Just Above Sunset
August 7, 2005 - Is there a new national pastime?

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

World's Laziest Journalist

August 8, 2005

By Bob Patterson


Did I miss something?  Was there a change?  Did lying officially become the new national pastime?  Was such a switch reported in the Mainstream Media (MSM) on a day when I didn't read the hardcopy of the New York Times? 


When I was a kid (Woodling, Mantle, and Bauer in the outfield and Mel Allen doing the play by play) everyone stressed that telling the truth was a good thing and I should do the same.


Some time ago, my boss asked me if I was responsible for a broken parking light on the company truck.  I admitted that I was and he immediately rebuked me for the honesty: "Oh no!  Do you realize how much paperwork that will cause me?  Why couldn't you have just lied and said 'No!'?"  He then had to face the dilemma of whether to tell his boss I had said "Yes" or say "Bob said he didn't."  It would have been easier for him to tell a fib, but by telling the truth he could simultaneously subtly emphasize how much work it was to manage a high maintenance employee (who was too dumb to know when it was time to lie) such as myself and possibly cause some further "drama."  I believe he told his boss about my disingenuous answer.  Whether his boss told his boss the same thing is another matter.   He could easily have said: "They don't know how it happened."  (Who knew a $10 parking light lens was so important?) 


On Tuesday, August 2, 2005, I was listening to the Rush Limbaugh radio program on the day when a special election was being held in Ohio - the contest between Paul Hackett and Jean Schmidt for a seat in Congress.


Rush was playing grandmaster chess with the issue.  If a Democratic candidate opposes the search for WMD's in Iraq, he is a traitor, but if, like Hackett, he says he supports the troops there, he is branded a "liar."  Who better than Rush knows what Hackett means and thinks politically?  Hackett should have consulted with "America's Anchor" before crafting his TV ads. 


Immediately, I fell into my long-established thought pattern.  George "Father, I can not tell a lie" Washington = good.  Limbaugh says Democrats are liars = bad.  Then it hit me!  Lying has become the new American pastime!  What if Rush was saying that the guy was a liar and the implication was that fibbing is a very good (hip) thing?  What if that was actually a way for Rush to express his admiration for Hackett?  Nothing is true (everyone lies) everything is permitted.  Republicans are fibbing when they say, "we know where they are."  Democrats are (according to Rush's way of thinking) liars when they say they support the troops in Iraq.  OK.  Both groups are fibbing.  That's a good fact to remember.


Just suppose "that's the way it is."  If lying has become an acceptable way of being an American, then things make sense.  "Saddam has WMD's that can be combat-ready in 45 minutes and we know right where they are" would be sufficient grounds to bomb the snot out of his country and kill or capture him no matter how much money it took.  When a candidate to become a Bush administration official says he doesn't recall testifying for anything recently then badda-bing badda-boom – he'll be able to fib to the UN with a straight face and deserves immediate confirmation.


Suppose a representative of the old national pastime testifies under oath before Congress that he has never taken steroids?  The old fashioned way of thinking is that such a fib under oath, even if it were just about a quick blow-job, deserves impeachment proceedings, but under the "everyone lies" rule, such a statement could be clarified with the word "knowingly." 


Heck, if lying were OK, the ultimate example would be a fellow spinning in the "No Spin" zone and getting points for "getting away with it!"


Rush (on the August 2 installment of his nationally syndicated talk show) castigated Hackett for using his experience in Iraq to become the "John Kerry Jr." candidate in the Ohio special election. 


The Republicans ignore the missing WMD's and say everyone lies.  If a Democrat, such as Hackett, says he supports the troops in Iraq, Rush calls him a "liar."  Both groups are liars?  That's good to know. 


Rush calls himself "America's anchor."  Isn't an anchor someone who hosts a newscast with reporters stationed around the world (such as CBS radio's World News Roundup which will soon celebrate its 67 (?) birthday) - and not someone who runs a call-in show where Doritos, Cheetos, and dittos are passed around like snacks at a cocktail party?


In a previous column, we did mention that the National Liar's Hall of Fame is located in Dannebrog, Nebraska.  If lying becomes the new National Pastime, then perhaps that tourist attraction could televise an annual "Liar of the Year" awards ceremony? 


If lying becomes respectable then perhaps the Supreme Court could look at truth in advertising and revert back to the age-old legal principle of caveat emptor? 


If lying is now okay, won't the Boy Scouts have to reword their oath?


The "smart bombs" that completely eliminate unintended civilian collateral damage could be back on the evening news.


Just think of how much money car dealers could save if they didn't have to have maintenance warrantees and guarantees to honor?


It could mean the return of the "snake oil" salesman. 


There was a problem in logic (that, if memory serves, was found on a popcorn box) which poses a question about how do you find out who is lying.  Here was the setup for their exercise in logic: two guys come from two different islands in the South Pacific.  One always tells the truth.  One always lies.  How are you going to find out which one is ingenuous and which one is disingenuous? 


How can you find out which one is BS'ing you?


If you ask: "Are you a liar?" both guys will answer "no."

If you ask: "Are you the truthful one?" both guys will reply with a "yes."

If you ask: "Is the other fellow a liar?" both will respond: "Yes."

If you ask: "Is the other fellow telling me the truth?" they both will say "no."


What one question will work?  I'll hum Wagner's Ring Trilogy (Don't you hate it that we're here and missing the Festival in Bayreuther?) while you think about it for awhile … Dah da dah dahhhh …


Give up?  What happens when you don't concentrate on which individual is prevaricating and open it up a bit by asking: "Are both of you liars?"  The truth island guy will say "no" and that will be the truth and the lying bloke will say "yes" and that will be a lie.  Gotcha!


The real clue comes when it is alleged that both are liars.  Hmmm.  That sounds familiar.


Did Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan really think he was flying to California from New York by going East?


Would it be honest for a columnist to make up an item and then frame it in the subjunctive mood in a question, like this: "Is it true that a Twin Peaks reunion special is in the works?"


If a columnist make a mistake, such as plugging Willett Travel and spells Yasmine's name wrong, is it honest to just ignore the goof-up and skip running a correction?


In The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, Georges Bernanos was quoted as saying: "What does the truth matter?  Haven't we mothers all given our sons a taste for lies, lies which from the cradle upwards lull them, reassure them, send them to sleep: lies as soft and warm as a breast!"


The disk jockey knows that the Ink Spots had a hit with It's A Sin To Tell A Lie (Lyrics by Fats Waller), but he has chosen the Billie Holiday version to play.  While you listen to the music, we'll vamoose. 


Next week our column will be about (choose one):


A. Coverage of the Sturgis Rally motorcycle event this coming weekend

B. What it's like to make a porn movie with Christi Lake

C. The Zamboni races held in secret every Winter, on a frozen lake in Minnesota that's on private property

D. How one airline donated $300,000 to the Hubert Humphrey For President campaign and got the rights to fly to Hawaii in return.

E. None of the above.


(Hint:  "…but not least")  Until then, have a perjury free week.





Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....