ComPost Live: Your weekly digest with Alexandra Petri

Feb 11, 2011

The Compost, written by Dana Milbank and Alexandra Petri, offers a lighter take on the news and political in(s)anity of the day. If you believe life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it, this is the chat for you. Join us every Friday at 11:30 to laugh, cry, and dish about the moments that amused you, shocked you, or caused you to yell things that frightened the other people on the subway.


Lots to talk about this week! Romanian witches! Beatles vs. Bieber! Will diet soda really kill you? The national anthem -- keep it? Change it? Call my office about it and voice your concerns?

But since VP Suleiman of Egypt just announced Mubarak is stepping down, it all seems less significant. I assume it's only because his shirtless Craigslist pics were about to surface... I mean, the protests didn't seem to be having much effect on him earlier.

Anyone else have theories?

Let's roll!

Come on Alex. For 315 million dollars, you'd go work for AOL too. And since we've established what your are, you'd probably do it for $315. Why didn't AOL buy out the Compost and save a ton?

There were 101 comments for your Star Spangled Banner spoof, most claiming that you were an ignorant ignoramus who doesn't know history. Congratulations! How will you ever break this record?

Honestly? Probably just by writing an ambiguous sentence that could be construed as praising or criticizing S***h P*lin, like, "Boy, she's just as good at public speaking as she is at parenting!" That usually does the trick.

I actually watched this clip on the new Keith Olbermann channel --- while I was eating meatballs for dinner. It did NOT improve the flavor! Someone claiming to be the "Community Lead" for this channel commented that, "'s refreshing to both see what happens to the animals we slaughter, and what real food looks like..." Do you think she's a disjointed schizophrenic?"

I can't rule it out! Did she mention the Scientologist-cum-Masonic Conspiracy at any point?

When the Christopher Lee scandal broke, did anyone else think of Saruman from Lord of the Rings? Oh, the mental image . . .

This was literally my first thought, and I don't use "literally" lightly!

My second thought was, "I assume that is why 99% of his voters supported him, on the off-chance that we could elect Saruman to Congress to offset the presence of the numerous people currently identified as Chancellor Palpatine."

Why out so fast? We hardly had time to enjoy the scandal. No SNL , no Stewart or Colbert to rise to his defense. Why?

I know! My favorite part was that he'd taken the photo on his blackberry. Allegedly. That just epitomizes the level of incompetence we're talking here. I'm going to strew some more "allegedly's" in here just so we're safe, but I think everyone agrees that it was he, and that it wasn't as, er, overwhelmingly hot as he might have hoped.

Ummmmm, the Pope isn't in Congress.

Ha! The physical resemblance is uncanny... A small part of me is always hoping he will toss off his robes, whip out a lightsaber, and duel with Samuel L. Jackson, just to throw us all a bone, but so far, no luck.

Speaking of the Pope, what do folks think of the new Confession iPad app?

just in time to draw people away from your chat. Coincidence?

Sometimes I think the world doesn't revolve around me, and then things like this happen!

How could you break up with QUACK-A_LAC when he's obviously so right for you? Are you going to give him another chance?

I wouldn't rule it out! After all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and my current plan is to go to a BYOB couples painting session and drink morosely in the corner murmuring about impermanence and the folly of youth.

Does the confession app work on Blackberrys?

Does anything?

I ask this as someone with a Blackberry. I can get Google Maps sometimes, but that's about it. Then again, I have AT&T, so it could be that...

But seriously, I think it's just for the iPad/phone.

Even Sarah Palin doing battle with Michele Obama over whether we should eat fewer desserts? I'm still puzzled over why Christopher Lee didn't announce he'd been forgiven by his wife and God, like Sen. Vitter. It worked for him. I'm also puzzled as to why Fox News didn't hire Keith Olbermann, since it could dispel the rumors that "fair and balanced" Fox emphasizes conservative commentators.

I think the Olbermann/Fox thing would be hilarious. Do two wrong-headed yelling pundits make a right? Or rather, make a right-wing newschannel uh, less right? (Someone else work on this slogan...)

It is usually supposed that they are great allies but in fact they are in contention for the same spot, GOP primary pin-up girl. If Bachmann runs how will Palin take her out? Mud wrestling?

After all Christopher Lee did to earn the spot of GOP Primary pin-up, you don't even include him? I'm calling sexism! And not just because you suggested they mud-wrestle for it, because I'm charitably assuming you're willing to watch Romney and Newt mud-wrestle for it as well...

So, we teach our teenagers about not sending or posting photos on the Internet because once on the Internet, they are there for why don't we teach our Congressman the same thing?

Sexting: it's not just for kids anymore.

I think the PSA's for the middle-aged on this subject would be hilarious.

"Remember when you thought it would be a good idea to send a shirtless pic of yourself to a girl? Now the whole Congress knows! And also they know you took the pic on your Blackberry in a mirror in what looks like a restroom. We're all embarrassed for you."

At least he didn't pull a Favre.

I agree we should be thankful, but I think the scandal would have been more dynamic for everyone involved if he had. The whole thing is oddly PG-13 right now -- it didn't even make the New York Post, I think.

Romanian witches are fighting back against the government's proposal to prosecute them for spells that don't come true. This is what one of them threatened: "Ms Buzea, who was jailed for witchcraft in the 1970s, has threatened to strike down Romania's rulers with a spell involving cat excrement and a dead dog." --- What? Is there an "eye of newt" shortage in Romania?

No wonder the spells aren't working!

Will Gawker, and the rest of the press look for other Chris Lee photos? or by his resignation will everyone back off? I think the country could use a good sex scandal right now, with the Egypt thing keeping the cable channels busy, we need some fluff to balance things out.

And it would definitely be more dynamic than the Lindsay Lohan debacle du jour...

There has to be something more to him. Like he's already done this with other women, and he's done way weirder things than muscle-posing for his Blackberry. Nobody resigns that quickly.

Although in spite of my last comment, part of me secretly hopes that he's known all over Craiglist as "That Guy Who Sends You Muscle Pics And Won't Go Any Farther," because that's sort of a strange distinction to have. It's like being half a streaker.

Why is it that exchanging lie-filled e-mails with some chick on Craigslist W4M personals resulted in an immediate resignation this week for Rep. Lee, while Sen. Vitter, who had sex with a diaper-wearing prostitute, continues to represent his constituents, even though both men are equally married? I'm curious about the decision-making process here.

I wonder the same thing! It might just be chutzpah. I think if you're in a position to suggest someone put on a diaper in an intimate situation, you probably are not going to scuttle away immediately after someone sees a shirtless picture of you... It takes a weird degree of, er, cojones that perhaps voters respect? I don't know, I'm sort of talking through my hat here...

Any better explanations for this?

Mubarak is out! What's next for Egypt?

I hope it's democracy. And I hope everyone continues to pay attention even after the crowds disperse.

I'm waiting for version 2, which allows you to send things to other people's Ipads that THEY should confess. Do you know George W. Bush's Ipad address?

Doesn't that sort of defeat the point? "Forgive me, Father, for you have sinned" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Also I think there is a non-negligible possibility that George W still thinks his iPad is a magic mirror.

where's Dana? Is it over?

Who do you think Quack-A-Lac was?

That Lee picture is barely meh. I can't tell you how often I see this on dating sites: a shirtless older guy absolutely convinced he is the hottest thing ever, and asking to meet only very young gorgeous women. Do they really grow distorting goggles around the age of 40-45?

I think they come built in to the Y chromosome.

I once responded to a Craigslist ad (this is true!) from a guy who was looking for a woman "whose brains matches her beauty." I said, "Hey! I'm not that smart, but then again, I'm also pretty ugly, so I guess that works!"

He, surprisingly, didn't write back...

First, let me say I am totally biased, being from Baltimore where Ft. McHenry is a major tourist attraction, so downgrading F. Scott Key's poem from being the Nat Anthem could be a blow to the tourist trade. I will also say, yeah, the language is archaic, but in the hands of someone who doesn't worship at the Whitney Houston School of Melisma, it is perfectly understandable. For years, the opera great Robert Merrill used to sing it at Yankee Stadium and it could send chills up your spine. I wouldn't expect Christine Aguilera to sing Aida, so I certain wouldn't challenge her to get through "To Anacreon in Heaven," revised. However, my late dad, a World War II veteran of kamikaze attacks and, toward the end of his life, a Reagan Democrat, used to say, "I don't see the point of singing the National Anthem before ball games . It makes about as much sense as singing 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.' "

This makes me want to see Xtina do AIDA.

And I love the point your father makes. However, I think there are good options -- America The Beautiful being the prime one, because it's totally uncontroversial and quite easy to sing.

I think it's a tacit admission of how unmanageable our anthem is that we have two or three de facto "back-up anthems" -- God Bless America, America the Beautiful, even My Country 'Tis Of Thee-- that you're forced to learn in school. At least, I was.

Wait I gave up 12 packs of bud light for 12 packs of diet coke. Now you are saying that might kill me too? Am I going to have to start smoking weed now to counteract cancer from Diet Coke?

I'm afraid it's your only option, although I've heard Four Loko has some great health benefits.

And reading too!

What? Please, explain! I'm fascinated!

How do the folks who criticized Aguilera's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" feel about Jimi Hendrix's electrified/electrifying performance of the National Anthem at Woodstock? After all, Hendrix's version is considered a rock classic now.

I love it!  Here's a link, for anyone who missed it:

There is MORE to be uncovered and he thinks disappearing will reduce the chance of it coming out.

That sounds right. Maybe this is the Craiglist "dog" that hasn't barked...

Wasn't his REAL offense lying about his age -- claiming to be only 39 when he's actually 45 or 46?

Yes, I think that's the real problem here. All those women and men out there trying to find true, accurate love via the Craigslist personals, and he goes and does a thing like that! It's a travesty really.

We're a big PAC (DoodyBooty), don't mess with us. How much does Craigslist contribute?

I don't have anything to add to this, I just wantedthe phrase "PAC (DoodyBooty)" to become part of the discussion.

Vitter had three years between scandal and re-election, lives in a redder state, and wouldn't have had to face re-election during a presidential election (Lee would have). Also, he was the diaper-wearer, not the prostitute.

Thank you for this actually cogent analysis! And for the vital correction! It would have been embarrassing for the other party involved had this gone on the record the wrong way! I'm sure PAC (DoodyBooty) is grateful also.

It's not that uncontroversial. The fact that it mentions God causes a problem - the Star Spangled Banner is less controversial because we only sing the first verse, which has no mention of religion. Sorry to bring a serious note to your chat!

Oh, right! In my mind, the song got so far without mentioning God that I'd forgotten that was even included. But you're right, God's in there, shedding grace and complicating things for everyone, as often seems to happen.

Did he see the lifetime movie about the Craigslist killer?

The big, big difference between Hendrix and Xtina is that the former, through the use of distortion and feedback, actually evoked the circumstances under which Key wrote--a deafening naval bombardment. Also, let me point out Jimi didn't try to sing it. A great musician knows his or her limitations.

Yes! And anyone who saw (or missed) Burlesque knows the difference between Xtina and a great musician.

This dude's lucky that Mubarak's regime has fallen. Nobody will dig deeper into Lee's story because they're too focused on Egypt, and by the time interest in Egypt has waned, Lee will be yesterday's news. And I guess the people of Egypt are also lucky.

Clearly, we as a chat have our priorities straight!

And reading too! [obviously I messed up the first attempt at this joke and we all know if you have to explain it (or fix a typo) it ain't funny.

That's so true, but only because of the jump that you're able to make between two unlike things linking them, and because of the innate humor in truth*

*This was supposed to be a joke where I explained the joke and it was funny because explaining a joke isn't funny, but I sort of messed it up.**

**This was an explanation of a joke premised on the idea that explaining jokes isn't funny, which I guess is kind of a meta-joke.***

***Don't you love people who say something once and it isn't funny, and then they say it again as though that will suddenly, magically, cause it to become funny?

***Don't you love people who say something once and it isn't funy, and then they say it again as though that will suddenly, magically, cause it to become funny, but also misspell it a little bit?


The last line of the last verse mentions something about "white," which is apparently a reference to the Book of Revelation. That would NEVER do for a National Anthem!

Wait, what are you talking about? The alabaster cities? Explain!

Heck, I'd never even heard of Christopher Lee till Craigslist-gate.

True! Except for the moment of confusion where we all thought Saruman might be in the House.

Shhhh! It's just a matter of time before the Religious Right starts promoting that notion.

Then for the record, I think it actually does make more sense than that, especially because the vision of Xtina singing it seems like a needless pain to bear.

Oh, yeah -- Stewart and Colbert are just champing at the bit to rise to the defense of any embattled Republican.

They might do it ironically...

There has to be MORE dirt on Rep. Lee out there for him to quit so fast. Maybe there's a photo of Sen. Vitter having sex with Rep. Lee in a diaper? And on a related note, did we ever find out how many notches Tiger Woods has on his putter?

Don't you mean on his wood?

[Am I allowed to say this, chat moderator?]

[If this chat mysteriously disappears next week, this is probably why. I blame The Man.]


Fan or not, does anyone think we will be discussing Xtina's rendition of the national anthem 40 years after the fact as we are with Jimi Hendrix? He had a statement to make and he made it. Xtina?

Yes, she definitely falls into the footnotes to history category, unless she turns up in the Craigslist pics... And probably even then.

Thy whiter jubilee!

I assume this was the part of the Book of Revelation that referred to the 2012 primaries...

Are we doing a "Weird Renditions of the SSB" thing now? Because here's Springsteen on a 12-string guitar.  Bless his little heart, but that's one of the strangest versions of the song I've ever heard. Xtina's got nothing on that.

I'm having flashbacks of changing my daughter's diapers when she was a baby. --- To change the subject to something less gross, did you notice that in the piglet castration clip on the Current channel, they cut off the clip right before they cut off the .. ahem? I don't think they had the cajones to show the whole thing.

For some reason this makes me think of the time I heard someone on BIG100 radio trying to explain what a bris was, and the best thing he could come up with was, "Well, the bris, you see, it's a little slice of life."

I hear that Palin wants the half-Ecuadorian Aguilera deported because of the way Christina sang the Anthem at the Super Bowl!

That was one of those spoof news stories, actually, but US  seems to have picked it up...

Is there some sort of enmity between former Senator Rick Santorum and former half-Governor Sarah Palin that I've missed? Would you please link to said article? I['m sure it will MAKE MY DAY!

He essentially said he assumed the reason she wasn't at CPAC was that she had a big family to attend to. Here's the quote! My colleague Ruth Marcus responded pretty scathingly.

Enjoy your day!!

..that most of the questions you are posting demonstrate deep hostility towards conservatives as a group? Isn't it time to put the myth of liberal tolerance to bed, as apparently anyone who does not hew to liberal orthodoxy is invariable labelled as dumb, evil or dumb and evil?

I think that's a reasonable point.

There actually was a study recently that showed the conservative silencing in some fields that I'm going to write on this afternoon. It's probably more than we should get into as the chat wraps up, but there is an ideological intolerance that can be neatly summed up in the phrase, "but I'm right and anyone who disagrees must be an idiot who doesn't deserve to be treated respectfully." I think it's both a liberal and conservative phenomenon, although the former seems to show up more regularly to this chat.

Also called "America", this is the perfect national anthem... except for the fact that it has the same tune as the British anthem, "God Save The Queen." How would we know who won at Olympic medal ceremonies?

That's the trouble! Maybe we could force the Brits to switch to the King's Speech theme music for Olympic purposes. I remember its being vaguely stirring...

Well, folks, it's that time again!

Thanks for reading the Compost and for making this week's chat comparatively delightful! If it had been another one like last week's, I was going to resign as President of Egypt, making things awkward for all involved.

Keep reading, follow us on Twitter, and don't email too many topless pictures of yourself to anyone -- until next week's chat, anyway! And, on a related note, have a happy Valentine's Day!

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost, a lighter take on the news and issues of the day, and she contributes to the Post editorial page. Her work has appeared in venues such as The Huffington Post, The Week,,, Collegehumor, and The Harvard Crimson. She has appeared on Jeopardy!, Showbiz Tonight and Canadian radio, and she has performed at Boston's Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection. She would love to be on your TV show, radio show, Daily Show, HBO special, or to be an honored guest (or regular guest) at your Bar Mitzvah. She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)
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