Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

GOP Taps Lab Man
David Simmonds

Republican strategists are pulling out all the stops in an effort to find a new presidential candidate who can make voters forget George Bush.

"We have to remember that the last great Republican President was a movie actor," said Hugo Smarmee, of the influential Texas based think tank, Citizens for Liberty, Freedom and Big Hummers. "So let's think outside the box."

Party polling results tell the same story. When asked who they would prefer to see as their next presidential candidate, Republicans tend to select John McCain or Jeb Bush - someone wearing traditional political stripes. When encouraged to consider someone from any walk of life, names like Britney Spears and Donald Trump jump to the top of the list, with pollsters reporting a significant pick up in enthusiasm. Mel Gibson and Dolly Parton are not far behind.

But the Republicans didn't get to run the White House without putting a little brainpower at their disposal. "Republicans want someone who wears underwear" said Smarmee, dismissing Spears' chances; "and Trump would spend his time firing people and having his hair cantilevered. We've got to cast our net wider."

And a surprising name is rumoured to be near the top of most insiders' lists: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, best known to Americans for his appearances as the proprietor of Muppet Labs on the late Jim Henson's Muppet Show. "We've got to get back to the days when Americans were good neighbours and had a 'can do' attitude" said Smarmee. "This guy is always convinced his experiments are going to work; and if you look at his assistant, Beaker, you'll see that he inspires incredible loyalty."

"I know a lot of his experiments have gone awry" said Smarmee, "but compared to what's happening in Iraq, they look like ducks on a pond. And Americans like a nice guy who's willing to try." Smarmee added that while Honeydew's political affiliations are unknown, he would go down well with Republicans, who warm to the idea of a president who might make America's enemies think he would "drop the big one," even if inadvertently.

Reached at his modest Santa Barbara apartment in his first public interview since his name surfaced, Honeydew admitted he was looking for fresh challenges after a recent fire gutted his laboratory. He mused about the necessity of adding a human vice-presidential nominee to "balance the ticket" - names such as Regis Philbin or Jay Leno came to his mind - but stressed he valued the loyalty of friends. It would be a "given," he said, that Beaker would serve as chief of staff. He also saw a role for Miss Piggy ("she could have gone toe to toe with Rumsfeld") and Fozzie Bear ("if he'd been at the UN, people might be a lot less angry at us"). However, he also admitted to some "youthful indiscretions" involving "recreational use of a periodic table of the elements," while declining to provide details.

Honeydew is not the only larger than life character who has attracted attention. Some reports say exploratory committees have already been formed for Dagwood Bumstead, of "Blondie" fame, and Principal Skinner (still starring in "The Simpsons"). "Why not?" mused Smarmee: "our sitting president is a cartoon character." Michael Richards has proposed having "Kramer" throw his hat in the ring (saying "my career as Michael Richards is over anyway"), although Smarmee says most people just laugh at this possibility. "Thank goodness" replied Richards. But the early favourite is clearly Honeydew.

Isn't Honeydew hobbled by the argument that his head is made of cloth and cotton wool? "Not at all and exactly my point" replied Smarmee. "People will stop and take notice that we're trading up."

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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