I had a hard time getting to sleep the other night, so I went into the living room to watch a little late-night television. As I hoped, it was so stupid that it helped put me to sleep. Then, sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up, or think I woke up, to an infomercial. I still can’t be sure if it was real or not, if you can ever use the word “real” in conjunction with an infomercial.

But here is what I saw, or think I saw: George W. Bush filled the screen, intoning in sanctimonious tones, “I’m not just the President, I’m a member of the Hair Club for Bald-Faced Liars. Join to get the help of our panel of cover-up experts. You, too, can learn to tell bald-faced whoppers with a straight face. If you crack a smile, learn how to make it seem folksy and friendly, even if you are trying hard to suppress your own snickering and sneering at the thought that anyone would believe the crap you’re tossing out.”

I shook my head; could this be the secret of political success? I’d always thought that it was membership in the Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society, but maybe not.

Bush went on: “For example, just the other day I was giving a speech, and I said with conviction that I still believe we need to privatize part of Social Security. I told them how the return for retirement would be higher, and they could pass it on to their children.”

What was he saying? This sounded like one of his typical sound bites.

He went on: “Can you imagine anyone believing that? With the millions that Enron workers lost in retirement income? If I really believed that, I’d be admitting stupidity! With the economy in crisis, with the stock market tepid at best, who could believe that load of garbage? But thanks to the spin-doctors at the Hair Club for Bald-Faced Liars, I was able to keep from dissolving into giggles.” Bush smiled his slightly loopy smile.

“Why would anyone pass on non-existent profits from the stock market to their kids? Like the old Billy Preston song says, ‘Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’!’ How could anyone think I really care about those little people? Privatizing part of Social Security would just make more money from commissions for all the big brokerages, who charge commission to buy stock for you, charge commission to trade stock for you, and when your stock crashes, charge another commission to sell it for way less than you paid in the first place! Of course, I can’t say that; I have to wrap reality in a slick, glossy cover-up. That’s why I’m a member; that’s how I got to be President!”

“Dick Cheney is a member, too! How else could he claim that we’re reasserting executive privilege as an excuse not to turn over information about his meetings with Enron officials? Of course, Dick hasn’t been a member for as long as I have, so he has to disappear from sight now and again to get a treatment.”

I squinted my eyes, then rubbed them. Was this a dream? Is Dubya really a crude late-night huckster, selling phony sincerity like a vegetable chopper salesman, like a make-a-million-in-real-estate con man? Would he next start to demonstrate an abominable abdominal contraption?

“Don’t send any money, unless you have millions to give, in which case you already have my number. Just give me your apathy, your confusion, your misplaced trust. Just keep sending more members of the Hair Club for Bald-Faced Liars to Congress. It’s all part of our simple plan.”

About that time I must have drifted off again, lulled by the soothing tones, the bland face and the lack of any ideas that made sense. When I woke up the next morning, I had an ache in my neck, an ache in my head, an ache in my heart and a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Bad TV had helped me sleep that previous night, but for many nights afterward, I couldn’t sleep at all – I kept watching all night long to try and see that infomercial again. I wondered if it was a dream, or a nightmare, or that anchovy pizza I’d eaten.

I even watched Bush on some cable news reports, and his voice sounded the same. His speech was filled with bald-faced lies, like saying he was interested in what U.S. allies had to say, like expressing concern for those hurt by the economy, like pretending determination when he talks about the billions of dollars of boondoggle he’s proposing for increases for the military making us safer. If a military response to terrorism was a solution, Israel would have been the safest place on earth decades ago!

So if you see that infomercial, let me know. I want to send away for their kit, so someday I can steal an election, too!

Marc Brodine is the chair of the Communist Party in Washington State.

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