Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fun with Drugs on the Daily Show

Some people wax rhapsodic about a particularly good meal they had eight months ago. They're called "French." Other people have the next best thing to spontaneous orgasm when remembering an exquisite vintage wine. Many of them are also called "French," but others live in places like Napa Valley, Australia, and even New Mexico.

Me, I feel at one with the universe when I watch an especially sharp Daily Show, or the Real Time with Bill Maher on my birthday, marking the end of a three-month drought with a flourish. (Asa Hutchinson did a fair job of making a fool of himself, but he was nothing compared to conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly or "twitty" rising conservative star Kellyanne Conway. Chris Rock was truly in top form, and considering that 95% of most comedians would be a slump for him, I mean that as high praise.) And now those devils at Comedy Central are adding to my must-TiVo list. This new D. L. Hughley show definitely looks promising, and of course Showtime has added Weeds to its already impressive line-up.

There was this shocking little exchange in tonight's Daily Show:
dialogue between two Republican Senators (heavily paraphrased)

Chuck Hagel (Nebraska): We're not winning in Iraq. We can't even secure the road from downtown Baghdad to the airport. We're bogged down like we were in Vietnam.

George Allen (Virginia): There's a big difference with Vietnam. In Vietnam, the opposition had a philosophy, an organization, and a government (so to speak). In Iraq, the enemy is just there to wreak havoc. [As Jon Stewart points out, there's someone there there was someone in Vietnam to attack or negotiate with.] The fragmented army in Iraq (Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish, with various sub-factions and de facto warlords) is really very much like the situation in the United States, with the main U.S. Army and also Andy Taylor and Barney Fife and maybe occasionally Gomer Pyle. The level of cooperation among rival factions in the Iraqi so-called military is comparable to the cooperation between the NYPD and the FBI.
Here's a little quote from tonight's Daily Show that zoomed by so fast even the closed captions folks couldn't keep up. Thanks to the miracle of ten-second instant replay, then...
"Jagged Liable Pill" (story about the Vioxx verdict in Texas)

ROB CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, I deal in the subject of drugs, pushing education on people. Also, I'm totally holding.

JON STEWART: Rob, this is stunning: $253 million verdict. In your mind, what impact is this gonna have on American business?

RC: Jon, it's a milestone in corporate history. This victory for the plaintiffs ensures companies will never again act with such disregard for their customers. Warning: actual verdict may be overturned or substantially reduced on appeal. Texas Law [indistinct] $26.1 million. Corporations hold strong incentives to manipulate the consumer, give them diarrhea.


RC: If a pharmaceutical company advertises a prescription drug but doesn't say what it does, the FDA doesn't make them list the side effects. That's why the TV spots for the drugs I just mentioned [Fosamax® (has something to do with osteoporosis) and Crixivan® (a protease inhibitor to fight HIV — but be sure to read the part about "Crix belly")] don't give the foggiest indication of what those pills do, other than help old people ride tandem bicycles. But Jon, I've been taking Crixivan®, Escobar(?), and Facoges(?) for years.
[This web site does not give anything remotely resembling professional medical advice. If you take most any prescription medication without consulting a doctor, you are a damned fool. For example, if you take Crixivan®, you can take Lipitor® or Crestor®, but not Mevacor® or Zocor®, assuming you don't have some other risk factor or combination of meds, like mixing Lipitor® with certain diabetes drugs, for instance. More free amateur medical advice: if you don't finish your antibiotics when you get them prescribed to you, and you save them until you have a cold or flu, you're not only a damned fool, you're a doubly damned fool. The odds are that you have done harm to your body's ability to get better, not once but twice.]

The show goes on, though. The guest is Fox News anchor Chris Wallace (apparently he's not the love child of Mike Wallace and Chris Rock!). After yammering about how Steve Carrell is a "bigger" Star than Jon Stewart, he acknowledges that the Iraqi constitution is hopeless at this point. (Indeed, on Real Time, Kellyanne Conway Twitty compares the American Founding Fathers to the leaders today in Iraq — never mind that it took 11 years from the Declaration of Independence, which we orchestrated ourselves with our own leadership, to the Constitution, that we fought over and made difficult compromises on little issues like slavery. Catch Real Time on HBO for the remainder of this week.)

Then he talks about Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who has been camping near President Bush's ranch in Texas. Basically, the press corps was bored and Cindy Sheehan was there, so they interviewed her, but she struck a resonance because she "tapped into a concern that people have about how things are going." Or, as Jon Stewart puts it, "Shouldn't we be having a conversation about the competence of the Bush administration, because at every stage, they seem to have been wrong? How can we trust them to be the ones to pull this off?"

Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head when he said that Bush is just holding on and closing his eyes in hopes that his successor will clean up the mess.

Chris Wallace asks, "Don't you think it would send a terrible signal to the world if we just up and left?"


The center of the problem is an issue that came up clearly during the election campaign. George W. Bush is congenitally incapable of admitting to any error, no matter how trivial. What America needs right now is a President who can stand up and say, "Yes, I miscalculated about Iraq. I was wrong when I said that they had WMD's. I drastically underestimated the cost to both the American people and the Iraqi people of my adventure of forcing régime change on Iraq, ready or not. Furthermore, the continued American presence only inflames the situation, so we're getting out. We hope to hell that the Iraqis can sort this out, perhaps with some help from neutral outside parties. Go negotiate in Geneva, but Iraq will fare no better as a puppet to Iranian ayatollahs or the Taliban or al Qaeda sympathizers than as a minion of the almighty American Christian Empire, so you'd better be sure that the solution serves the people of Iraq."

P.S. I haven't yet gotten to the fresh Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria, but it's sitting on my TiVo®. I will savor the anticipation. Stay tuned.