Friday, April 29, 2005

Rummy and His Superfriends



Choose your caption:
  • Rumsfeld meets with top Pentagon advisors
  • The latest Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony
  • Preparing for Dubya's birthday party
  • Well, this explains the Iraq war plan
  • Rummy preps "normal citizens" for Bush town hall meeting
  • "Sure, web slinging is cool, but behold the power of my mighty gesticulations!"
  • Don forgets all about the White House Halloween party
  • "I don't have time for this, Mr. President. I've got a war to run, remember?"
  • Rummy tells 'em the one about the Iraq exit strategy
  • Captain America, Captain Arachnid and Captain A... well, you get the idea
  • "You may have been cleared by the Army, Mr. Secretary, but we have some questions of our own about Abu Ghraib."
  • Gravitas, gravitas, gravitas

Sinners in the Hands of a Right-Wing God

My radio reception is bad. Really bad. I get a handful of FM stations and only one on the AM dial. So, whenever I tire of listening to REO Speedwagon and Billy Squire "hits," I'm forced into the world of Dr. Laura and, of course, Rush Limbaugh.

And so it was, after struggling through one and a half songs of an Eagles "Fourplay" Wednesday afternoon, that I happened to catch Rush going off on a bizarre rant about religion. He has conveniently put a transcript of this tirade on his website under the charming title, "Why Liberals Fear Religious People."

You can tell just from that title what Rush is up to. To him, the left is a godless horde. He uses the terms "liberal," "leftist" and "secularist" interchangeably: "those of you on the left, you secular people" is his mantra. And what sends all liberals into the icy embrace of atheism? Fear. According to Rush, there is "a total lack of understanding and a fear that is felt, quivering in corners, folks, these liberals do when they start, you know, imagining the strength of faith."

Now, I've listened to Rush Limbaugh enough to know that he's not stupid. He's certainly aware that 92% of Americans profess a belief in God (the poll was taken by Fox News, after all). And the financial calculations required in his (alleged) attempt to avoid SEC scrutiny in order to support his prescription drug habit shows that he can handle basic math, too. So he must be capable of figuring out that even if every last atheist in the electorate voted for John Kerry in 2004, that still leaves a whopping 83.54% of Democratic voters who believe in God. (Want me to show my math? Click here.)

Again, Rush isn't stupid; he's just disingenuous. His attitude seems to be, "What I believe isn't important; what really matters is what I can get you to believe" (and in this sense, he's really no different from the Michael Moore's of the world). And what he wants to get people to believe is that liberals are hell-bound atheists who call their pet cats "mongrels" (yes, he actually says this), and that God votes Republican.

To Rush, the only kind of religion that deserves to be called by that name is politically conservative. He takes his vicious slander against moderates and leftists (and against all serious religious people, by the way) and uses it to make some predictable—if bizarre—points. By way of illustration:
If there's no God it means who's supreme? Human beings. Human beings are supreme. Human beings set the rules, not some Bible, not some unseen force that says what's right and wrong. That's not for them, humans do this, humans decide, the humans decide.... So humans are the focal point of everything. That's where global warming comes from. We have the power to destroy the earth. We didn't create it. We couldn't create it. We couldn't cause global warming, but we couldn't stop global warming but to them we can cause it.
This is about par for the course as far as global warming denial is concerned. According to this "logic" we didn't create the world, therefore we can't destroy it. Of course! And I'm incapable of chopping down a tree because I didn't create that, right?

He goes on to attack those who want a separation of church and state by referencing the Everson v. Board of Education Supreme Court case from 1947:
I guarantee all of you secularists and leftists out there, you would have hated America just as much prior to the time when the Supreme Court in 1947 ruled that there's a wall of separation between church and state. Do you know that's the first time that it was actually ruled? We think that it's in the Constitution, a wall of separation and it's not there. There's no such thing. This is another example of how the Constitution has been bastardized by liberalism.
If you didn't know better, you might think that the concept of the separation of church and state is a 20th Century idea. Rush specifically keys in on the phrase "wall of separation," either unaware or, much more likely, confident that his listenership is unaware, that it has its origins in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802.

It's easy to simply say that Rush Limbaugh is a blowhard from whom we should expect such nonsense. This is true, but to stop there ignores a deeper problem: the left has essentially let people like Rush frame the religious debate in the public sphere. They have successfully defined those on the left as America-hating libertines wholly lacking in moral values, which are the sole property of pious right-wingers—God's new chosen people. It's time for religious liberals to fight back with a vigorous defense of their theology and their sense of moral values. (To read a much expanded post on this topic, click here.) It's also important for atheists and agnostics to fight back against the insipid suggestion that they don't believe because they fear faith and are therefore incapable of having a moral foundation.

Rush ends his rant with this nugget of wisdom:
I mean what would you rather have faith in, you know, God or yourself? You need both, but, you know, the people that only have faith in themselves and their fellow human beings, imagine the dismal, miserable existence that is. If you only have faith in your fellow human beings and you look around the news every day what are our fellow human beings doing to each other? It's not a pretty sight.
Yes, when I look around, especially on the AM dial, I can almost see what he means.
(bc)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

From Kidman to a Kid, Man!

OK, Katie Holmes isn't exactly a kid at 26, but she was not even five years-old when her new beau, Tom Cruise, became world-famous for his star turn in Risky Business. Perhaps Cruise, now 42, is simply trying to entice some impressionable youths into the Scientology fold.

Either that, or he's yet another Hollywood knucklehead who's incapable of relating to women in his own age bracket. (I can hear his agent now: "Hey, at least he's relating to women!")

There's something distinctly unsettling about people who end up dating stars whom they could have idolized as kids (yes, I'm looking at you, Kate Hudson, and anyone who has ever been married to Rod Stewart).

Update: Eeeew!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Few 'Good Men' too Many

Trouble is brewing for yet another high-level Bush nominee. This time it's John Bolton, Bush's pick for ambassador to the United Nations. The nomination has been delayed in Senate committee amidst revelations that Bolton has essentially been caught planting a severed finger in the chili of foreign (not to mention interoffice) relations.

As usual, Bush is standing by his man. (Who would have imagined back in 1992 when Hillary Clinton made her emphatic denial that it would end up being George W. Bush who most resembles Tammy Wynette?) Speaking to a group of insurance agents on Thursday, Bush called Bolton "a good man." After all we've learned over the past several days, it's clear that the only people who are going to buy this were shopping for it in the first place.

Bush went on to say, "John's distinguished career and service to our nation demonstrates [sic] he is the right man at the right time." Should we trust the President's judgement of Bolton's character? I wonder how he has fared in the past.

How about a trip down memory lane:

  • Bush on torture enabler Alberto Gonzales, last week: "I've had this good man by my side for quite a while. When I was the governor of Texas, we worked together.... And now as the President of these United States, I'm proud to serve with Al Gonzales as our Attorney General."

  • On Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December, 2004 after the Abu Ghraib abuses came to light: "He's doing a really fine job." And, "I know Secretary Rumsfeld's heart ... He's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

  • On lying, philandering Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik, in December, 2004: "His ... experience makes Bernie superbly qualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security." And in October, 2003: "Bernie, you're a good man."

  • And one for good measure—After CIA Director George Tenet's resignation in June, 2004 to "spend more time with his family": "He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people."
Jeez. Flannery O'Connor should have been so lucky.

What at first glance appears to be loyalty quickly reveals itself as mulishness. This is perfectly in keeping with a President who would rather French kiss Michael Moore than ever admit to making a mistake or having to revise a strategy. We have a huge surplus? Let's have tax cuts! The surplus has become a huge deficit? I know what might work, the same damn tax cuts! My choice for UN ambassador has a long history of physically and emotionally abusing underlings? Uh, sounds like just the kind of guy we need.

It seems that the Bush administration is always so gung-ho about Plan A because it is arrogant enough not to have bothered to come up with a Plan B. Look for Bolton to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the end of the week.
(bc)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Camel Through a Needle's Eye

According to a news story on Yahoo about hand-held electronic organizers favored by the rich and nauseating:
Orthopedists say they are seeing an increasing number of patients with ... a condition known as "overuse syndrome" or "BlackBerry thumb." In some patients, the disability has become severe.
Related ailments include "cash-stuffed wallet ass" and "beluga caviar dyspepsia." Doctors recommend plenty of rest on top of a pile of money.

And here I am, a working stiff, stuck with a condition known as "hotdog fingers."

Friday, April 22, 2005

The PTC's 'Sham' Scam

The Parents Television Council is back in the pulpit, preaching the same tired sermon about protecting children from sex, violence and foul language on the boob tube (just don't say "boob" tube on TV or the PTC will sic the FCC on you). This cadre of moralistic prigs, headed by shrill right-winger L. Brent Bozell III, has released a new "study" called "The Ratings Sham," which claims that the v-chip and the TV ratings system are failures (numb your brain: click here to read a pdf of the whole study).

The study found that "most television programs showing foul language, violence, and inappropriate sexual dialogue or situations do not use the appropriate content descriptors that would warn parents about the presence of offensive content." In typical PTC fashion, this loaded sentence begs more questions than it answers. What constitutes "foul" language? What is the difference between "inappropriate" and "appropriate" sexual dialogue? And who defines what is "offensive content"?

As you might expect, the PTC is the sole arbiter of fact in its own study, so the results are made to order. They break "foul language" into two categories: "one for milder expletives, such as 'ass,' 'bitch,' 'bastard,' etc., the other for obscenities and bleeped language." That's right, bleeped language counts the same as obscenities. What the *bleep* is that about?

As for "inappropriate sexual dialogue," apparently that means anything that brings a blush to Brent Bozell's tender cheek. One example cited in the full report is "inappropriate" simply because it mentions two boys kissing (a kiss that it is obvious never happened, by the way). It always pays to remember what base the PTC is pandering to.

Having outlined their extremely narrow criteria, the study finds that, lo and behold, TV is a hotbed of sin, vileness and raunchy man-on-man action. "If parents cannot understand the arbitrary way in which the networks rate their shows and cannot trust the V-chip to block shows because of the lack of content descriptors," says Bozell, "they are powerless to decipher what is suitable for their children." If only there was some sort of device that parents could use to protect their children. Alas!

Anyone who has followed the slithering path of the PTC will be unsurprised by one conclusion they draw: "The FCC must continue to crack down on broadcasters who violate common-sense decency laws." Nothing too outrageous there, particularly since the FCC has a history of telling the PTC where to stick it. Unfortunately, the FCC's new chairman was hand-picked by the PTC particularly because he favors just such a crack-down.

The most outrageous aspect of all of this is that the PTC goes to great lengths to claim that they're non-partisan when even the most cursory examination reveals that they're a pro-censorship, far-right group deeply informed by, and indebted to, the conservative Christian movement in this country. They manipulate people into buying their snake oil with their appeal to people worried about the damaged psyches of innocent children. They work very hard at trying to appear normal and mainstream, which is probably the best indication that they're not.

Of course, I'm not an advocate of exploiting children, but I see a great danger in the PTC's ultimate goal, which is to make everything on television suitable for kids (and not just any kids; good, Christian kids). Bozell and the PTC like to believe that they're strong advocates of good parenting, but never do they suggest the easiest solution to this problem: watch TV with your kids; take an active role in their viewing rather than use the TV as a babysitter. Parents are only "powerless" so long as they bury their heads in the sand or let groups like the PTC do their parenting for them.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Simpleton Life

What with all the turmoil at the Vatican and the continuing struggle for Iraq's fledgling democracy, it's nice to finally see some real news come across the wires.

Yes, Paris Hilton has severed ties with her junkie pop-star-spawn friend, Nicole Richie. The uncharacteristically closed-lipped Hilton had only this to say: "Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I'm ever going to say about it."

Wow. Richie must have done something truly horrible, like release the phone numbers and email address of all of her rich and famous friends to the general public. Maybe it's because Richie lost a bunch of weight at the same time that Hilton put a bit of much-needed meat on her anorexic frame. Either way, one thing is for sure: life will never be, dare I say, so simple again.

Rumor has it that Kimberly Stewart, the spoiled rich-kid daughter of Rod Stewart, will replace Richie on The Simple Life. Given her lineage, Stewart is, of course, a bit difficult to look at. Paris must have looked high and low to find a ditzy blonde who could never out-prettify her, and, given that the PowerGirls skanks are otherwise disposed, I am impressed with her choice.

Who can argue that Paris Hilton is not destined to thrive in the harsh (and occassionally green-tinted) glare of the spotlight? I only shudder to think what the world stands to lose when Paris inevitably gives up the party circuit to take over the reins of her father's hotel empire.
(bc)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Holy Crap!



Meet the new Pope.

Frinking the Unfrinkable

Heaving a sigh that makes even the Comic Book Guy seem cheerful, I am forced to admit what's been clear for quite a while now: It's time for The Simpsons to call it quits.

What was once TV's funniest and most intelligent show has completed its slow slide into a crass, unfunny embarrassment, with each new episode only tarnishing its once golden image. There was a time when I would have been all gloyven at the prospect of an episode featuring Professor Frink, but when I learned about the premise of Sunday's show, my first thought was, "How are they going to ruin this character, too?"

The episode turned out to be a tepid rip-off of a gem from the sixth season in which we flash forward to Lisa's wedding in the year 2010. A device that originally showcased the writers' creativity serves, ten years later, only to emphasize its decay. I'm sure that I was not alone in wishing that they had devoted the entire half-hour to "Vice President Cletus." (They should really consider doing a Cletus and Brandine spin-off, especially since their real-life versions have a reality series beginning in less than a month.)

I guess Harvard ain't what it used to be. Like the august university that still supplies many Simpsons writers, the show is both complacent and condescending; so content in being an institution that it lacks the capacity to show that it still deserves to be.

It's hard to pinpoint when the show began its decline, but I turned in my alt.nerd.obsessive credentials as soon as I stopped religiously taping every episode in the late 90s. To my mind, the last truly outstanding Simpsons episode was "Behind the Laughter," which aired in May, 2000. There have been plenty of decent episodes since, but a new Simpsons aesthetic was slowly taking over.

Perhaps in response to the rise of South Park, the Simpsons has become increasingly violent and graphic over the past five or six years to the point where the show has been stripped of its heart-this buffer against cynicism was always its secret weapon. As the characters become increasingly inhuman and inhumane, the show finds itself in violation of Krusty the Klown's axiom on comedy: It only works if the sap's got dignity.

Yet the Simpsons franchise trudges onward, creeping ever closer to the mythical "X-Files Frontier"—that point where a once-brilliant program is dragged out to the point that it has sucked longer than it was good. The one future event we didn't see on Sunday's broadcast was all of us sitting there watching the 25th season, trying in vain to convince our children that the Simpsons was truly great, back in the long, long ago.

Canceling the Simpsons may seem like euthanizing the family dog, but at this stage it's far better to think the unthinkable than to go on watching the unwatchable. It doesn't embiggen me to say it, but the Simpsons isn't a perfectly cromulent show anymore. It's just not cromulent at all.
(bc)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rob Thomas in Deep 'Dudu'?

While flipping between C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 the other day, I happened to pause for a moment on MTV where I caught a snippet of the new single from ex-Matchbox 20 frontman and Santana collaborator (and I use that term as the French did in 1946) Rob Thomas. As I listened to the sing-songy chorus, it dawned on me that I'd heard it somewhere before.

I lived in Istanbul for a while during 2003-2004 and I learned a couple of things: first, cars will not stop for pedestrians; and second, Tarkan is God. While Tarkan may be virtually unknown in the US, this Turkish pop sensation is the Michael Jackson (minus the child molestation) of his home country.

When I arrived in Turkey in 2003, Tarkan had just released a new single called "Dudu" and for the next six months, the strains of this song were literally unavoidable. When I heard Thomas's new song, "Lonely No More," on MTV, I realized that the chorus bears a suspiciously strong resemblance to Tarkan's opus.

Upon further research, I found that the refrain in "Lonely No More" isn't just similar to "Dudu," it's exactly the same. (Update: By "refrain," I mean approximately the last 10 seconds of each clip, not the whole thing. I included the rest of the music to establish the context: i.e., these are ostensibly different songs that share one part that is strikingly similar.)

First listen to a sample from "Lonely No More." (Requires RealPlayer)

Now compare it to Tarkan's "Dudu." (If you're having trouble downloading these files, right click and "Save Target As" to your desktop. Then open the file with RealPlayer.)

There's no question that they're the same.

As far as I know, Rob Thomas is credited with writing "Lonely No More" all by his lonesome (an email to Atlantic Records requesting more info has thus far gone unanswered). "Dudu" was written by Tarkan and Jeff Koplan.

All of this means one of three things: Rob Thomas is a plagiarist, his song is an homage to Tarkan (and what could be cooler than that?) or both Thomas and Tarkan were using a melody that's in the public domain. If it's the former, then Thomas is in deep "Dudu." If it's either of the latter, then it exposes Thomas as shockingly (ok, predictably) unoriginal.
(bc)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Family-Friendly Message from the PTC

The Parents Television Council isn't just out to save our children's tender minds; they want to save their souls as well.

The PTC claims on its website to be "nonpartisan," but subscribers to their mailing list can't be faulted if they get a slightly different impression. The most recent missive is essentially an advertisement for the PTC Store, a one-stop shop for "family friendly and socially responsible" gifts. The mailing list email focuses on their selection of personalized holiday gifts. And what are the holidays they zero in on? Why, Mother's Day, First Communion and Confirmation, of course.

Now, there's nothing wrong with any of these special days (and who doesn't want a First Communion Teddy Bear or a Precious Moments Confirmation Figurine?), but the selection is a bit weird. I guess the Bar Mitzvah gifts are just on a page I haven't clicked on yet and the Eid al-Adha page must still be under construction.

A quick look at the PTC advisory board (welcome to the club, Connie Sellecca!) shows that the Christian end of the spectrum is amply represented. There are apparently no Muslims on the board, but film critic Michael Medved—known for, amongst other things, his defense of The Passion of the Christ against charges of anti-Semitism—is there to represent the Jews.

With such diverse leadership, it is almost inconceivable that the non-partisan PTC would actually be suggesting that a good family is by definition a Christian family. Inconceivable. (You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Time to Ask, Tell

Last Thursday, the AP reported the story of Sgt. Robert Stout, a decorated soldier from the 9th Engineer Battalion fighting in Iraq. The openly gay Stout wants a chance to continue to serve his country without having to lie about who he is. The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which forbids openly gay soldiers from serving, will likely result in Stout's discharge from the Army.

The official policy holds that homosexuals create "an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability." The story of Sgt. Stout, who says he is out to most of the 9th Engineer Battalion, suggests otherwise. According to the AP write-up, Stout "was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May." That's a far cry from the stereotype of the mincing queen copping feels in foxholes. It looks like Stout conducted himself exactly like—surprise, surprise—any other soldier.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a half-assed (so to speak) policy brought on by President Clinton's inability to live up to his campaign promises, is doomed, just like policies barring minorities and women from the armed forces were (both of these policies used the same argument that "justifies" DADT now). The only question is when it will fall. All indications are that now is as good a time as any for the US to join the 24 nations—including Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Israel—that allow openly gay people to serve in the military.

As the military struggles to meet recruitment goals, it is increasingly indefensible to allow the discharge of thousands of skilled troops because of bigotry and homophobia. The military's anti-gay policy puts America at greater risk abroad and at home (click here to read how DADT purged dozens of Arabic and Farsi translators both before and after 9/11, even as the official investigation into the terror attacks listed an insufficient number of translators as one of its causes).

It will be interesting to see how Sgt. Stout's case will be handled, just as it will be interesting to gauge the reaction to prominent Republican consultant Arthur J. Finkelstein's recent marriage to his male partner of 40 years. Perhaps this is an opportunity for conservatives to actually stand up for the conservative ideal that the government should judge people on their merits, not the details of their private lives. (bc)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Intellectual Honesty is for Suckers

The only people who are at all surprised that the Republicans were in fact behind the callous Terri Schiavo memo seem to be Republicans. Are they that naive? It's blindingly obvious that GOP efforts on behalf of Schaivo were disingenuous and politically motivated. The fact that someone from their side of the aisle was actually foolish enough to put it in writing hardly multiplies their crime.

For the record, the memo, which was written by an aide for Senator Martinez, calls the Schiavo tragedy "a great political issue" and notes that "the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue." Well, duh! If you needed this memo to confirm what the Republicans were up to, then you're beyond hope already.

Some on the left are reveling in their chance to rub this in the faces of right-wing pundits and bloggers who were all in a lather (or should I say 'Rather'?) over what they assumed to be yet another document forged by Democrats. I don't really see the point of this exercise. The bug-eyed screamers—both on the left and on the right—are singularly incapable of learning anything from their mistakes and misstatements, so all this does is add to the din.

The partisan rancor over this memo, even after its provenance has been proven, is yet another sad reminder that the marketplace of ideas has devolved into a five-and-dime store where honesty is the last vestige of a fool.

As Martinez scrambles to cover his ass by claiming that the distribution of the memo was inadvertent, some conservative bloggers are doing damage control of their own. Witness the bitter, defensive non-apology apologies that have been posted on Powerline and Right Pundit.

Full marks to Joshua Claybourn for posting an actual retraction.
(bc)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Idiot Box

A nation's darkest fear and deepest wish realized.

House Republican to FCC: Drop Dead

Now that the right-wing Harry Potter heads the FCC, ready and willing to do the Parents Television Council's bidding, the workings of a nascent nanny state seem to be in place. Apparently this is not enough for one House Republican.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner III (R-Wis.) told the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. that "criminal prosecution would be a more efficient way to enforce the indecency regulations." He is quoted as saying, "I'd prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process."

So, let me get this straight: we need to circumvent the regulatory process in order to enforce the regulations? Makes sense. Censorship alone is not enough; let's throw the bastards in jail!

I didn't think it could be done, but Sensenbrenner has actually come up with something that makes the PTC look positively benign in comparison. Look for the PTC to join forces with Sensenbrenner in the near future. If they can't get the censorship—oops, I mean justice—they want from the FCC, then to hell with them! Democracy in action.

Update: PTC president L. Brent Bozell III has issued a statement disagreeing with Sensenbrenner's plan. "We at the Parents Television Council," Bozell writes, "believe that the existing broadcast decency law is sufficient to address the issue, so long as the law is consistently enforced." Vaguely encouraging.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hollywood Oil for Food Program

The UN Oil for Food program lies in tatters. American demand for foreign crude is at an all-time high. Instead of kowtowing to Persian Gulf theocracies and despoiling the Alaskan tundra, why doesn't the US government exploit the vast store of natural resources ripe for the taking on the West Coast?

In addition to reducing American dependence upon foreign energy sources, the US Oil for Food program could achieve an even more difficult goal: actually finding a use for the skankiest, most underfed celebrities in Hollywood.

Geologists have already mapped out Phase I of the plan, which calls for the exploitation of Hollywood's so-called "superfields":



Experts predict that the Christina Aguilera, Kevin Federline and Ashlee Simpson fields can be counted on to produce at high volume for years to come in exchange for a minimal investment in food, most of which has already been pledged by the Frito-Lay Corporation and Tootsie Roll Industries, manufacturer of the Charleston Chew.

Further geological research has been focusing on the highly promising Paris Hilton and Tara Reid fields, and scientists are convinced that they're on the verge of a major discovery in Maggie Gyllenhaal's hair.

Ed Begley, Jr. has been running a whole fleet of cars for years on nothing but compost and drippings from John Travolta's forehead. Isn't it time we followed him into the future?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed!

Update!

Washington insiders and armchair pundits alike were stunned today when Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post, revealed the identity of Deep Throat, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's secret source whose leaks helped expose the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s.

Most experts assumed that Deep Throat was a member of Richard Nixon's inner circle who was troubled by corruption and lawlessness in the administration. No one imagined that the answer to one of the 20th Century's greatest mysteries would be diminutive, yet larger-than-life poultry entrepreneur Frank Perdue.

Perdue died Thursday at his home in Maryland after a brief illness. He was 84.

This shocking revelation about Perdue catapults the chicken magnate into much higher echelons of history than could have been imagined for a curiously chicken-faced pitchman and entrepreneur who turned a backyard egg business into a $2.8 billion empire.

Details of how Perdue might have been in a position to learn the secrets that unseated a U.S. president are sketchy, but the buzz inside the beltway has been focusing on a possible connection between Perdue and the chickens that came home to roost following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and have been living on White House grounds ever since.

There has been no official statement from the Bush administration on this bizarre revelation, but one White House source who spoke on the condition of anonymity was quoted as saying, "How the hell do I know what happened? It's a clucking mystery!"

bc
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