If you were in the greater Los Angeles area yesterday (Sunday), at around 9:30 a.m., then that sound you heard was my head exploding at this:
Were you aware, for instance, that the 1925 Scopes trial, a litmus test of a Tennessee law that criminalized the teaching of evolution, was ginned up at a Dayton, Tenn., drugstore by town leaders who wanted to revive Dayton's moribund economy with a show trial? John T. Scopes, the high school football coach and a part-time science teacher, agreed to help, Humes writes, because "it sounded like great fun."
This, from Kit R. Roane's interesting review, in the L.A. Times Book Review, of Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul, by Edward Humes. And no, I was not so aware. Or, as the Jews say, Who knew!?
A trial as a publicity stunt/tourist draw. Brilliant. And how right they were, those shrewd Volunteers in their drug store, with their lime phosphates and neuralgia nostrums and Sen-Sen and what-all: The Scopes trial not only brought fame (or notoriety, which is better than fame, since it's fame with great cleavage) and what we now know to be "media coverage" to their fair town, but it spawned a Broadway play, which led to a socko movie version starring Spencer Tracey and Frederick March and Gene Kelly in an all non-singing, non-dancing role!
Granted, the main subject of Humes' (very cool-sounding) book is not Scopes, but rather the attempt of the Dover, PA school board to "balance" the teaching of evolution with a compensatory curriculum unit dealing with the erotic poetry of the Tooth Fairy. Nonetheless, it--
What? Did I say "the erotic poetry of the Tooth Fairy"? Ha ha! I meant "Intelligent Design." My "bad," although also my "disgusted," my "contemptuous," and my "meaning all disrespect."
But that's not the point. The point is this: If Dayton, Tennessee can just decide to throw a trial and see who shows up; and if their success generated what I assume was a handsome financial return; then why can't we do the same? What do the "town leaders" of Dayton, TN got that we ain't got? (And don't say "courage," 'cause we got that, too.)
Of course, for this plan to make any sense at all we will need two prerequisites, which is a fancy, if stupid, way of saying the even-more-stupid, we will need two needs: A desire for income, and a plausible legal problem, requiring adjudication at trial, of greater than parochial interest.
Hence the explosion of my head, in which was "birthed" an idea that is as intelligent in its smartness as it is audacious in its nerve.
But first, some background:
We are coming to conclude, with great sadness, that Vice-President Cheney may not be called as a defense witness in the Scooter Libby trial, thus shattering our long-cherished hope of nailing the bastard for something--perjury, obstruction, lying to the FBI, whatever. This is not official, but smart people on the scene are starting to shrug helplessly.
Second, and worse, it continues to look as though President Bush, in defiance of karma itself, will probably not be impeached. I know--you're as sick over it as I am. But wait.
Bush and Cheney are promoting their "surge" in Iraq. This will call for more troops sent and maintained at even greater than the already obscene expense of the Iraqi debacle thus far. And while neither gentleman shows the least inclination to support any tax increases (on, say, jillionaires) to pay for this project, they still insist it is necessary for the survival of western civilization itself.
Very well, then. Let them display the civic spirit of a high school football coach even as we manifest the resourcefulness of a group of Tennessee sharpies eighty years ago.
Let's put each of them on trial, on international television, and earmark the revenue for the war in Iraq.
What? You can't hear me because your head is exploding? I know. Isn't it clever? At last, a chance for each of these "patriots," these "visionaries," these (coughs quietly) "leaders" to actually do something for, as opposed to to, their country.
Mind you, I'm not suggesting we violate the Constitution or due process or any of that good stuff. Let these trials be impeachment trials, held before the Senate, with the full measure of Parliamentary procedure, hypocritical moralizing, and hambone playing-to-the-gallery appropriate to such an august, etc. Thus, neither event would amount to anything as crass or legally dubious as a "show trial." Each would, instead, be nothing less than a "show impeachment," with all the dignity, or at least show-dignity, appropriate thereto.
Does anyone doubt the spectacular ratings these trials would accrue? Because O.J.-schmO Jay--these, taken together, will be the trial of...well, "The Century," but of the last century as well. Indeed, the one argument against this plan is that our G.N.P. will take a substantial "hit" as all of America simply stops working and stays home (or goes to a sports bar, with big-screen tvs) to watch Chimpy and Darth sweat it out.
And never mind the domestic gross; billions of people around the globe, who normally couldn't care less about
our nominating conventions or Presidential Election coverage, would watch, too, so despised are the defendants the world over. People who don't own televisions would buy one for the occasion. People who don't have electricity--say, in Baghdad--would...well, they'd miss out. Ironically.
Otherwise, though, it's a win-win. The Peznit and the Veep get to "walk the walk" for once, finally sacrificing something of their own for the sake of Freedom, and raking in substantial returns with which to pay for a venture that apparently only they think is a good idea. And doesn't it sound like great fun?
As for profit participation, network licensing fees, commercial time rates, "downstream" revenues from DVD's and associated books and Happy Meal figurines, etc., well, let's leave that to the agents and the lawyers. Just send my "created by" fee to me in care of this site.
But time is of the essence. We need deal memos and letters of intent a.s.a.p. Before the troops start to surge. And before the defendants flee the jurisdiction.