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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Trivial Pursuit

"This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace, which inward breaks and shows no cause without why the man dies." -- Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Russia totters on the edge of an economic abyss, with civil strife and grave hardship looming like gargoyles on the gates of the future. Northern Ireland mourns the innocent victims of the bilious sectarian war, as the body of its fragile peace lies bleeding in the streets of Omagh. The Congo reels from foreign invasion and bloody fratricide. Kosovo dangles like wounded prey in the jaws of the Beast of Belgrade.

But all these are the merest trifles compared to the gigantic historical angst gripping the United States this week as the country grappled with the most momentous question it has ever faced in its entire 222-year history:

Did Bill Clinton and that intern get frisky, or what?

The around-the-clock, wall-to-wall, station-to-station, never-ending, surroundsound, microscopic, quadraphonic media coverage of the "Monica Lewinsky Affair" reached new heights in American "journalism" this week, with networks, newsmags and Internet sites glued to the windows of the scandal like so many fevered peepers outside a girls' shower room. Clinton's modified mea culpa triggered oceans of pre-, mid- and post-talk palaver, all of it hedged about with prophecies of doom for the republic and its "disgraced" leader.

The apotheosis of the media frenzy was perhaps reached the night before Clinton's confession, when CNN's much-lauded Jeff Greenfield led a somber "town meeting" debate on the "crisis." And who were the participants in this evocation of old-style direct democracy? Concerned citizens culled from the ranks of the nation's yeomanry? Don't let's be naive. It was a whole roomful of media pundits, punditing about the punditry they've been punditing back and forth to each other for months.

Meanwhile, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. Polls showed that two-thirds of the American people already guessed Clinton had cuddled with Monica, they didn't care, and they were tired of hearing about it. But hear about it they did -- and about nothing else happening in that negligible little zone that lies outside the nation's borders.

Code Red

If the sight of the president of the United States on national television confessing to oral sex with a young intern is not surreal enough for you, then how about this: Sarah Ferguson hosting a television talk show about "real people and their everyday personal issues."

Yes, Fergie, the Discard of York, has signed on with Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television as the host of "Surviving Life," a yak show dedicated to "the real problems ordinary people face in society today," the Guardian reports. Sky says Ferguson will "draw on her own troubles" to help guests deal with their difficulties.

Like housing problems. Sarah just had a gosh-darn devil of a time trying to find the perfect crib for her own family -- until Queen Elizabeth shelled out a few million pounds last month to help Ferg buy a palace. She'll be drawing on everyday, ordinary experiences like that for the show.

The Discard will also draw on her "extensive background" as a talk show guest and Weight Watchers shill on American television. Ferguson "has a real talent for television," says Sky's general manager Elisabeth Murdoch (who obviously went through a lot of everyday, ordinary experiences to get her job, too).

Post-Nasal Drip

With all the hoo-rah about Clinton's hubba-hubba with Miss Monica these days, one former Clinton claimant is obviously feeling a bit left out. And that's why Paula Jones stuck her nose back into the public eye last week, The Associated Press reports.

Jones, whose sexual harassment suit against Clinton was thrown out of court earlier this year, went on national television last week to debut her brand-new nose, a marvel of rococo-removing rhinoplasty. The enhanced nostralia came courtesy of the usual "anonymous donor" (i.e., the same hard-right groups that have financed her assault on Clinton, as well as her numerous makeovers, new threads and luxury cars). Jones' new distinguishing characteristic is a pert little number, rounded and slightly raised on the end in a manner that doesn't look at all like Monica's now more-famous mug.

"I just wanted a normal nose to match my face," Jones said in a filmed National Enquirer interview that was shown on ABC's prestigious "hard-news" show, PrimeTime Live. "Now they can see my whole face. The whole me."

Better be careful about showing "the whole me" to people, Paula. That's what got your buddy Bill in so much trouble.

Iron Curtain Call

One woman who, it is safe to say, has probably not committed hanky-panky with Bill Clinton was also putting herself on display last week, flashing a bit of flesh for big money in the cornfields of Iowa.

It was not, perhaps, where you'd expect to find Margaret Thatcher, but there she was, strutting her stuff at a steak-and-wine rally for the Iowa Republican Party, Reuters reports. The carnivorous conservatives paid $250 each to hear Thatcher make her usual modest speech about how she and Ronald Reagan saved an ungrateful world from the commie hordes. Delegates who lusted for more contact with the Iron Vixen coughed up $1,000 more to have their picture taken with the baroness.

Thatcher made the money-grubbing appearance at the invitation of billionaire Steve Forbes, the addle-pated heir-head who is making his second acquisition attempt at the White House after his first merger bid was turned down by voters in 1996.

Forbes, whose 1996 campaign was hampered somewhat by his apparent inability to string consecutive sentences together or write his name in the ground with a stick, has also undergone a Jonesian make over. Voice coaches, speech massagers, wardrobe managers and other animal trainers have transformed his bug-eyed, slap-me, yee-haw manner of old into something more slightly resembling governmental gravitas. His friendship with the titled tightwad helps complete the gloss.

"We're kindred souls," Forbes said (of Thatcher, not Jones). "She believes in free hearts and free minds."

But not -- emphatically not -- free lunch.