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Friday Night Political Football
Paul Corrigan
22 April 2001

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but tonight I'd like to take a step back and evaluate the former Saturday Night Live comic genius that now makes HBO the home of his rants. And, if we have time, I'd also like to talk about Dennis Miller.

Dennis Miller, you are no Chris Rock.

Now, the rap on Dennis Miller is that he's arrogant, self absorbed, only interested in proving he's ten times smarter than the average American, and that you need a speed-reader with his fingers on a thesaurus and the Encyclopedia Britannica to decipher half his jokes. Hey, what does an audience full of submissive couch potatoes sitting home on a Friday night at 11 p.m. want from a comedian? Miller gives the faithful what they want, a caustic know-it-all who tears down his targets so the crowd sitting at home can feel better about themselves. The real problem with Miller is that he has no core beliefs. Miller is to comedians like Lenny Bruce and Chris Rock what Wonder Bread is to an H & H bagel.

Miller took over his spot on HBO with the promise that the network would give him free rein. Miller's free when it comes to saying the word "fuck" and wearing a pair of Levi's under his blue blazer. Of course, that makes him about as free as your average parochial school student out at recess for a half-hour. Where Rock continuously challenges the status quo, Miller polices what he says like a presidential candidate running for office while trying to get equal support from the right and left. Miller could be all four of Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect guests on the same night. Miller needs to walk the yellow-brick road and get down on his knees and beg the Wizard for some "fuck'in" courage.

You can't talk about Miller without addressing the strange discourse that spurts out from between his lips like methane gas from the rear lips of a camel. It's not just what he says it is how long he takes to say it. When the words in Miller's throat see their colleagues heading up to his lips, they warn the stomach that it will be at least two days before any food will have a chance to get in.

Miller's obscure historical and cultural references are what make him distinct. Miller may be smart, but he's not smart enough to know that he is selling his soul and buying the devil's ticket. Miller is sliding down Dante's Inferno faster than a wet ass riding a chute at Water Country.

When Miller tells his audience that "Bush had the foresight to surround himself with smart people the way a hole surrounds itself with a doughnut" he is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Miller plays to the left and to the ego of his audience by calling Bush dumb. He plays to the right by calling Bush effective.

Miller hits the ball down the middle of the fairway like a member of the country club hitting from the red tees at the tenth hole after having a martini at the break. He plays it safe. How about this Millerism: "Bush ran on a pledge to improve education, and I believe he's going to pull it off. By the year 2012, the average high school senior should be able to name the capitals of all 45 states that haven't yet been flooded by the melted polar ice caps." Miller turns the double play quicker than Tinker, Evers, and Chance.

Nothing is safer for Miller than using his Holy Trinity to get a laugh; vulgarity, sex and slamming Bill Clinton: "Now, arguably the only thing this president has in common with our last president is the completely unabashed, unapologetic affinity for drilling the shit out of everything on the planet." Miller's Clinton bashing should put him in line for an award from the right-wing zealots at Free Republic for "Sportscaster of the Year."

The sail on Miller's ship has veered starboard ever since he was promoted to the dais on Monday Night Football. Much of Monday Night Football's audience, so turned off by Miller's past blasts at the Christian Right and their perception that he was a left-winger, promoted Rush Limbaugh in his stead. Like Mike Barnicle, who thinks the right is right now that the Boston Globe dumped him and the most conservative media (talk radio) has adopted him, Miller is playing to the male-dominated Monday Night Football demographics that overwhelmingly support Bush.

I enjoy Miller's humor, no matter the target. I laughed when Miller said that the Chinese didn't want Jesse Jackson coming to China to negotiate the release of the crewman because the country was already overpopulated. What pisses me off is that Miller doesn't realize that the thought of Jackson getting credit for bringing home American hostages sends chills up the spines of the Bush inner-circle more intense than if they watched Linda Blair's head spin 360 degrees and spit pea soup at a priest that looks like Phil Esposito. And they would do almost anything to keep him from getting that chance. That's the difference between Chris Rock and Dennis Miller.

I was hoping Miller's love affair with Bush was the result of some repressed adolescent affinity for a word he identified with the patch of hair just north of the female genitalia. Or maybe Miller was trying to bring Dana Carvey, and his imitation of George Herbert Walker Bush, back from a wasteland so vast its beyond T.S. Eliot's imagination. I was wrong.

"You simply cannot blame George W. Bush for not being able to let you have it both ways," says Miller. Why would a guy who can have it both ways blame anyone?

"Truth be told, I like the fact that President Bush is not slick, that he mangles the English language. I prefer a guy in there who knows what he wants to say but can't quite say it, instead of someone who is very eloquent about promises he has no intention of keeping. So far, Bush has kept his pledge to the American people. He's surrounded himself with the best minds in Washington, restored civility to the Oval Office, and made it clear that this is an administration that believes in big business and a strong military, while working like a motherfucker on that 1.6-trillion-dollar tax cut he guaranteed us last year. Now you may not like these promises he's keeping, but maybe, in the end, what this country needs, above all else, is someone who just keeps his word . . ."

Truth be told, when it comes to politics Dennis Miller has more in common with a Pet Rock than a Chris Rock.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

[Editor's Note: We recycle. Portions of the above were lifted in part from Mr. Miller.]

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