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Subs Bring Holiday Shrill

by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

It's Christmas break, which means it's time for the big "Holiday Fill-in and Best Of" week, an annual rite of talk radio that provides listeners with old news and new voices. The lamest thing about the "Best Of"' show is that fans could always get them from the show archives if they cared enough -- and non-fans aren't listening anyway. The alternative is the fill-in host, usually big-fish, small-pond regional talkers performing a coarse imitation of the regular host.

In the case of O'Reilly, he always leaves instructions for the substitute teacher to direct the folks to Factor Gear, as well as reminding them to buy Bill's "The Factor For Kids" book. Even when he's on vacation, Bill's thinking of you and how parents would never want to miss the opportunity to buy their kid a book on how to live a moral life written by a man who sexually harassed a younger employee.

Since O'Reilly's favorite fill-in, John Gibson, has pretty much imploded, the next most abrasive syndicate-sub is Mark Levin. Mark Levin is Michael Savage with a law degree, though much more angry and nasal. "The Great(ing) One" hosts his own show at WABC in New York and steps in regularly as guest-host for Hannity. To say "Hate-radio" was made for Levin is like saying a tuxedo was made for James Bond -- always a perfect fit. He likes to insult callers with clever labels like "moron" or "puke" or "putz." Levin fans would say that I (liberals) had no sense of humor. Not true; I'm just not sure whether "moron" is funnier than "puke." Than again, "putz" may be the funniest of them all. Even great comedy is so subjective.

He likes to call into Hannity's show to maliciously attack or belittle a caller or guest. "Shut up and maybe you'll learn something" is one of his favorite segues, which Sean has since commandeered. In the middle of one debate Sean and I were having, Levin called in to ask me who I voted for in the 2000 election. I said, "Gore," and he zinged me with "I thought so." Then he hung up. Wow, did I "learn something" or what?!

"Get off the phone, you big dope," is another clever Levin catchphrase which he throws outs just before he hangs up on a liberal. A liberal who was obviously afraid to intelligently debate the issues that Levin shrieks.

On the last day before Christmas, Levin subbed for Hannity and showed that his spirit of the holidays wasn't damaged during the War on the Christmas™ as he went through a litany of humiliating references to those left of Limbaugh that he doesn't care for. Barbara Boxer is "Stretch" because of all her cosmetic surgery. Howard Dean was admonished for his drinking. But the best of all is his clever turn on the junior senator from New York. He called her Hillary "Rotten" Clinton. Did you see what he did? He changed the name Rodham into Rotten because it not only sounds like Rodham, but also says she's rotten, which I'm not sure what he means by that, though it probably has something to do with food going bad. Deft political satire is such a difficult get. Garsh. It's like Levin is channeling Mort Sahl.

We can only hope that one day Sean will talk his syndicator to pick up Levin nationally. That way the entire country won't have to wait Ôtil the holidays to share the mirth and heart of The Great(ing) One. Until then we'll have to just make do with scratching our fingers across a blackboard.

Steve Young, author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" tried to get someone to fill in for today's column, but couldn't find anyone less proficient

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Albion Monitor December 21, 2005 (

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