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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


All for Naught

Surely there must be something going on in the world more edifying than the 400th official regurgitation of the Clinton canoodling scandal that is now, well, regurgitating itself once again in Washington. Perhaps we should look to the Mother of Parliaments, standing stately by the Thames, for a calmer, saner view of political life?

Er, not this week. The London political world is still agog at the slap-happy shenanigans of the teeny tiny Tory party and its hapless honcho, William Hague. A series of high-ranking Tory Lords deserted the Conservative Party last week after Hague sacked Lord Cranborne, the faction's leader in the upper house. His lordship's crime? Negotiating a historic deal on constitutional reform that would have led to the abolition of the anachronistic Lords in a cautious, two-phase process supported by all parties.

But even though the deal would have preserved a vast Tory majority of hereditary peers in the first phase, it went against Hague's Newt Gingrich-like strategy of "zero cooperation" with the Labour government on anything. And the fact that Cranborne negotiated the measure without Hague's cooperation threatened little Billy's attempts to wriggle into Maggie Thatcher's iron skirts and build an image as a "strong leader."

The upshot? Stung by the furor, Hague suddenly announced his support for the deal, while simultaneously insisting that it was "constitutional anarchy" and vowing to continue his aptly named "zero" policy - a boldly schizophrenic approach to statecraft that's left the Tory remnant in disarray.

Oral Fixation

But speaking of the noisome Mr. Newt, you need shed no tears for the ousted American Tory leader, who led his party to a historic defeat at the polls last month then resigned from Congress in shame. House Speaker Gingrich will soon be taking his show on the road, doing the old banquet circuit bump-and-grind for high-paying corporate johns, The Associated Press reports.

Gingrich has signed up with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which is selling the Republican's tongue-work for a mere $50,000 a shot. Calling him "one of the most talked-about figures in American public life," the bureau has been busy faxing memos to corporate boards and trade associations, touting their man. (Actually, in a recent scientific Global Eye survey of talked-about figures in American public life, Gingrich came in 237th, just after Bullwinkle Moose and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.)

"In addition to his speech," the bureau enthuses, "Mr. Gingrich, a man of ideas, is willing to meet for one hour, either in Atlanta or on site, to exchange views with your CEO, organization president or board of directors." Golly gee! A one-hour gab session for only $50,000! Who needs that new employee insurance program, anyway?

Profiles in Courage

Before Gingrich vacates his speaker's chair for the yellow brick road, however, there is the little matter of a presidential impeachment vote coming up in Congress next week.

But you won't see Newt sticking his $50,000 neck out on such a thorny issue; nor will his anointed successor, Bob "The Brave" Livingston, be taking the hot seat. In an act of political guts unseen since the days of Neville Chamberlain, both leaders (sic) have declined to fulfill their duty by presiding over the House during the historic session.

Instead, they will hand the gavel to Representative Ray LaHood, a quiet back-bencher. GOP aides said it's hoped that LaHood's calm demeanor will mask the voracious partisan rancor driving the proceedings, AP reports. Or as Harry Truman always said: "If you can't stand the heat, throw someone else on the fire."

Right Out

Meanwhile, the American Right lost one of its wealthiest patrons this week when millionaire Michael Huffington - former Republican congressman and long-time champion of "traditional family values" - announced that he was gay.

Huffington, 51, who spent $28 million of his own money in a raucous 1994 Senate campaign dominated by the antics of his flamboyant wife, right-wing author Arianna Stassinopoulous, told Esquire magazine he had forsworn homosexuality during the Reagan years (and Lord knows, Ronnie and his crew were enough to put you off men altogether, weren't they?), but said discretion could no longer fight with nature and he was happy to be out at last.

He added that he was now glad he lost the 1992 campaign, in which he and Arianna, an immigrant, had viciously attacked immigration until it was revealed that the couple used cheap illegal immigrants to care for their two children. The power pair had also pushed mightily for "Christian values" in the race against the incumbent, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

The Huffingtons divorced last year. Arianna moved on to Washington, where she now presides over an elegant salon of Moonies, cranks, dullards and impeachniks - the House Judiciary Committee, basically - while Michael remains behind in California. He is still suffering from an identity crisis, however; although he has firmly embraced his homosexuality, he says he's "not sure" if he is still a Republican.

But can't they cure that now?

Losing Heaven

And finally, for all you doom-ridden Chicken Littles out there, always fretting that the sky is falling, we just thought you'd like to know: The sky is falling.

Or at least shrinking. The Earth has lost about five miles of sky since 1958, British scientists told The Daily Telegraph. They said the likely culprit behind the contraction is the greenhouse effect. As carbon dioxide waste clogs up the ionosphere, it draws heat from the sky's upper level, the thermosphere, which has begun slipping away, bit by bit, into outer space.

The Oxfordshire scientists said the receding skyline is not dangerous so far - but if it keeps going at the present rate, we'll soon be left with one bald and blistered rock.

The scientists had some sensible suggestions for keeping the sky from escaping: cutting down on the use of fossil fuels, repairing ravaged greenbelt areas, dredging the life-smothering muck out of the oceans, etc. So there's no need to worry. We're sure that the nations of the world will, as always, pull together and do the sensible thing. Right?