The Monday mailbag: JFK, Barack Obama… Whitney Houston?

Welcome to the Monday Mailbag, which this week returns from beyond the grave, where it spent a very enjoyable year in a semi-monogamous relationship with Ann Landers, thank you very much.

As always, the Monday Mailbag appears on Tuesday in tribute to certain procrastination-based origins. If your palate is especially refined, you’ll be able to detect the enhanced notes of oak, leather and barnyard produced by the additional 24 hours of aging. (Especially the barnyard.)

There has been one significant upgrade to the Monday Mailbag: no longer do you need to take my word that these are actual letters from actual readers who actually exist. You can see the evidence WITH YOUR VERY OWN EYES! Indeed, you and all who have within them so much as a smidgen of inquisitiveness are invited to leave questions for next week’s Mailbag in the comments below.

Sadly, my quiet determination to preserve some mysteries for future generations, in association with my attention span, prevents me from providing an answer to every single question. Feel free to resubmit, cleverly adding elements that are guaranteed to attract my attention and pique my interest, such as references to Dawson’s Creek – or even regular ordinary creeks that lack the power to make photogenic teenagers incredibly horny.

Scott, I’m thinking the upcoming Liberal leadership convention will not be a compelling event in its own right. But if each candidate had a cool theme song to capture the essence of his or her personality and vision, things might be bearable for all concerned (it’s well known that Bill Clinton was only made tolerable by his use of Fleetwood Mac, for example). So, do the party – nay, the nation – a favour and suggest a good song for Rae, Iggy and the others. (I’d suggest the old campfire song, The Ship Titanic, as a general convention ditty, but I’m stumped beyond that.) – Sean S., Waterloo, Ont.

Dear Sean S. –

You’ve come to the right man. I have a tremendous amount of experience in the world of campaign songery. For instance, I am still undergoing therapy to clear my neural paths of all remnants of the ditty that John Nunziata commissioned for the 1990 Liberal leadership convention in Calgary: Vote Nunziata! He’s on your side! He’s going to [something] the Liberal party [something]… Sadly, dear readers, this is not a fabrication. This song was actually written, performed, recorded and aurally administered to an unsuspecting and defenceless audience. If memory serves Clyde Wells was among those who, upon hearing the tune, vomited pretty much everywhere.

By unfortunate happenstance, I was also on hand in Ottawa in 1993 when Kim Campbell was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative party. Her campaign song? New Sensation, a pop confection that includes the lyrics, “You’ll find out in the end/There really is no difference” and “You’re only human/What can you do/It’ll soon be over” – thus establishing INXS as superior political analysts to pretty much everyone in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

With my bona fides duly established…

Bob Rae – Sean S., you mentioned Bill Clinton and Fleetwood Mac. Do you think the band would be willing to tweak Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow) to make it Please Stop (Thinking About Yesterday) (Specifically All the Yesterdays Between 1990 and 1995) (Because That Would Be Great) (Thanks)?

Michael Ignatieff – I see his campaign moving swiftly to benefit from the Obama effect by imitating the hit song Yes, We Can – bringing in a boatload of Canadian celebrities to sing and rap over a speech in which the candidate repeats his catchiest and most inspirational campaign rhetoric. So watch the charts for the rise of Yes, an Egalitarian Multilateralism Can Implement an Solipsistic Bias Against the East-West Linkages That Institutionalize Fanaticism (Red Dawg Remix).

Martha Hall Findley Helpless, Neil Young.

Dominic LeBlanc – He’s new on the scene, so he faces the biggest challenge of all – putting together a campaign team and letting Canadians know who he is and what he stands for. The solution to this problem, as it is to most problems in life? Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All.

The genius of this song is that not only is it a widely recognized and uplifting piece of music – it completely relieves a political candidate of the need to hire a speechwriter. It’s part hit single, part stump speech:

I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way

[Polite applause, nods of agreement – yes, a national program of early learning is a critical priority.]

Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs

[Louder applause, shouts of encouragement]

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe

[Sustained, adoring applause. LeBlanc forced to dodge incoming female underpants.]

No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity*

* “Not technically true.” – S. Dion

Hi Scott, were you the one who gave my girlfriend syphilis? – Alex, Saskatoon

Hi Scott, were you the one who gave my boyfriend syphilis? – Alex’s Girlfriend, Saskatoon

Dear Alex and Alex’s Girlfriend –

Hang on! I’m pretty sure I saw this one on an episode of Three’s Company. Larry will know what to do. To the Regal Beagle!

Also, perhaps you have not heard, Alex and Alex’s Girlfriend, but Barack Obama’s election has ushered in a time of hope and optimism, an era in which the sins of the past are to be forgiven, especially those involving sexually transmitted diseases. Seriously, I heard him say so in his moving We Hold These Herpes to Be Self-Evident address. So if you hold the whole “syphilis” thing against me, I guess that pretty much makes you racist. In which case: boo.

P.S. Can I drop by later tonight to pick up my Nozema?

Scott: While Stephane Dion is a good man, he didn’t perform particularly well on TV. Out of the major leadership contenders for the Liberal Party, who would stand the best chance against the Conservatives – Benson or Maude? – Mike Moffatt, London, Ont.

Dear Mike –

Finally, a relevant question.

It’s a tougher call than you might think. Benson has working-class roots, a quick wit and the important political characteristic that certain Italians refer to as “suntannedness.” And he’s a success story. He worked himself up from butler to lieutenant governor aided only by his charisma, his competence and the desperate attempts of a team of Hollywood producers to stave off cancellation. Also, he totally gave that German cook what for. In your face, Gretchen Kraus!

And then there’s Maude. Maude is a woman whose withering, unrelenting gaze can force a man’s testicles to instantly shrivel to the size of a Glosette. Her signature slogan – God’ll Getcha For That, Walter – would likely resonate among evangelicals, churchgoers and women married to men named Walter. That said, Maude’s three divorces could prove to be a political liability, as could the fact that she’s completely fictional. (Although, to be fair, Jack Layton has largely managed to overcome this particular obstacle.)

Scott, what were you doing when they took that pic of you that appears attached to your blog, as well as your mag print column and promos contained within it? Pinching a loaf? Saluting Mini-me? Indicating where your hairline was pre-National Post? Inquiring minds want to know. – Dot, parts unknown

Dear Dot –

Answer – Posing for my ID badge for the upcoming Finland’s Most Exasperated Man competition.

Honest answer – The photo was taken in my old office in Langevin Block on Parliament Hill while I was working for Paul Martin. The Maclean’s photographer had shot approximately 2.96 million frames when my hand rose to my head and my face instinctively made the universal expression that means, “For the love of Urkel could you please stop taking photographs of me now? Britney Spears is going to go through a underpantless phase in about a year and you’re going to want to have as much free digital memory as possible.”

Bonus actual true story – I recently hosted a series of fancy dinners attended by Maclean’s subscribers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Each dinner was preceded by a cocktail reception that featured Grey Goose vodka of a tasty, plentiful and complimentary nature. During the Toronto cocktail reception I was approached by an enthusiastic, vodka-refreshed woman who a) insisted that I hug her, and b) made the following exact comment: “You’re not quite as ugly as your photo makes you look.” It’s not much of a slogan to rally behind, but in these difficult times I suppose it will have to do: Scott Feschuk – Not quite as ugly as his photo makes him look.

Scott: Apparently “According to Jim” is returning to TV in December. How is this possible when there are so many perfectly good test patterns and civil defence tests to run? How can Obama let bad things like this happen? – Ken, Moncton

Dear Ken –

Tragically, the gruesome ailment known as Thinking Jim Belushi is Funny continues to ravage a small, luckless segment of the U.S. population. While recently undergoing a procedure in a U.S. clinic (a series of injections of the ass-firming drug Bumtox), I shared a room with a woman diagnosed with belushiosis. I learned there is no known cure for believing that According to Jim is amusing, though every once in a while a doctor stopped by the room, looked in on her and screamed, “No it’s not!”

The good news is that the entertainment industry is refining and improving its system of digital product placement – which allows studios and networks to insert a product into a scene long after filming has been completed.

The new technology solves a problem and creates an opportunity. The problem solved: the makers of, say, Ritz can now decide at the last minute to have their cracker box inserted into a scene. The opportunity created: after many painful years of waiting, the technology finally exists to replace Jim Belushi with something more charismatic, such as a sandwich condiment. Tonight on ABC! A hilarious new episode of According to This Oversized Jar of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise!

Scott, what does the future hold for Hillary Clinton? – John, Gatineau

Dear John –

To be accurate, John, I believe your question needs to be rephrased as: What does the past hold for Hillary Clinton? For that is where she now is, hurtled backwards in time by Doc Carville in a tricked-out DeLorean to the eve of the Iowa caucuses armed with only her wits and lead pipe with which to kneecap Barack Obama and… but wait! A glitch in the flux capacitor has sent her into the depths of prehistory – from which there can be no escape! Which explains why all your text books have abruptly changed to chronicle the cultural dominance of prehistoric woman and the archeological discovery of a clay disc believed to be Earth’s first campaign button: “A Mastodon in Every Fire Pot – Vote Hillary.”

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