'State of the Union': It's a 'Dirty Job,' But Someone's Got to Say It
So, how was last night's "State of the Union" address? Same as usual, lots of gasbaggery, as much from off the podium as on, and none of the things that make big gatherings like this fun to watch on TV.
Yes, there was the mild excitement from seeing who was sitting with whom after the "date night" suggestion, meant to bring together Democrats and Republicans.
The whole hands-across-the-aisle thing didn't stop former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from turning down GOP Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia. Really, Nan, have you seen Eric Cantor (right)? He's got that whole hot-teacher thing going on, with a Southern accent to boot! Don't know what the girl was thinking.
Unlike the Golden Globes, there's no booze in the House, so nobody gives an entertaining drunken rant. Unlike the Grammys, there's no music. Unlike most all other self-congratulatory exercises on TV, there was no red carpet. Seriously, if the president is going to sign autographs afterward for adoring fans in the gallery, we at least should get Joan Rivers to critique the outfits.
I'm certain I saw a plaid skirt out there. That's worth five minutes from Joan at least.
But there was something worth looking at -- and by that I mean the pool-blue eyes of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (below), who gave the Republican response. Of course, we only got 10 minutes of him, unlike the hour-plus gander we had at the POTUS (that's President of the United States for those of you who weren't obsessed with "The West Wing") and the good and bad angels sitting on his shoulders (I'll leave the assigning of which one was Vice-President Biden and which one was Speaker Boehner up to you).
A short visit with Ryan was almost worth sitting through the analysis -- although possibly the best moment of the evening came when Ben Stein was talking to Neil Cavuto on FBN and said something along the lines of, the only way to fix American education was to whip the students, and we're not likely to do that.
Anyway, I just learned that Thomas Jefferson called a halt to delivering this Constitutionally mandated report to Congress in person, thinking it made him look too much like a king, and that Woodrow Wilson reinstated the practice (giving Glenn Beck just one more reason to go, "I hate that guy!").
One political commentator, I forget which, declared it the Super Bowl of politics. If that's true, then how come we didn't get a '70s or '80s dinosaur rock band for the halftime show? It's more like the Academy Awards of politics -- a lot of feigned affection, meaningless words and gratuitous glad-handing in hopes of currying favor for the future.
(Apparently the president's theme was Winning the Future, which aside from being the title of a 2005 book by former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich, also has a rather unfortunate acronym. Come on, you can figure it out.)
Having to endure all this blather is yet another reason to add a red carpet. At least it would put everybody on fashion notice, because I saw some things ... hon- ey, there should be a law.
For a real State of the Union, you could have flipped over to Discovery Channel, where Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" revealed the American Society of Civil Engineers' national report card in an episode called "Dirty Infrastructure."
Nothing got an outright "F," but nothing got a B or higher either.
After watching the show, I'm officially afraid to flush the toilet, go near a canal lock, drive on a road or especially over a bridge, ride a train, flip a switch or to stand too close to a hydroelectric dam (apparently the average age of these dams is 50; and no, for dams, 50 is not the new 40).
But there is reason for hope.
Rowe also paid tribute to the hard-working, clever folks who keep our nation from crumbling down around our ears.
Despite the president's urging in his speech that students get college degrees and become teachers and scientists and whatnot, I'm hoping at least a few kids decide to take up road-paving, bridge-building, sewer-cleaning and other skilled-labor occupations that don't usually get mentioned in the State of the Union.
But Rowe mentions them, both on his show and at his website dedicated to the topic.
The episode repeats on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET. Watch it if you dare.
As for the POTUS, if you missed this speech, fear not. He'll give more. All presidents do.