I should have know better than to answer the phone this late on a Friday afternoon. It was my old friend and nemesis, Leon Despair, and he was as usual in no mood to be put on hold or to answer questions about how he got my new number. I get these calls from Leon once or twice a year and I know better than to hang up on him or tell him I’m busy. That will only bring him straight to my door.
He began by inquiring about my health: “Are you out of your mind? What’s come over you?”
I beg your pardon?
“Did you write this column in CounterPunch? It has your name on it.”
Which column would that be?
“This one. Ten Things You Know About Bush.”
Oh. That one.
“Ten things my foot! You don’t know one thing.”
What makes you say that? (What makes ME say THAT?)
And he’s off to the races. “Listen to this crap. ‘We like him,’ it says. What the hell does that mean? Who’s we?”
According to the polls, about 80% of the people like him. Haven’t you heard them talking on TV about how the guy has bonded with America?
“You sound like a damn dope addict. Somebody says something on TV and you go Oh, Wow! and start looking for a pencil. Is that how journalism works?”
Now wait a minute . . .
“You didn’t ask me if I like him. Go ahead, ask me. Here’s the answer — I don’t. Furthermore, I don’t know anybody that likes him. And neither do you.”
Uh, well, not exactly.
“Well, if I don’t know anybody that likes him, and you don’t know anybody that likes him, then who the hell DOES like him?”
Listen, Leon, nobody WE know likes him, but apparently everybody else does, ok?
“Nobody likes him. Name one person who likes him.”
Al Gore says George W. Bush is his commander-in-chief …
“That is so lame. Admit it: nobody likes him. Say it.”
Maybe nobody in particular likes him, but we as a people, in the aggregate, like him. Read the polls…
“Shut up when you’re talking to me, ok? Don’t make me come over there. In the State of the Union, did you hear him say LET’S MAKE THESE TAX CUTS PERMANENT?”
“That meant, LET’S GIVE ANOTHER $254 MILLION TO ENRON. You know anybody who likes that idea?”
“You think Ken Lay even likes him? You think Cheney likes him? You think Colin Powell likes him?”
Condoleeza Rice seems to like him …
“Let me remind you of 10 Things You DON’T Know about Bush, ok? You don’t know how much cocaine he did.”
I don’t know for a fact that he…
“You don’t know when was the last time he did it. You don’t know where he did it. You don’t know who he got it from. You don’t know who he did it with. You don’t know where he was when he was supposed to report for duty in Alabama, and his commanding officer says he never saw him.”
This is old stuff…
“You don’t know whether he ever did any of his roistering with Enron people. You don’t know what he knew about the Taliban leadership being in Sugar Land, Texas in 1997, while he was governor. Did he meet with them?”
I’ve raised that in my columns …
“And who’s behind all this fainting? Everytime you turn around, another one passes out.”
Leon, this is getting …
“Just remember one thing. Nobody liked him in Texas, either. And he defeated Ann Richards. And then even fewer people liked him and he won re-election in a landslide. So who do think the Democrats will put up against him in 2004?”
I don’t know. Probably Gore?
“No way. Nobody likes him.”
The line was dead. Leon was gone again. Not even a “till next time.” He’s that way.
David Vest is a regular writer for CounterPunch, a poet and piano-player for the Pacific Northwest’s hottest blues band, The Cannonballs.
He can be reached at: email@example.com
Visit his website at http://www.mindspring.com/~dcqv