Twilight of the American Idol

By Jill Rachel Jacobs

Published April 23, 2004, issue of April 23, 2004.
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I had a bad dream. It was really creepy. I still shudder when I think about it.

I was looking forward to watching the final eight contestants compete on “American Idol” last week. As it is for millions of other good folk of this nation, the televised talent show is a staple of my Tuesday nights — until last week, that is. So why was this Tuesday night different than all other Tuesday nights? No, there would be no Latoya or Fantasia tonight. On this night, President Bush had something to say.

Look, I can appreciate the president’s need to address the public. From increasing alarming evidence of the government’s failure to act on pre-9/11 intelligence, to the dismal efforts to “liberate” Iraq to growing domestic problems, the president’s plate is overflowing.

But why should I have to suffer? Last I checked, there were 24 hours in each day, so why pick one of the few hours of television I watch? I also wasn’t too pleased with the Fox network’s decision to bump its No. 1 show to Wednesday in order to air the president’s live address. I don’t want to seem unpatriotic, because I’m not, but I had plans on Wednesday and was forced to change them to Thursday, risking missing “Friends” and “Survivor,” not to mention the finale of “The Apprentice.” To be honest,it was really inconvenient.

I tried to stay with the president’s speech, but ended up dozing off shortly after he began his lengthy summary. And that’s when it happened. The “American Idol” fanfare began and everything got real weird.

Paula Abdul: Mr. President, sir. You’ve got it going on and you made your speech your own. While at times you may have babbled so incoherently that even Jessica Simpson would have seemed like a Rhodes scholar next to you, you had really good posture and didn’t lean on the podium as much. And that was a good thing.

President Bush: Thanks, Paula. I hardly practiced, to tell you the truth. My speech abilities sort of come naturally. Guess it’s in my jeans. They’re from The Gap. (smirk, smirk; shoulder shrug)

Randy Jackson: Whatsup, President, Dawg! Hey, man, I’m just not feeling it. Come on bro, people are dropping like flies over there. Over 700 killed last week alone. Let’s be real. There were no WMDs. Where’s Osama? Not working for me. Sorry, man — I mean, Mr. President, dude.

President Bush: I know those pesky weapons are out there somewhere. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm. Heck, they could be on my ranch in Crawford, Texas. Why do you think I spend so much time there?

Simon Cowell: It was bloody awful! What’s with the “it’s been a tough week in that country” bit? You didn’t have a bloody tough week. You were on vacation, just like you were when you received the August 6, 2001, memo that should have sent off alarm bells. Next to you, Tony Blair is Mother Teresa.

President Bush: Umm… They’re evil… We’re good… they’re bad… We’re really good… We’re smokin’ ’em out of their caves… They hate freedom… Truth?… You can’t handle the truth.

Ryan Seacrest: Now it’s all up to you, America. If you want to vote George Bush through for another four years, dial 1-888-NO-WMDS…

And then things took an even stranger turn. Everything got real smoky and out of nowhere, Donald Trump appeared sitting at the helm of his conference table. But it wasn’t Bill or Kwame that sat in judgment before him this time, it was Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

Donald Trump: Look, pal, you’ve been a big help to “The Donald,” as I now pay a lot less taxes thanks to you. But I’m not sure you possess the leadership necessary to run a small diner, let alone this country. You got us into a bogus war on false pretenses and you refuse to accept an ounce of responsibility for any of your mistakes. And the only time we see The Veep is when he pokes his head out of the bunker for a few moments when you’re in trouble. “You’re both fired!”

Anyway, it was just a dream. When I woke up, the president was finishing up his speech and clearly had his work cut out for him.

I had things to take care of too. Like trying to figure out how to work my TiVo.

Jill Rachel Jacobs is a New York-based writer and humorist.

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