Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

News from a galaxy far, far away



Page 2 of 3

Down here, the news is ever so much meatier. The U.S. Senate – possibly the world’s best argument against an elected senate – brought the nation to the brink of nuclear option. In California, the state legislators were bandying about their own nuclear threats over Gov Ahrnie’s budget power grab.

Now, I’m as fond of hyperbole as the next guy. And having grown up in the state that gave birth to the nuclear bomb, I’ve frequented my fair share of bars and restaurants whose names invoked atomic this, nuclear that and whose signs were shaped like mushroom clouds.

But this new fixation on using nuclear as an adjective has me wondering. The most benign explanation is that it’s a not-so-subtle attempt to use the word more frequently in public discourse. The hope, I imagine, is that if George Bush hears it said enough he’ll finally realize it’s not pronounced "nuculer", something even his wife has taken to joking about.

The part of me prone to scanning the skies for black helicopters ponders a more sinister motive. Used often enough and in the wrong context, any word tends to lose its impact and meaning. The spectre of things nuclear is diminished if the word can be used to describe such mundane things as changes to procedural rules.

Having been branded co-partners in the Axis of Evil, Iran and North Korea watched, in some relief, as the U.S. invaded the only member of the Evil Empire who, it turns out, didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. So they both ramped up their efforts to produce atomic weapons, a step I’m sure seemed to make sense to the bizarre collection of Mullahs and dictators-for-life running those countries.

The U.S., on the other hand, has come to realize even the most powerful army in the universe is relatively ineffective against loosely organized terrorists. Iraq’s looking like the opening chapter in another Hundred Years War and the volunteer army is beginning to look less voluntary. What to do if the pursuit of homeland security means opening one or two more fronts? Oh hell, just roll out the nuclear option. How bad can it be? The Senate survived.

But as fascinating – and infuriating – as all this posturing is, the real news in America, the burning question on the left and right AM talk radio no news none of the time, is this: Is the evil Sith lord really a thinly-disguised George Bush? Or is Darth Vader, originally inspired by Dick "I’m not a crook" Nixon, actually supposed to represent him?