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Late Night: All You Need Is… a Distraction

"Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC..." (via Flickr)

I probably don’t have to tell anyone who reads this site that the past several months have been kind of difficult in terms of snark.  Between the too-frequent policy disappointments by the Democrats in power and the steady descent of the right wing into craziness so extreme that it’s not quite so funny anymore, there just hasn’t been enough entertainment value amid the bad news — you know, at least something to make you shake your head and smile at the ridiculousness of it all as the world continues its handbasket-borne downward slide.

And that’s why, if you’ll pardon the irony, I say thank goodness for the Catholic church.  The serious issues of its protection of child-abusing priests notwithstanding, at least their unbelievably inept attempts to steer the media away from Pope Ratz‘s role in the scandal have provided some grim amusement.

After cycling through nonsensical excuses such as claiming persecution similar to the Holocaust and blaming homosexuality in general for the crisis within its own ranks, the great mind of the Vatican PR department apparently decided it was time for a shift in tactics — why not, say, align themselves with something positive and generally well-liked, such as motherhood, apple pie, or the Beatles:

At a time when they surely have bigger things to think about, the Vatican’s official newspaper has published a glowing appraisal of the Beatles, calling their music “beautiful” and dismissing their years of drug use and excessive living. On the front page of the L’Osservatore Romano, the paper admits that the band once “said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages, that were possibly even Satanic”, but also asks: “what would pop music have been like without the Beatles?”

I know — how generous of them, huh?  Good thing they weren’t the last ones on the bandwagon or anything.  But as straight lines go, you have to admit this attempt at positive spin is hard to beat.  Not only did it create an opportunity for Ringo Starr to appear on CNN to comment on current events, it gave a perfect setup to comedians like Stephen Colbert (“The Vatican has forgiven the Beatles. That explains why the altar boys are singing ‘Help!'”)… and, not least of all, prompted some observers to note the original words of John Lennon that got his band in such trouble with the Church:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.

I’m sure that wherever he is now, John Lennon is smiling wryly at the Vatican’s inadvertent efforts to make his flippant prediction come true.

But, lest I get too serious, allow me to suggest that there may be a lasting contribution from this passing moment.  Just as “hiking the Appalachian trail” became a popular euphemism among news junkies for referring to marital infidelity, perhaps we will find ourselves saying that someone who’s in deep trouble is due to “express their appreciation for the Beatles.”

I mean, they may be kind of awful at this religion thing, but at least you have to admit the Catholic church has some (accidental) comedic ability to fall back on.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (