In the '60s, "Assholes of the Month" was a feature in my satirical magazine, The Realist. In the '70s, "Asshole of the Month" was a feature in Larry Flynt's Hustler. Currently, on MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann has a feature, "Worst Person in the World," which is usually Bill O'Reilly. And now I'm posting "Assholes of the Week" in this cyberspace. I avoid targets like President Bush and Cardinal Mahony, because they're such ongoing, obvious choices. The beauty of Comments is that readers can post their own asshole selections that I neglect to include. Here are mine for this week:
*Scholastic, publisher of the Harry Potter series, for setting midnight Friday as the opening salvo for sales of the latest book, thereby forcing countless children to stay up way past their bedtime. Just for that I'm going to reveal how it ends. Harry and his friends and enemies are all having dinner at the same restaurant, but when you turn over the final page, it's totally blank.
*Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, for telling reporters, "We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want," but the next day his advisor announced that Maliki meant that efforts to bolster Iraq's security forces would continue "side by side with the withdrawal." Dick Cheney had called to remind Malaki that those videos of him humping a camel during Ramadan were hidden away in a safe place.
*The unknown White House official who ordered Dr. Richard Carmona -- George Bush's Surgeon General for four years--to mention Bush's name three times on each page of every speech he gave. He was fired for writing this sentence: "When it comes to abstinence, you can be sure that George Bush practices what he preaches."
*Lousiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, for signing legislation that penalizes doctors who perform a late-term abortion -- they would face fines up to $10,000 and prison up to 10 years -- making her state the first to restrict such surgery since the federal ban in 2003. The new law allows the procedure only when a woman's life would otherwise be endangered. However, it will be considered a crime if the pregnancy is expected merely to cause health problems. That's not a joke.
*The owners of several medical marijuana dispensaries in California, for -- if it's true, as alleged by the Drug Enforcement Adminstration -- profiteering from the illegal distribution of pot by charging patients two or three times the street value. Presumably, other government agencies will follow the lead of the DEA and coerce other businesses to stick to free-market protocols.
*Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, for ordering a college student who was raped not to use the words "rape," "victim," "assailant" or "sexual assault" on the witness stand for fear of prejudicing the jury. Perhaps she can testify that "He stuck his thing in my thing against my will." George Carlin is expected to introduce a bit in his next HBO performance about "The five words you can't say in court."
*Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, for insisting that the FDA's decision to close seven of its 13 laboratories would enhance the agency's ability to target unsafe food -- this in the face of severe criticism from Congress -- but he is as determined as salmonella swimming upstream.
Paul Krassner is the author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available from paulkrassner.com.