Friday, October 28, 2005

Valerie PLUME: Legal Mushroom Cloud Over D.C.

I must confess I'm going to comment on the topic everyone else is talking about. At least everyone else who is remotely connected to politics and has access to a microphone, whether it's plugged in or not. That subject is former Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev banging his shoe on the table at the U.N. Haha! Kidding. That hasn't been a hot topic of conversation since the era when men wore hats. No, I'm referring to The Leak. It seems our government has sprung a significant one, and it needs to be plugged before the Ship of State threatens to sink. But before we start taking on too much water with sinking metaphors, I should mention the leak involves the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Revered, Pulitzer-prizewinning, First Amendment Award-accepting star New York Times reporter Judith "Aluminum Tubes" Miller did not actually write a story on this topic, but if she had it surely would have been incendiary. Simply because (according to her Mysteriously Missing Notes, which had gone on hiatus for about a year) she understood the agent's name to be Valerie FLAME, rather than Plame. Another scorching typo I've seen on her name is Valerie PLUME. There's a bonfire of a metaphor! So there's no doubt we have plenty of vivid imagery from which to choose, ranging from all wet to highly inflammable. However, my job is to provide a unique insight on the story no matter how many people comment on this subject. All 280-plus million Americans could weigh in on Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of VP chief of staff Scooter "G. Gordon" Libby today, and I feel reasonably confident I'm the ONLY person to have this thought. But before I get to that I want to present a special award to MSNBC political commentator and Hardball host Chris Matthews. Chris has been on a lot this past week as everyone (or Democrats, at least) has been waiting with bated breath for the indictment announcement. I can certainly appreciate this, since Mr. Matthews is one of MSNBC's most articulate, informed, interesting and dynamic analysts. So of course he was on as early as Don Imus' program, and spent most of the morning providing commentary prior to the noontime announcement. Then, naturally, he talked through most of the afternoon. Finally at 4 pm he said he would be "returning at five" for more commentary. (All in addition to his regular 7 pm show) At last, MSNBC executives allowed poor Chris Matthews catch a bathroom break! So if the Society for Professional "Journalists" (sic: DUPES) can give Judith "Aluminum Tubes" Miller a worse-than-meaningless First Amendment Award, then I'm perfectly qualified to give an award of my own. On Chris Matthews' behalf I'll call it the Swimming Eyeballs Award, or S.E.A., for the host who appears to have gone the longest without a a trip to the bathroom. (Look! Another water metaphor!) The award is a special recognition for analysts whose commentary is so critical that their presence is in constant demand. Kudos, Chris! Considering that his show is called Hardball, I'd characterize his performance today as going well into extra innings. Anyway, as Pat Fitzgerald was giving his terse explanation of the indictments, I found myself closing my eyes and just listening. It is the first time I had ever heard him speak. Know what I heard? Comedian DAN AYKROYD!. Yep, the Saturday Night Live veteran famous for playing everything from a Buzzing Bee and Daddy Conehead to a Wild and Crazy Guy and former President Jimmy Carter. Pat Fitzgerald's Chicago accent is pure Blues Brothers! I know Fitzgerald is not a Chicago native, but I can definitely hear the flattened Chicagoland vowels in his speech. So his time spent there must have rubbed off. And of course the movie's Blues Brothers are Chicagoans. And it is not just the accent, it is the actual sound quality of his voice that recalls Mr. Aykroyd for me. Interestingly, Aykroyd, a Canadian, is a police buff whose father was a Mountie. And of course he starred in (dramatic pause for sound effects) DRAGNET. So tell me, is there any other person on the planet or in the solar system who thinks the Special Prosecutor is channeling Elwood Blues? I think not! I will say Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be every bit the honest, non-partisan straight shooter he's been rumored to be. In spite of the serious subject matter, his sense of humor also shone through. So unless the guy is a world class thespian, I think he's just doing his job to the best of his ability. We'll see what comes of all this, but I think the only people with something to fear are the guilty.

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