We must close the absurdity gap

France gets a first lady who posed naked. America gets Sarah Palin. We get Brad Wall.

Where did we go wrong, Canada? France gets as a first lady a supermodel who used to pose naked. Italy gets a prime minister in the midst of yet another sex scandal—this one set off by the revelations of a woman who goes by the nickname Long Thighs. And what do we get? We get a summer’s worth of political debate about the mechanics of Employment Insurance administration. If we’re not careful, they’re going to kick us out of the G8 for this.

The tedium transcends the federal level. Ed Stelmach was grazed by a handful of pie near the beginning of his term as Alberta premier, and has yet to accomplish anything else quite as interesting. Brad Wall of Saskatchewan keeps talking about how everything in his province is going to be all great and awesome thanks to . . . potash!—the four-eyed nerd of the resource world. Meanwhile, reporters in Prince Edward Island got excited recently when rumours began to fly that one of Robert Ghiz’s hairs had been spotted moving.

Compare this with what’s going on south of the border.

In California, an Austrian-born bodybuilder whose training for elected office consisted of a) owning several suits, and b) hunting John Connor is presiding over a government in such dire financial circumstance that it is actually paying people with IOUs. Next week: Monopoly money, followed by a return to the barter system. (Memo to Lindsay Lohan: according to the Federal Reserve, a pack of smokes goes for two lap dances.)

In South Carolina, Mark Sanford is the latest conservative U.S. politician to demonstrate his respect for the sanctity of marriage by going all the way with only one of his mistresses. Reporters going back through the governor’s daily agenda found that during one taxpayer-funded trip to Argentina, home of his “soulmate,” Sanford claimed that he planned to spend an evening doing “some self-guided sightseeing.” (I think we can all agree: worst euphemism for sex ever.) I’m not saying Sanford’s presidential hopes are exploding before our eyes, but Bruce Willis is calmly walking away from them in slow motion.

In Illinois, disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich was denied the inalienable American right to humiliate himself on a reality television program. When a judge barred him from leaving the country to participate in I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here, his wife went in his place. Even after eating a tarantula on TV, she still qualifies as the “classy” Blagojevich.

In New York, the man who replaced Eliot Spitzer—who paid $4,300 for four hours with a hooker, damaging his presidential aspirations but locking up the nomination to serve the next four years as Charlie Sheen’s wingman—is so unpopular that being caught with a prostitute might actually increase his approval rating, especially if the polling firm happens to call Bill Clinton’s house.

(This is not to say that Spitzer didn’t make a contribution to society. Without his efforts, most of us would have no idea that elite prostitution agencies rate their hookers on a scale from three diamonds to seven diamonds. A quick comparison: seven-diamond whore—willing to dress up in sexy nurse attire. Three-diamond whore—refuses to take off her clown costume.)

And then there’s Alaska, where Sarah Palin—who first stole our hearts by claiming she understood global politics on account of Russia being, like, kitty-corner to her front porch—is back with another bit of unconventional wisdom: the best way to apply for a job with tremendous responsibility, such as the presidency, is to quit a job with much less responsibilty, such as running a state that’s 90 per cent hermit.

Full disclosure: I have a stake in a potential Palin flame-out. Since last fall, entrepreneurs have been cranking out T-shirts, tote bags, even thongs emblazoned with the governor’s name. People are making a lot of money, and I’m not one of them. Maybe now I’ll finally see an increase in demand for my line of Romney-logoed male girdles.

But Palin is not to be underestimated as a political force. She got big-time cred with social conservatives. She got children, young children, CHILDREN EVERYWHERE! Plus, now that her daughter Bristol has given birth, voters won’t be exposed to those TV images of her being caressed on the belly and called Rosemary by Dick Cheney.

And let’s not forget—Palin has foreign policy experience! She was commander of the Alaska National Guard, her advisers keep reminding us. One could argue that no politician of either partisan stripe is better qualified to defend America from a platoon of herring.

In terms of entertainment, Palin and her gubernatorial counterparts just keep giving and giving. Meanwhile, the incoming premier of Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter, recently described his wife Kelly as “still the love of my life.” He didn’t even have the decency to do it while confessing chronic infidelity or eating an arachnid.

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