Things are looking up for the American Association of Dirty Rotten Bleeding Heart Liberal Secular Humanists. Our membership soared by 66 percent this month when two unindicted libertines, fearing that the Special Prosecutor's gumshoes were about to swoop down on them, joined our little group.
All five of us attend the 1998 Pinko Awards Banquet at the 44th and O Street DaVinci's. We have to pull up an extra chair.
We whisper conspiratorially over our pizza while we gravely deliberate over the 1998 award winners. Our decisions:
Internecine Threat of the Year: Lancaster County GOP Chair Bob Bennie's note in July to 11-term Republican Congressman Doug Bereuter: "The conservative majority has tolerated you long enough."
Nastiest Insult to the U.S.A.: Linda Tripp's July announcement to the rest of us, "I'm you. I'm just like you. I'm an average American. . . ."
Public Education-Private Enterprise Cooperation Award: to Greenbrier High School of Evans, Ga., for giving a one-day suspension in March to senior Mike Cameron for wearing a Pepsi shirt on Coke Day.
We Don't Wanna Go There Award: to Congressman Jon Christensen's fiancee, Tara Dawn Holland, who told the whole state during the primary campaign that "I'm a 25-year-old virgin and proud of it."
Anti-Diversity Award (Smooth-Talking Division): to Congressman Jon Christensen on why he wouldn't appoint a gay to a staff position: "I would not-if I knew someone was a homosexual-I would not be appointing somebody to a position of leadership, because I believe it is important that that person model who I am as a person."
Majesty of Office Award: to Gov. Ben Nelson for declaring Aug. 9-15 "Kool-Aid Week" in Nebraska, then making Kool-Aid the official state bellywash. "Welcome back to Nebraska, your birthplace," he said to a man dressed as a pitcher of Kool-Aid.
BINGO! Award: to Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, for noticing in June that the Christian Coalition is "a partisan political machine hiding behind a stained-glass window."
Different Drummer Award: to Kate Logan, 18, for her commencement speech upon graduating from Long Trail School in Vermont; she spoke of her "journey on a road less traveled," thanked the school for encouraging her individuality, then took off her white graduation gown to finish her speech naked.
"It felt natural," she said later.
Theocracy Lives! Award: to Rep. Dick Armey who in June defended Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's refusal to allow a vote on the confirmation of a gay U.S. ambassador. Armey's justification: "The Bible is very clear on this. Both myself and Sen. Lott believe very strongly in the Bible."
The Truth, Mainly
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition Award: to the Texas legislature for repealing a ban on bringing handguns to church. A Baptist preacher in Houston approved of the repeal by making the startling observation that guns don't kill people, people do. "It's not a trite statement," he said, "if you look at it."
To Hell with Biology, History, Math and All That Award: to an Omaha Christian school board president, Don Lutterman, for his observation last month that school lessons not grounded in the Bible are evil.
Most Vigorous Failed Campaign Award: to Bryon Low-Tax Looper, who in his run for the Tennessee senate found it necessary, according to authorities, to kill his opponent. But to no avail. His opponent's widow was elected.
Christian Fellowship Award: to Bob Jones University for informing a gay grad (and retired minister) that because the Christian school doesn't allow gays on campus, he'll be arrested for trespassing next time he visits his alma mater.
Sauce for the Gander Award: to Rep. Robert Livingston who last week told the NY Times on the occasion of his being outed as an adulterer: "Welcome to the world of Larry Flynt. I just didn't think it possible that he would do what he did." To which Bill Clinton might (but didn't) respond: "Welcome to the world of Ken Starr. I just didn't think it possible that he would do what he did."
The Times They Are A-Changin' Award: to Rep. Henry Hyde, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings defended Ollie North by ridiculing the sanctimony of those who "sermonize about how terrible lying is." Ollie may have stretched the truth a bit, Rep. Hyde said back then, but we shouldn't "label every untruth and every deception an outrage."
Our hearts made glad by Rep. Hyde's compassion for liars, we pay for our pizza, adjourn until next year, and slink off into the darkness. A shadowy figure in the corner follows us out.
He looks a lot like a gumshoe about to swoop down on a libertine.
Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes
to salvage clarity from his confusion.
His column appears on alternate Mondays.