with the gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad."
— From "Scaramouche"
by Rafael Sabatini
laugh each year as the legislative session ends, reading news stories in
which our alleged representatives tell reporters about how hard they had
to work, all the late-night session, being exhausted, blah, blah, blah.
The truth is, essential issues are always left to the last minute so
that the leadership controls all and no one else knows much about what's
This year was amusing as ever, with major issues awaiting action
Thursday while Miss Massachusetts was introduced, and former
speaker-turned-lobbyist Tom Finneran showed up on the House floor, where
lobbyists are not allowed.
Finneran told reporters he was just acting as guide to some tourists
he'd met when, in fact, he was actually showing the money guys that he
is the only lobbyist who can get into the middle of the action while
other lobbyists must hang out in, well, the House lobby. The message:
The money guys should hire him instead of those other lobbyists.
The session was supposed to end at midnight, but this one continued
until 1 a.m. because there was "the people's business" to be done. The
media was eventually able to analyze the frenzied activity, so over the
weekend we learned how we citizens got the business.
I was in-studio at WTKK-FM Friday, talking about the week just ended,
and about the measure to repeal the income tax that will be on the
ballot this November.
After a lively hour with Michael Graham, I joined Jim Braude for two
more, since his co-host Margery Eagan was on vacation. Jim and I had
been opponents on ballot campaigns in the past; this time we are not
directly involved in the Question 1 income tax repeal, so we could have
a nice, objective argument.
Most of the callers agreed with me that voters should say Yes on 1.
Jim asked them if they would change their minds if the Legislature did
reforms in the areas of public employee pensions before the election.
I reminded him that legislators just went off on paid vacation
themselves until AFTER the election, so no reforms are likely to be done
My point was further made the next morning, when The Boston Globe
reported, "Pension boost OK'd for state workers" during the final hours
of the legislative session. On the same front page was an item about the
private-sector unemployment rate rising "as employers cut their
Pretty funny juxtaposition, huh?
After getting my giggles from the morning papers, I finished Dave
Barry's wacky novel, "Big Trouble" that afternoon. I was laughing so
hard that the cat, sleeping on my lap, was bouncing up and down on my
tummy. Didn't open his eyes, just dug his claws into my jeans so as not
to fall out of the hammock.
I found myself wondering when I'd laughed this hard at a book, and
remembered Pat Conroy's 1979 novel "The Great Santini." My teen-age son
fell off his bed laughing when he read it.
More recently, there was Christopher Buckley's "Thank You for Smoking,"
which was also a movie, though it wasn't as funny as the book because
you didn't get to follow the narrator's thoughts as he defended Big
Tobacco on a television talk show.
I have seen some really funny movies though. Some of you may remember
the original "M*A*S*H" with Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould. I saw
it at a military theater whose clients could really "get" the
fast-talked humor; I recall one Navy chief falling out of his seat onto
his knees in the aisle, he was laughing so hard.
Earlier than that: Anyone remember the scene in "Pillow Talk" with Doris
Day and Rock Hudson, in which Rock had to fit into a VW bug? Volkswagens
were new back then, so it was a really funny sight gag.
Or how about that Clint Eastwood film in which the bad guys shot
multiple holes in a bus to stop it, never thinking to just shoot out the
My parents and I used to laugh together at live television, in which
mistakes made could not be corrected. In one drama, a doctor came
downstairs to a distraught husband after treating his wife, who had
tried to kill herself.
"Has she ever committed suicide before?" the doctor asked, then hearing
himself, struggled, with the other actor, not to laugh until the
Now I laugh — and cry — through "Boston Legal," which is just good
writing, not bloopers.
We can laugh in real time while watching the Sunday-morning talking
heads, though. The Democrats were in high dudgeon last weekend over the
funny "attack ad" comparing Obama's celebrity to that of Paris Hilton
and Britney Spears. Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle insisted on Fox that
Barack Obama never uses the word "I," humble soul that he is.
Unfortunately for the humility fantasy, Chris Wallace had the "I come to
Berlin... a fellow citizen of the world" clip from Obama's recent
Yes, folks, we can laugh at this year's presidential campaign, or we can
cry. The world in 2008 is indeed mad.