Copyrighted material


by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

This was the year that satire has changed the politics forever. Let me say that again. Satire has changed the 2008 race and politics forever. I said it again because that's pretty much the title of my book -- "How Satire Changed 2008 and Politics Forever" -- that I should have finished on inaugural day 2009. Besides disqualifying me from moderating the next debate, it defines the foremost difference between this election and any other.

Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Andy Borowitz, David Letterman. They've all played their part with immense help from the candidates.

But no one of them is more amusing than Fox's top clown, Bill O'Reilly. Just hearing him say how objective he is. How he has no horse in this race. How it's those (other) conservative talkers are the liars. Funny stuff. But this week he dealt out a sketch that would have had Saturday Night Live writers green with absurdist jealousy, finding pure Factor comedy magic as at the same time Bill made sure that the microscopical last iota of any credibility that might have hidden somewhere under his immense ego and incivility, surely and embarrassingly, left the building. And he did it with panache.

Abbott and Costello were sent spinning in their "Slowly, I turned" graves as Bill brought Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank on the TV Factor for what quickly became an attack on Frank. Why the Congressman continues to show up for these Fox farces is beyond me, but at least it proves the guy is not intimidated by O'Reilly.

It was supposed to be a discussion of Frank's handling of the financial crisis in his position as co-chairman of the House Banking Committee. Discussion quickly became, "Jerry Springer."

Frank began to explain how it all worked legislatively. O'Reilly started yelling, "Stop the b.s. here!" "Stop the crap!" "Come on, you coward!"

To Frank's credit, he was able to get in that O'Reilly is "boorish." "I'm not going to be bullied by your ranting," and "this is why your stupidity gets in the way of rational discussion." O'Reilly screamed, "This is bull!"

Frank hit back with, "This manly stuff is very unbecoming from you," and "You think toughness is yelling and ranting and raving and trying to bully."

Bill went Professor Backwards as he played a soundbite where Frank said that Fannie May and Freddie Mac were not good investments which Bill used to support his contention that Frank said it was a good investment. Frank admonished: "You distort consistently."

"That's a joke," yelled Bill.

Frank returned the ball and scored: "The joke was to think that I could have a rational discussion with you."

If you had a funny bone in your body, by this time you had to be on the floor by this time. "You don't listen at all," declared Frank. "Maybe you do listen but you're too dumb to understand."

And finally Bill admitted what we've all know for quite a while: "I'm the dumb guy," said Bill to Frank. "You're the brilliant guy."

Ah, the funniest comedy is always in the truth.

P.S. Add to O'Reilly's Comedy Q: The big guy predicted that the anti-liberal comedy, "An American Carol" (where Bill has a cameo) would open at $14 million. That would have placed it third, behind "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and "Eagle Eye." Surprise, surprise. The film's first weekend gross came in at #9 with $3.8 million, just ahead of Bill Maher's documentary, "Religulous." Maher's film, however, had a per-screen average three times higher than "An American Carol."

Guess the Folks weren't ready for your closeup, Mr. D'Bill.

Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" ( and blogs at

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor   October 3, 2008   (

All Rights Reserved.

Contact for permission to use in any format.