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Blizzard of Oz

Dubya, Ashlee and Bill O'Reilly have spun Racket's mind into the twilight zone; also, two local retro-cool institutions bite the dust

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." -- The Wizard of Oz

Have the last six or so weeks in America been real or just a twisted fever dream? Will all of us and all this weirdness simply vanish when the teenage Judy Garland wakes up?

Life has gotten that bizarre. All of Dubya's debate performances (but especially the first), Ashleegate and the allegations in the Bill O'Reilly lawsuit would seem to support the idea that we're trapped in some freaky farm girl's reverie. And like Dorothy, we've all been granted a couple of peeks behind the curtain, of both the music business and politics, and what's back there ain't pretty.

Little scenes from The Wizard of Oz have been playing themselves out all over the place. There was that cowardly lion Dubya with either the "poorly made shirt" bundled up behind his neck, or his electronic pipeline to the mother lodes of compassionate conservatism, the fiendish cerebral cortexes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

Throughout that first verbal combat, the immensely annoyed and flustered Bush looked as if he was channeling those cranky bastards behind the curtain at every challenge Tin Woodsman Kerry lobbed at him. "Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz. I said come back tomorrow," Cheney-Rove spoke through that gabbling, smirking zombie they dispatched to the debate.

A month later, Fox News's own great and powerful pundit, Bill O'Reilly, was alleged in a lawsuit to have had a troublesome little man behind his own curtain as well. According to the suit filed by 33-year-old employee Andrea Mackris, 55-year-old O'Reilly is not really the stolid pillar of the community he pretends to be -- the guy who authors moralistic children's books and is morally outraged by the racy lyrics of guys like Ludacris.

Nope -- the guy in Mackris's lawsuit isn't that type at all. Instead, he's a vibrator-fixated, porn-addicted, hopper of Thai whores who brags about cheating on his pregnant wife with Italian babes, sexually coerces his underlings and masturbates while talking dirty to uninterested women on the phone. And then boasts that if anyone tattles on him for any of the above, he'll get his big brother Roger Ailes to beat 'em up. And oh yeah, if you're a good-looking young woman in his employ, he wants to jet you to the Caribbean, take you to a hotel, literally inject you with wine, stick you in the shower, play with your nipples and then tease your pookie with a "falafel." Or a loofah, he can't decide which, at least while he's masturbating. And you gotta hand it to Luda -- his O'Reilly diss song "Hoes in My Room," in which a horny O'Reilly invites a bunch of groupies to his hotel room, was far more prescient than we ever could have known a year ago. And where was O'Reilly when Chingy, Snoop and Luda cut "Holidae In"? If the suit really represents the man's skillz, he coulda dropped a crunk-ass guest verse on that joint. ("I'm Bill O from the F-O-X / hittin' the inn for some S-E-X / tickle your nipples with a loof-aaahhhh / my no-spin jimmy will make you hit the roof, ungggh.")

If the Cowardly Lion lacked courage, and the Tin Woodsman lacked a heart, and the Scarecrow was short a brain, I guess the O'Reilly described in this lawsuit would be a giant sausage with no conscience.

Fast-forward to October 24, where in mere seconds, one of Judy Garland's teenage brunette pop-singing successors transformed from Dorothy to the Wicked Witch before a gloating nation's eyes. It's too soon to tell if Ashlee Simpson will become another forsaken Milli Vanilli or be forgiven like the Monkees (my money's on the latter), but her disastrous performance sure did make for entertaining television. Simpson took to the stage a golden girl, a pop princess Cinderella who refused to let her prettier sister hog all the limelight, and what's more she allegedly did it all on her own, on more-or-less organic terms. ("I'm totally against and offended" by lip-synching, she once said. "I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me.") Before it was over, as the wrong track swelled around her and her piped-in vocals bellowed out all the wrong words, she clicked her ruby shoes together and wished she was home, danced like the Scarecrow, and then wound up melllll-tttiiing like the Wicked Witch.

Only Simpson didn't fizzle as fast. She blamed her band for her not being able to sing live, and for her inability to grasp the basic fact that the show must go on, even when the computers that provide your viability as a pop entity go haywire.

And now, at this remove, it all seems like some awful malaria-inspired delusion. All these scandals and debacles are running together in my head. George Bush told John Kerry that he wanted to tickle Ashlee Simpson's nipples with a shawarma…No that's not it…Bill O'Reilly stuck a vibrator up Luda's butt in Rome, while O'Reilly's pregnant wife had lesbian sex with Ashlee Simpson in the shower…No that's wrong, too…Karl Rove talks dirty to Dubya through a little transmitter embedded in his ear…That can't be right…George Bush's lip-synching went awry at the debates and all he could say was "Global test!" and"It's a hard job" over and over again…That sounds like it might have happened, but who can be sure?

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