Video: “Money For Nothing/The Beverly Hillbillies,” Weird Al Yankovic

Frank Zappa once said that government was “the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex,” but that was in the good old days. Nowadays, Presidential campaigns are the in-flight entertainment of the traveling press corps. Bore them and your career is over. Amuse them enough and you just might become President.

There’s Hollywood Fred Thompson, of course, whose schtick is ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ in reverse: He gets the oil money first, and then he does his rabbit-hunting routine. He’s Mr. Drysdale in a Jed Clampett costume. (Do people really take hillbilly kabuki like this Thompson video seriously? There isn’t even any Skynyrd playing in the background. God damn. That’s an insult to rednecks everywhere.)

If Fred Thompson were clothing apparel, he’d be this Ralph Lauren boys’ polo cowboy shirt. And the press corps would declare that he was the genuine article, by Gawd, working cattleman’s clothing straight outta Shepler’s.

But it’s not just Thompson the Machine Candidate, a.k.a. the Duke of Moral Hazard, that’s being crowned “authentic” by the media. In case you missed the memos last month, Mike Huckabee’s the new darling of the stenography set. For confirmation, check out the way the New York Times promotes Huckabee in this video as “one of the funniest Presidential contenders.” (The video is called “Humor on the GOP Trail,” which may explain why it’s only three minutes and 25 seconds long.)

Funny? Really? I challenge you to watch all 3:25 minutes and even crack a smile. Don’t get me wrong, though. Huckabee comes across as an easygoing, likeable guy with a nice style. He’s done a couple of good things as Governor, and if I were looking for a candidate who doesn’t believe in evolution he’d be my guy. He’s the most appealing of the GOP lot – although, as Raymond Chandler would say, “that’s like being the guy in the leper colony with the most fingers.”

But … (they say never start a sentence, much less a paragraph, with “but.” But we make our own rules, sorta like the “Rush Hour” guys.)

But … anyone who’s spent any time in Southern Baptist churches will recognize the kind of preacher who likes to press the “funny” and “folksy” pedals on the electric organ at the same time – that is, when he’s not using it to play “I’ve Got a Mansion Over the Hilltop.” Rev. Huckabee was probably a kindly enough minister to his flock, and I’m sure they enjoyed his sermons, but let’s face it: he’s no Jack Kennedy on the humor front.

So my beef’s not with Huckabee, but with the sudden media-wide consensus that he’s ‘funny’ – a sure sign of press favoritism. But what really disturbs me about the Times video is the patrician way they dismiss their former Golden Boy, John McCain. After showing a couple of his “quips,” they show the joke that failed (him singing “Bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann.”)

McCain’s bad joke isn’t any more or less funny than the supposedly good ones, as far as I can tell. But the message from the media jet set is plain: Stop amusing us and we’ll run you to ground like you’re a jackrabbit and we’re Jed Clampett’s hunting dog.


RJ Eskow

RJ Eskow

RJ Eskow is a musician turned corporate executive and consultant, with public and private sector experience in over 20 countries. Mostly health care and technology - plus, as the old song would have it, "a bit of what you fancy."