Final Postcard from Mungo City

“I’m tellin’ you, the tribesmen wouldn’t stand for this, man.”

Joy. Hope. A good night’s sleep. Reads like gibberish from an ancient tongue. Almost requires too much dexterity from these weary digits — all those optimistic swoops and strikes unveiling beauty thought lost. I can’t remember the last time I used those words and meant ’em; usually I crush them between protective spikes before presentation. We cut the throats of those tired fuckers years ago, bled ’em slow till they shriveled into spent ShamWows. As a result, the Merriam-Webster Geneva Convention could prosecute us as war criminals. We backslid into eight years of fear and doubt. We became those primitive yokels we laughed at in history class, that special genus of fool who believes in sorcery and that dwarves steal babies for soup.

Where were you when it stopped making sense? When intelligence and exploration were vilified? When ignorance and stupidity prevailed? When calculated image control, the espousing of stereotypes and accepted fictions, denoted authenticity? When our country kinda sorta declared George W. Bush — whose willful cluelessness was, astonishingly, seen as an endearing virtue — the perfect leader for a complex new millennium?

How did this happen? It was the perfect storm of liberal complacency and conservative aggressiveness (the pinnacle of the underhanded Gingrich Republican crossed with the novelty of Karl Rove dirty-pool) after a near-decade under Bill Clinton. Well, my liberal complacency was in part complicit. I thought 2000 was in the bag for Al Gore, not because I was an ardent supporter, but because time and space could not allow another Bush White House to happen. He was a benign stooge, a dry-drunk charlatan better off peddling Buicks in the Midwest, sweeping McDonald’s shrapnel off his desktop as he handed you a pen and asked, “How can I get you behind the wheel of a Skylark?” He was the lesser of the GOP candidates, yet he trounced his more qualified and interesting counterpart, John McCain (serious!), who easily had fistfuls of disgruntled Democrats game to back his gallop. (No, really!)

Bush fell into office on the tip of a blurred question mark. We’ll never get a straight answer on whether or not he legitimately won; the truth is too nebulous by now. What was comically evident — and cute, at first — was that our new Commander-in-Chief fancied himself a cowboy, a blue-blood playing dress-up much like he did as a Connecticut-born squirt spellbound by the whitewash Westerns blaring from his Texas tube.

He grew up with a convoluted notion of the romanticized boot-scooter riding into town, nutsac and gut in front. His hero was Ronald Reagan, another phony spur-jangler who as a Hollywood actor at least essayed the archetype in a zillion B-grade woofs. They both bought into the testosterone myth0logy: trust your instincts before listening to anyone else, because the only law is you.

And so it passed. The message to America after the Bush administration had safely crossed the White House lawn was a sharp “Thanks, but we’ll take it from here,” followed by a stiff-arm to the sternum and a slammed door. They tromped within those walls for eight harrowing years, committing unspeakable acts of scoundrel-ism that the country was too demoralized to protest. Not that anyone would, anyway, lest they be branded hysterics, hippies, and traitors. This wasn’t a presidency; it was a three-year-old’s birthday party turned murderous and ugly.

Somehow, he was elected twice. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, we sure as shit got fooled again. Yeah, both times were squeakers, and both were questionable, but, still, man, what the hell. After barely surviving the 2004 bloodbath, he had the audacity to proclaim a “clear mandate,” even though most voters had struggled with the urge to dimple-chad GO FUCK YOURSELF across their ballots. And the hits kept coming. Hurricane Katrina. Scooter Libby. Guantanamo Bay. Suspiciously deleted White House e-mails. More turmoil and turnovers than a doughnut-shop soap. That staff went through more personnel than Paul Revere & The Raiders. The slide continued. Bush’s popularity plunged to depths unreachable by even the most tenacious sonar. At this point, he’s fallen so low he’s drafting emergency legislation to ask every man, woman, and child in America for all the rope they can spare.

He swaggered into our lives with a cocksure strut and a Western lawman’s gallant wink. Now he gimps off like Gabby Hayes, demoted to legacy’s cook, that sunken weasel who burned the coffee and took a rifle butt to the plexus every time he opened his mouth.

No one in the future will recount this span of embarrassment without collapsing into a sputtering vulgarian heap. Those who do should be lauded for their supernatural restraint. Even the most fastidious academic will succumb to a zenith of red-faced rage. “Why, dammit, why?!” he’ll wail as he sets himself ablaze. Civilized people have their limits, after all.

The Bush administration — that hapless plague of assholes and infants, the kings of Mungo City — is finally at a blessed end. The main chimp’s final oratory to a disinterested public amounted to “Hey, the sun still comes up in the morning, right?” In his drained body and destroyed flesh, he looked like the half-devoured centerpiece of karma’s buffet.

Some pundits felt pity as he doddered off the dais into sad oblivion. “Don’t kick him when he’s down,” they advised. To which I reply, in the renewed spirit of bipartisan brotherhood and harmony: NO. He was a mistake that transcends party lines. His name should swell eternal as a generation’s folly, a cautionary tale for anyone warmed by their own hubris. The temples of Mungo City are ashes now, and he is but walking dust.

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