"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Pile Driver


[watching my laundry spin,]

Careful what you say about the

pugilist from the provinces:

Jean Chretien, it turns out, is

some sort of hard-ass,


shoulder tough guy. Sort of like

John Wayne, say, except for the

fact that he's able to pull off

the toughness thing even when

the other guy hasn't been

trained by some Uta Hagen

protégé to fall down on cue.

"When Canadians speak of the

'Shawinigan handshake,'" The New

York Times explained recently,

"they are referring to the time

the prime minister literally

wrung the neck of a protester

who got too close to him at a

Flag Day rally in Ottawa."


Chretien was born in Shawinigan;

you have just read an example of

Canadian humor.


During an interview for the same

story, the Times reporter asked

the Canadian prime minister if

he still had the strength to

fight off political challenges;

Chretien invited his

interviewer, and anyone else who

doubted his stamina, "to race

him up the stairs at

Parliament." Back on the other

side of the international

border, much has been made of

the purportedly stunning,

come-from-behind gubernatorial

victory of Jesse "The Body"

Ventura in Minnesota early this

month - notwithstanding the fact

that he was running against the

likes of Hubert Humphrey III, a

politician who must have been at

least as exciting as his old

man. Favorite smarty-pants,

wouldn't-it-be-special pundit

premise: Will the former

professional wrestler one day

dare to pin the electoral

college? (And can the 25th

amendment be triggered by a

ringside tag?)


[cheered by the direct contrast of my loads, ]

But the politician now known by a

little-opposed self-

proclamation as Jesse "The Mind"

Ventura will have a tough battle

if he tries to sit his large

frame behind the big desk in the

Oval Office. It's even a

familiar battle, straight out of

Saturday Night TNT: Another

major figure from the world of

pro wrestling has thrown his hat

in the general direction of the

ring. Ted "The Out of His Mind"

Turner purportedly let slip to a

crowd recently that he was

pretty close to being done with

the number-two spot at Time

Warner, and ready to move up to

number one. Not, understand, to

number one at Time Warner: In

comments reported this week by

The New Yorker, the classics

movie librarian hinted that he

wants to maybe give the whole

running-the-country thing a try.


A Turner-Ventura showdown - even

if The Rumble in New Hampshire

doesn't have a slight ring to it

- would be way, way too good to

ever really happen, but the

vague plausibility of the

scenario is more than enough to

produce tidal waves of giddiness

around the luxurious Suck

offices. What could possibly

come of all this toughness and

bluster? Could having our very

own Chretien enable our dollar

to earn a cool nickname like

"the loonie"?


We're putting our money on the

man from Atlanta. A Turner

presidency, we note, would

almost certainly make the

Shawinigan handshake look like a

pat on the back - and it would

give ex-LAPD Generalisimo

Daryl Gates a chance to get back

into uniform. Quite a few of us

hang on to the image of that kid

in front of the tank in

Tiananmen Square, for example,

but we tend to think of the kid

as the hero of the piece. Not

so, apparently. Visiting Beijing

back in 1990, while the matter

was a bit more fresh, the man

who colorized It's a Wonderful

Life threw flowers to the poor

unfortunates behind the heavy

armor. The daily newspaper in

Turner's hometown, the

Journal-Constitution, reported

his Governor Reagan-style



BEIJING - Cable television
magnate Ted Turner said
Thursday that Chinese student
demonstrators "were breaking
the law" and that the
government "felt forced" to
launch a military assault last
year on unarmed civilians in
Tiananmen Square, killing
hundreds ...

"Whatever we are
trying to accomplish, we would
accomplish more by saying that
a tragedy has occurred in the
world and we bleed in our
hearts for the students and
others who were killed and
hurt, but we also bleed for
those in the government and
those soldiers who felt they
were forced to take that
action," Mr. Turner said.

"You catch more flies with
honey than vinegar," he said.


Of course, you catch even more

flies with shit. Take cable

television, for example. What

Turner forgot to mention,

incidentally, was that foreign

news organizations were

forbidden by the Chinese

government from recording and

reporting the aggressive

official response to the

Tiananmen protests. But a spunky

little outfit known as the Cable

News Network - owned and founded

by The Out of His Mind - defied

the order, and broadcast live

images of the crackdown. In

defiance of the law. The good

folks at the

Journal-Constitution, bless

their hearts, saw fit to point

this out, but Turner

nevertheless escaped Beijing

without being asked to accept

his fair punishment as part of a

criminal enterprise.


[one black,
one white]

When he got around to

apologizing, a few days later,

Turner had a few mea culpas

banked up for a single

withdrawal; he was also sorry

for calling Christianity, which

seems to involve large numbers

of people who vote in

presidential elections, "a

religion for losers." (Between

Ted Turner and Dennis Rodman,

it's getting pretty close to

impossible to figure out what to

believe in - but at least we

have Madonna.)


Turner's explanation was

delightfully free of any actual

explaining. "I was just making a

talk off the cuff when that just

popped out, and I feel very

sorry for it." It just popped

out from where, Ted?


More recently, Turner topped the

telling nature of his

apologies-that-weren't with an

apology-that-was, for CNN's

story on the so-called Tailwind

mission - conceding that his

news channel's nerve gas

allegations weren't demonstrably

true. The report, the owner of

the Atlanta Braves allowed, was

the "most horrible thing that

has ever happened to me." And

how horrible is that? Pretty

horrible: Worse than "the death

of my father." Worse than "the

failure of two marriages." Worse

than "losing to the Yankees in

the World Series after being up

by two games."


[spin in unison ]

Embarrassing, sure - but in a

surprisingly appropriate way,

for a guy who says he wants to

live in the White House. Public

humiliation and narcissistic,

self-pitying apologies would

appear to be key elements of the

contemporary presidency.


Speaking of key elements of the

contemporary presidency, forget

about threats and inspections

under President Turner. Assuming

he could keep his wife from

visiting Baghdad, a Turner

presidency would put an end to

this long retreat-and-return

thing with Iraq: Here's a man

who knows how to handle an

enemy. Take Rupert Murdoch, a

known foreigner whose media

outlets spread deadly gas across

the globe with far more

efficiency than any

swagger-stick-toting head of

state; at a cable industry trade

show earlier this year, Turner

let the maritally afflicted

mediocrity peddler have it with

both barrels: "Capone made a lot

of money, too, you know," Turner

helpfully explained. "I don't

remember, though, whether

Capone's wife left him.

Sixty-seven is no time to be



Saddam? Can't even get laid,

man. And that concludes my

statement to the Security



But Iraq isn't the only trouble

spot in the world-according-

to-Uncle-Sam, and the no-"you"-are

put-down wouldn't be the only

tool in Turner's kit; a guy who

lords it over a big American

wrestling show should also have

no difficulty restoring our

relationship with Iran.


The other exciting development

in the recent elections happened

well south of Minnesota, where a

pair of Southern politicians

managed to lose their father's

Skull and Bones patois to win

gubernatorial elections in a

couple of not-very-preppie

states. The good news is that

Turner is ready to duplicate the

Bush legacy, just as Jeb and the

other George get it started:

There's a Teddy Turner, and he's

into the whole serving-the-

public thing; Ted Jr. serves

with his four siblings on the

board of directors of dad's

environmental foundation. Now if

someone can just find him a

state to run, the legacy can



And we're ready for the legacy

to begin. In the last few days,

following his


an-announcement, Turner has

begun to elucidate his vision

for reforming the social order -

and the ideas are exciting.

Goodwill isn't just a game; the

media's cable cowboy is a real

cowboy, too, working to improve

the lot of the humble bison. His

herd stands at 17,000 - watched

over (and remember that legacy

thing) by a thirtysomething

named Teddy. "We're bringing

back an animal that evolved here

in North America," the elder

Turner explained to a reporter

last week, "and they're just

terrific and beautiful."


Turner's idea for preserving the

bison's numbers: Sell them for

food, giving us all an incentive

- economic and gustatory - to

support the remaining herd. "So

it's really a good thing for the

bison," he explains, "except for

those unlucky few bulls that

draw the short straw when the

time comes to ground them up."


An interesting idea, Mr.

President - maybe Social

Security can be saved.

courtesy of Ambrose Beers

[Purchase the Suck Book here]