Topic Monkey Friday Is Adjusting Its Meds

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Memo to Jay Leno: FIVE MORE WHAT?

It's like getting to the top of the rollercoaster, looking down that big first hill, and suddenly realizing there's a giant vat of rotting cheese at the bottom. I see the headline that Leno is stepping down at Tonight, to be replaced by Conan, and then I read that it won't be until 2009. And that's assuming we're not all dead of mercury poisoning, terrorist attacks, or space mutants by then.

Can someone please explain to me what Leno needs five more years to accomplish? Here, I'll help you with that. Please complete the following sentence.

"Man, I remember that one time, on the Tonight Show, when Jay Leno _________________________________"

You can't finish it, can you. Nobody can. The only reason he needs five more years before he can step down is that it's gonna take the archivists that long to compile a retrospective "greatest moments" reel longer than 45 seconds. Leno got the job in the first place because he was the safe, Nerf, middle-America guy who wouldn't traumatize the Carson-deprived with any of those fancy "ideas" or "concepts". And in the intervening dozen years, he's done that. Nothing more. Frequently less. All he's going to manage with five more years on the job is five more years on the job.

I hate Leno. From the standpoint of a connoisseur and occasional purveyor of Sweet Mother Comedy, he is everything that is wrong with everything ever. You just know that, if he hadn't gotten the Tonight Show gig, his career path would have included two failed sitcoms and a basic-cable talk show that would have siphoned away three of Dennis Miller's six viewers.

I feel bad for Conan. He'll get handed the reigns to what was once a vital cultural institution, at age 46, after seventeen years of being bleached and made flaccid by Captain Chin. It's like being a cast member on SNL the year after Anthony Michael Hall. Or being president after Dubya. It's like winning a classic car in a contest and finding that the delivery guy has stripped out the engine. Jay Leno, ruining things for the rest of us.

Speaking of ruining things for the rest of us, Jim Hertz, of Frankfort, Illinois, is nowhere near as famous as Jay Leno, yet he is just as deserving of our notice. Jim, whose first name was invariably spelled "Dick" throughout his school career, is a dumbass.

You see, Jim visited the local library over the summer with his wife, Jan. Based on subsequent events, I can only assume they stopped in because one of them needed to relieve their bladder, as people like Jim and Jan Hertz use books for table-propping and spider-killing, and you rack up hefty fines if you do that with library books.

While in the library, Hertz became incensed when he saw a poster of the Pledge of Allegiance on the wall. The poster lacked the words "under God", of which we have spoken at least twice before, and which have been the subject of much kerfluffle amongst the nations anticognoscenti. Furious that the gay liberal homosexual communist atheist agenda had infiltrated the heart of the Midwest, he called the library later to complain.

The incident should have stopped after the library informed Mr. Hertz that the poster was a historical item, one of several posters donated to the library by a railroad company. Before 1954. Back during the Dark Ages when "Under God" had never actually been IN the Pledge. Realizing that Michael Moore hadn't been in the library with a big eraser, Mr. Hertz accepted his mistake, went home, and nobody heard from him again.

As if. This is the problem with stupid people. When they're caught being wrong, it's never their fault for being wrong, it's YOUR fault for knowing something they don't. Hertz got all up in the Frankfort village library's grill about the lack of a note on the poster explaining to fucking imbeciles like him that the poster was old. He's fighting back, offering to replace the old, crappy, atheist, Satanic poster with a brand new spiffy Godariffic one from his Successories catalog, that has both "Under God" and a picture of a kitten on it.*

The library board, secretly laughing at Mr. Hertz behind his back, was willing to accept the donation, sell his new poster, and keep the proceeds, hopefully to buy some new history books, but that wasn't good enough. Lest you think I am making Hertz out to be a buffoon, I give you his own words in that wonderful tradition we have here, ACTUAL QUOTE TIME:

"I also pointed out to them that I found their copy of the pledge for sale for $5 on what I would call anti-Christian Web sites. We might put together a slate of candidates who will better reflect the wishes of the people of Frankfort. It seems to me they are not meeting the wishes of the people by not posting a corrected copy of the Pledge of Allegiance. In my opinion, the board is not taking this very seriously.

Yes, the board is surprisingy unresponsive to the only two fucking nutjobs who've ever complained about the poster. Those bastards! And as the proprietor of what I'm sure you would call an anti-Christian website, I take grave offense that we would offer "copies" of items as merchandise. We use only the finest CafePress sweatshop workers to provide our readers with the opportunity to never order any of our T-shirts. So there.

*Certain portions of this sentence deviate strictly from purest fact, but the essential spirit is there.