some liberal longhaired dopers. Thats not the kind of crowd I run with.

Naming Rights 3.1

Shes big, shes hard, she really gets around, and shes often full of murky goo. Shes Condoleeza Rice. Or, she was until her corporate owners decided shed be better off traveling under the moniker Altair Voyager. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Chevron honchos judged it a little unseemlywith all the recent hubbub about energy boodlingto have one of their oil tankers named after a Bush administration consigliere. Hence the switch.

Make A Joyful Noise 4.6

At times, ours seems not so much an empire as a backwoods freak show. John Ashcroft, our snake-handling Draco, has been known to anoint himself with Mazola chrism, in the Old Testament fashion, when sworn into office. Now, according to a report in the Guardian, he has taken to leading hymn sessions at office meetings, where Department of Justice lawyers are encouraged to join in renditions of Ashcrofts own compositions. One such, Let the Eagle Soarin which our nations mascot is shown to soar like shes never soared before, from rocky coast to golden shorehas particularly rankled staffers handicapped with taste and sensibility. Have you heard the song? a department lawyer anonymously complained. It really sucks.

The Return of Tricky Dick? 5.1

Editors of the Quaker Campus, the school newspaper of Whittier College in California, are outraged to discover that their office was bugged. A maintenance man found the electronic eavesdropping device behind the couch around which editorial meetings customarily take place. There are no suspects or leads, the paper reports, nor can anybody think of even a plausible motive. But the device is sophisticated, and the way it was placed suggests that a professional was involved. Surprisingly, no one has ventured the obvious paranormal explanation: a visit by the specter of Whittiers most famous alumnusDick Nixon, class of 1934.

Dave Mulcahey, a former managing editor of The Baffler, wrote In These Times’ monthly Appallo-o-meter” feature for nearly 10 years, until the fall of 2009.
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