First, the background. In one of the funniest movies ever produced, Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks managed to spoof both Westerns and racial prejudice by inserting an African-American Sheriff into a town called Rock Ridge, a place saturated with citizens who were most likely kicked out of the KKK for being too radical.
Rock Ridge is an interesting municipality. For one thing there’s enough inbreeding to make a redneck blush; the entire town’s citizens share the same last name, which is Johnson (Van Johnson, Howard Johnson, and my favorite, Gabby Johnson). Also, they can’t stand Blacks, so when their new Black sheriff strolls down Main Street, the first thing those decent, God-fearing, law-abiding citizens try to do is to string him up for being Black. But Sheriff Bart, played by Cleavon Little, remains undaunted: “Once I establish myself, they’ve got to accept me.” Unfortunately, his first encounter to ingratiate himself draws a rebuke; the “N” word is used, and I don’t mean “nincompoop.” The town drunk known as the Waco Kid, played by Gene Wilder, tries to console him. “What did you expect?” he asks. “Welcome Sonny? Make yourself at home? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land, the common clay of the new West. You know,” he concludes: “Morons.” At that point, Bart cracks up. Now he understands.
But do others’ Consider the following analogy. Sheriff Bart strolls into a contemporary newsroom. At first, editors are pleased, until they discover that Bart’s a conservative who carries a gun. A pandemic of coronaries sweeps through the room.
“Holy Defibrillator!” Bart barked. “Get a grip! I’m here to clean up this one-horse newsroom.”
“We don’t have any horses here,” someone objected.
“I didn’t specify what part of the horse, did I? Now hand me your headlines and make it snappy. I’m in a rush.”
“Please, never use that word around here!”
“What word, headlines’
“No, Rush. Here’s the stuff we’re working on right now.”
Bart is handed a bunch of headlines. As he reads, he feels his trigger finger tremble.
CBS Announces Kerry Victory! Senator Captures 600 of 538 Electoral College Votes Cast. Based on a secret memo from the trial lawyers association, Dan Rather explained that…
Bart swallowed hard and went on to the next one.
Kerry Wins Election! Hillary Demands a Recount. Joe Lockjaw from the Clinton WHW–White House in Waiting—stated, “Look, we were only kidding. Why do you think we wanted that monotone Wookie to run in the first place? So he could lose and clear the field for Hillary in 2008. This whole thing is a big misunderstanding.”
Oral Roberts Sues Kerry Campaign for Patent Infringement. Noting Senator Edwards’ promise that millions of wheel chair bound Americans would be able to walk if Kerry is elected, a spokesman for Oral Roberts stated, “Hey that’s our line!”
Swift Boat Vets Sink Kerry Yacht! After giving a speech about helping the common people, Kerry hurried from one of his seven mansions to the private dock that once hosted his favorite yacht, the S.S. Ketchup. “It was the one where I kept all my medals,” he sniffed, wiping back a tear.
Bush Declares War on Rain Forests! After visiting a strife-ridden country in Central Africa, President BUSH DECLARES that WAR is hard ON RAIN FORESTS.
Bart can’t read any more. He bellows, “You guys make Soviet newspapers look fair and balanced. The only remotely professional story is the one about Jay Leno endorsing Kerry because he thinks anyone with a chin like that can’t be all bad. My intelligence hasn’t been this insulted since I once asked a Liberal for a sheet of Colored paper, he said they don’t use that term any more, and accused me of being a racist. You are hopeless!” He stormed out of the room.
Back to Rock Ridge, where everyone—as viewers of the movie know–now greatly appreciates their nonconforming sheriff. Mayor Johnson steps forward to console him.
“What did you expect?” he utters softly. “Welcome to our newsroom? Edit our stories’ Give balance to our headlines’ You’ve got to remember, these are simple journalists, members of the elite media. You know,” he concludes. “Morons.”
Bart cracks up. Now he understands.
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