Cosmic jokes


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The Detroit Lions — yes, the toothless Lions — finally won a football game, a feat once considered about as impossible as achieving peace in Somalia.

So I suppose it’s possible that we might get a health-care bill out of Congress before the century is over and the oceans rise enough to obliterate the Maldives and Miami.

Not that I’m getting all soft and misty-eyed and optimistic, or anything. I suspect President Obama has a better chance of getting the Olympics to Chicago than he does of getting a health-reform bill that would be any better than our current system — which, you have to admit is so sleek and high-tech and works so perfectly well that you wonder why anyone would want to fix it in the first place.

How long has it been since the Detroit Lions won a football game? you ask. Well, I’m not exactly sure, because it occurred before I was born, but I’ve heard rumors in Internet chat rooms that the last time the Lions won, Gutenberg was rolling out his generation’s version of the Internet. (It was, according to reports, a very primitive sort of Internet. You actually had to read books. Sheesh.)

A small note: the Lions’ highly unlikely victory came in front of the smallest crowd in the Detroit stadium’s history. Oh, well.

And the opposing team suffering the ignominy of ending the Lions’ losing streak was the Washington … well, the team’s nickname is one of those obscenely bigoted terms that should have died in the 19th century but didn’t because Americans are so generous about not killing words.

Aren’t you overreacting to a simple name — you ask. C’mon.

Well, maybe. I’m from the excitable Irish, and I’ve been known among my friends to overreact once, possibly twice, in my life.

But consider this: What if the team’s name were the Washington Whiteskins? How would you feel then?

For that matter, what would the African-American players on the team think? Would they be highly insulted? Or would they think it was some kind of colossal cosmic joke?

Are there even cosmic jokes that colossal?

I don’t know. But I do know there is a cosmic joke this colossal: those Moon rock that the United States, with great pomp and ceremony, I’m sure, gave to the Netherlands turns out, in fact, to be petrified wood.

Yeah, petrified wood. At least according to BBC Radio. We might call it a Dutch treat, I suppose, but I think that’s probably one of those bigoted expressions that we try to avoid. Unless we’re the Washington NFL team.

It does, ever so slightly, lend a bit of weight to those conspiracy theorists who don’t believe the U.S. ever landed men on the Moon and instead staged a colossal (there’s that word again) farce in the Sonoran desert.

But, of course, if we go down that road, pretty soon we wind up on the grassy knoll in Dallas, looking for petrified wood and mileage signs to Roswell, N.M., only to discover Tom DeLay has a feminine side.

Yes, it’s true. In an interview, the Hammer, as he was known in Congress, said he got in touch with his feminine side while on the set of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: Is this another cosmic joke? Tom DeLay with a feminine side?
We didn’t know he had a human side.

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