A couple of generations ago, comedian Charlie Weaver's public persona was that of a somewhat inebriated aging performer. He didn't play out skits so much as gently tell amusing stories of the old days. They had the ring of truth. One involved live radio, before tape delays or pre-recording. The Lone Ranger was a special favorite for kids and their parents. Families gathered around the large radio and listened to "those thrilling days of yesteryear." Every week the Lone Ranger rode again.
The signature ending was an actor wondering "Who was that masked man?" To which another would respond, dramatically, "You don't know who that is? Why ... that's the Lone Ranger!" According to Charlie Weaver, a new and somewhat nervous actor was substituted in that concluding role at the last minute. The director was a bit of a tyrant and was frustrated at the pedantic delivery of that important line. So he got in the poor actor's face. "Say it with respect! Say it with AWE! SAY IT AS IF YOU WERE IN THE PRESENCE of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!"
So, of course, at the dramatic moment, on live radio, the cue came. "Who was that masked man?" To which the anxious new guy blurted "You don't know who that is? Why ....... that's Herbert Hoover!"
Last week, John McCain made headlines by seeming to confuse the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, with someone or something from Latin America, perhaps the Zapatistas, a revolutionary group in Mexico. It was during a telephone interview, and it was clear that the connection was not the best, at least on McCain's end. At one point, as the interviewer tried to clarify, "In Europe," McCain shouted "My what?"
He could not hear, or forgot the new head of Spain, or just got confused. No big deal. He could have just pointed out the connection was bad and made a little joke of it. But the prickly, chip on the shoulder, can't make a mistake personality of McCain came forth, absurdly insisting he really meant that he will refuse to meet the leader of part of President Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq. Spain is now to be an enemy of freedom.
Really: Spain? Spain...
Look. Anyone can get a bad connection. Anyone can forget. It takes a brittle temperament to insist on being incapable of even minor, even obvious error.
Hi Ho Silver.
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