ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Dec 06, 2011

The Compost, 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 Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. ET 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.

Past ComPost Live Chats

First off: hello!

Second off: how about that Trump debate?

Third off: but seriously, how about that Trump debate?

Furthermore, what about the Lincoln-Douglas debate between Huntsman and Gingrich, which I wish they would do in the most authentic manner possible, forcing them outdoors and into waistcoats. I'm sure the Jon 2012 girls would be up for it!

I believe Donald Trump should be allowed to moderate a Republican debate, but only if he is permitted to pick one candidate at the end of the debate and announce "you're fired" and that candidate has to withdraw from the race.

I worry that this might set a dangerous precedent, or result in a President Omarosa, but it'd be the logical next step for the evening...

Hi, Alex, Can you talk about Rick Santorum's Google problem, because nobody else is? I mean, nobody with the exception of John Stewart, Saturday Night Live, and every single one of my friends when the topic of the GOP primaries comes up. It is really a first, not only in the history of the Internet, but also in the history of political campaigns. It deserves insightful comment from someone of your mettle. For one thing, I can't even decide if it is funny or not. Please take on Gene Weingarten's mantle and be willing to issue a non-negiotiable humor assessment. Thanks!

This mantle is several sizes too large!

But Santorum.

Where to begin? I wrote about this a few months back, when Santorum made the extremely well-advised choice to attempt to use this as a fundraising tool. Here is the breakdown of what happens when you send an email out saying, "Hey, there's a strange advice columnist who is bullying me on the Internet and has made my name quite literally mud! Send money!" 1) Everyone Googles you, even people who had no idea that you had a Google problem. 2) Possibly some of them send money, but that visual will remain with them as long as they live.

This is really one of the worst things you can do to a candidate. You could see when someone was surging because he or she would suddenly be in Google trends. First Bachmann, then Cain, and now Newt.

This will not happen to Santorum, because everyone will Google him and murmur, "Eugh" and decide to give that Huntsman another once-over.

Santorum the neologism, in spite of his best efforts, is still beating out Santorum the non-neologism in the google annals.

But the flip side of this was that Dan Savage appeared strangely obsessed with Santorum in contrast to the rest of America, who ignored him unless he showed up outside our homes with his family asking if we wouldn't mind hearing him out for a minute or two.

TLDR: Funny? I think it's funny, if only to the extent that anything scatological is funny, and in the Hey-Look-We're-Actually-Getting-Away-With-This form of stunt-funny.

I wonder, though, if this will ever be able to happen again. It only works because it started years before he thought of running for president and the term was so memorably, oddly specific.

Trump as debate moderator. "Women for Cain". Newt as an "outside candidate". Mitt's ad guy admitting what he does is "propaganda". Do you ever read today's headlines and think you're actually reading "the Onion"? What does a satirist do when reality is funnier than anything you can imagine?

Get an early lunch and go off to work on my novel!

Actually, there's a mortification of riches right now, so I spend the entire day alternating yelling at the screen and typing frenetically.

Some think it's more difficult when we're living so close to the edge, but I like it; it's fun trying to figure out just how little you have to push to point out the absurdity. Sometimes all you have to do is quote people verbatim.

Gosh, it's all so obvious. Jim Henson grew up in Hyattsville, which is right next door to Moscow West, better known as Takoma Park. Then there's Elmo (even if he isn't in the movie), Amy Adams' red hair...and the only way Jason Segel gets to be a romantic lead in a movie is in a communist society where all men are officially judged equally good-looking. Why didn't I see this before?

You've delved even further than I did!

Question for everyone: is it puppetist or something to conflate Sesame Street characters and muppets? I keep wanting to, but I don't want to be the one Kate Monster yells at.

So Fox News is calling the Muppets Communist for their movie theme--trying to fight back against an oil company wanting to raze their theater to drill for oil. I have to wonder, has anyone created a Joe McCarthy Muppet, just for Fox News?

I'd watch that! He'd be terrified of the color red and keep yelling about how to identify ducks by their duck-like walking and quacking.

I did enjoy the brief Muppet Movie montage clip of Sam the Eagle working at Fox News...

A friend who is close to Glenn Beck told me that Beck was secretly given a movie script that confirms the Muppets will in fact do a revival of The Battleship Potemkim. Can you confirm this?

This appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults - a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door.

Is it OK to laugh at a commercial for breast exams when it tells people to text 9-9-9?

It is not only OK but strongly encouraged! That's great!

Last week you asked about ridiculous Christmas songs. I don't know if you've ever visited X-Entertainment (not a pr0n site, I promise), but Matt has a Christmas jukebox that plays lots of festive favorites, such as O Come All Ye Faithful-Twisted Sister I Hate Christmas-Oscar the Grouch The Hat I got for Christmas is too Big-Speedy Gonzalez I figured it might be up your alley. I'd say it's in your carthouse, but some other chatter got indignant the last time I used that word.

Oh no, the first thing it plays is "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time!" But I'm enjoying the rest.

I have been listening to all 200 of the covers of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas available on online radio in order to find an upbeat rock cover I heard two years ago and have been unable to locate since. It's been slightly rough going, but I've learned a lot about arrangement as an art.

If Kermit and Miss Piggy is allowed, can Kermit and Yoda be far behind?

Did you just conflate Yoda with the mup-- yes, I know Frank Oz is behind both of them, but that still sounds pretty muppetist to me.

If Newt Gingrich were a muppet, which muppet would he be? And is he going to hog all the black walnut ice cream?

Ooh, that's tough. He reminds me of the Count, if only because once you start him off it's difficult to get him to halt. 

Relatedly, here's a video that has been making the rounds lately. I didn't find it that funny on its face, but it's kind of morbidly hilarious when you reflect that one of the participants has been deceased for over a decade and the other one is running for president...

With Herman Cain out of the race, how do you justify your existence?

That's a question I have to ask as I stare into the mirror each morning. This is before my daily ritual (it's only been three days, but so far, so good) of breaking down into tears and murmuring, "Why, Herman, why?"

Then again, now I have to work for my keep rather than simply transcribing Cain's remarks, always an exciting challenge.

How can someone spend $100,000 to hide records? I don't spend any money, infact I don't want to lose my records, and I can never find any of my records.

I only find them when I've invited people over and they sit in underused chairs and I hear the faint crack of vinyl breaking  in half.

It's been described as "legal, but unusual." I have no idea why it would take $100,000 when all you have to do, in my experience, is drop your laptop down one flight of stairs, but maybe Romney knows something I don't.

Their headline (or a close approximation of it): Extramarital affair ends presidential campaign of man who didn't know China has nuclear weapons.

I miss that man so much!

String puppets, hand puppets, and puppets with people inside of them all have rich heritages that deserve their own special recognition. Of course, those lame finger puppets don't deserve the time of day.

Yes, and puppets made from recycled paper bags are stealing the jobs of America's cloth puppets!

I thought the Sesame Street characters were Muppets, no? Kermit appears on Sesame Street (or used to pre-Elmo).

Okay, good! I knew Kermit used to go both ways, but I wasn't sure about anyone else!

Can that quote about Gingrich stick?

I love that because it's the Emperor's New Quote -- if you say, "Well, actually, he sounds smart to me," you're automatically identifying yourself as Paul Krugman's idea of a stupid man.

is when he makes the movie!

I did see that he'd co-written the screenplay... Hey, if it worked for Woody Allen!

I think he's endearingly cheery!

One of my favorite lines in the Muppet movie was the throw-away line from Kermit to Fozzie, "Gee, your life seemed very different in the Christmas cards." Maybe Segel was responsible for that one!

I don't get it. Please explain to this dummy.

Well, 9-9-9 is Cain's trademark number, and the recent flurry of scandal around him suggests that he might be more than happy to perform a breast examination...

Plus I'm just glad the numbers have found work again, even if it's not in the venue they might have imagined.

So which one is Lincoln and which one is Douglas? And which one will argue FOR slavery?

It's a toss-up between Newt's avoirdupois and his height, but I think he'd be Douglas.

I think they are expecting Bachmann to show up and argue for slavery, but she has demurred, pointing out that that was just one petition one time and that she didn't actually mean that slavery preserved two-parent families, which is wise of her.

And yet the complementary (i.e., polar opposite) color of red is green, but green -- as in environmentalism -- is the new red. To quote Kermit, it's not easy being green...

Perhaps we can revise this muppet to be red-green colorblind so he can be equally upset all the time at what will appear to him only as shades of gray.

Why has Amy Tan written a book called "Rules for Virgins"? Isn't that sort of contradictory: virgins haven't really broken that many rules.

Maybe she wants them to make much of time. That takes discipline!

Kermit and Yoda are perfectly free to get married, as long as they marry Michele Bachmann

Oh hey, what a relevant link!


The blue haired fairy gave Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio to help him tell right from wrong. I wish Cain had a cricket.

Then again, Mulan also had a cricket, and all it did was encourage her to cross-dress.

I'm so glad you fell off the Oscar Wilde wagon. So what candidate does this describe best?  "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

Oof, that's a devastating quote! I think I saw that in one of George Will's Romney columns...

"I am trying to live up to my China," by the way, is Huntsman.

Just focus on Newt being the guy who defended his serial adulteries on grounds of his patriotic fervor (snort!). There's still plenty of mileage left in that one!

That's one of my favorite justifications of anything, ever, with the possible exception of the Marion Barry classic "[Beach] set me up!" After it surfaced I've had to spend a lot of time consumed by worry that I do not love my country enough.

Which candidate has the best hair?

I did a hair recap of the candidates earlier (Cain never ranked high, so I think the rankings are safe) but I don't think I ranked them, so gird your loins for some controversy!

1) Huntsman. Sure, it branded him as the Photoshoot Candidate, but it's distractingly magnificent.

2)Romney. Consistently excellent. Less excellently consistent, to the point that even his barber has suggested shaking it up.

3) Bachmann. Glossy and professional.

Perry. He's moved down a bit because he seems to be involuntarily greying.

Gingrich. Not terrific, but stately;  a reassuring 90s throwback.

Santorum. It's a bit flat.

Ron Paul. I mean no disrespect when I characterize this as "grandpa hair."

Herman Cain. Or rather, N/A.

Larry King wants to be frozen when he dies? I don't understand. I thought he already was frozen. I thought he already is dead.

Ha! +5

Donald Trump moderating a debate is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. So who else would be even more ridiculous as a moderator?

I think a bag of frozen peas --

Oh, more ridiculous?

Some have suggested Snooki, but as a New York Times bestselling authoress I think she would have too much gravitas.

Perhaps we could get some fictional characters to moderate the debate? I know that Donald Trump has spent the majority of his life attempting to become a fictional character through sheer force of will, but if we brought in, say, Darth Vader or Kermit or Yoda, there would at least be the potential for someone to be lightsabered or felted within an inch of his life.

I loved the Sam bit in the movie, but even more interesting was the appearance of Wayne and Wanda, "church people" (so identified by Sam) who were actually offed by a falling tree in the first season of the Muppet Show. As near as I can tell, they weren't seen again until this new movie. I guess there is something to that religion thing, after all.

You ought to alert Fox to that! See, it's not all a screed! Wayne and Wanda are there!

Who will be the Joseph Welch muppet that asks the McCarthy one if he has no sense of decency? Will he be purple, like Welch's grape juice?

That sounds like a good plan. I think we need more purple muppets! I was attempting to construct some sort of metaphor about red vs blue muppets, but Elmo kept coming along and wrecking it...

I think Sesame Street is a secret libertarian conspiracy to teach children to live on the streets on their own without bowing to any government. I bet you'll find Ayn Rand is behind the whole show.

So often the case!

This reminds me of one of the greatest things I've ever seen!

Quick order of business: next week, is there any interest in a Choose Your Own Adventure chat? An actual, honest-to-Betsy, "Behold the door to the left! Behold the door to the right!" Choose Your Own Adventure chat?  I think it might be fun...

Lady Gaga is meeting with White House staffers today. Any thoughts on her replacing Biden as Obama's running mate?

I have a lot of mainly angry thoughts about Lady Gaga after watching her video for Marry The Night, which compared unfavorably to that scene in a Clockwork Orange where they force Alex to watch images of horror because at least in A Clockwork Orange those images are accompanied by good music.

But, hey, it might add some spice to the other end of the ticket...

Last June, Newt Gingrich's entire campaign staff quit, and now he's the front runner. Do you think this would work for Huntsman?

Worth a try! His daughters have already gone rogue, and they seem wildly popular...

How about one of those Washington re-enactors that hang out in places like Williamsburg? That's assuming the Nixon head from Futurama is busy.


Or a Benjamin Harrison reenactor I once met at the Benjamin Harrison house in Indianapolis. Did you know they have those? They're like Taft impersonators but less, you know, mainstream.

Or we could get a psychic to summon the Founders and have them host the debate, although that might depress everyone involved.

Wouldn't it be nice to someday get through to the anchors at Fox News and just say, "God, shut up already"? Muppets, communism, war on christmas, I mean, seriously?

Oh, but the War on Christmas is one of my favorite traditions of the Holiday Season! It's second only to Eggnog and Things That Are Supposed To Taste Like Eggnog But Don't Really.

Aren't the Muppets Statler and Waldorf pretty reactionary?

Oh, that's true! But they're occasionally art critics, so who knows...

Thanks for reminding me of my favorite holiday film. The "Singing in the Rain" scene helps me get into the appropriate mood for decorating the tree!

Glad to help! I actually still need a tree decorating theme, since all my friends suggested was, "Uh, Star Wars, like everything else in your apartment" and I felt like I was being typecast... I was going to put a red jacket on it and call it the Royal Tannenbaum, but that seemed too quirky.

"Some have suggested Snooki, but as a New York Times bestselling authoress I think she would have too much gravitas." Wait! What?? Snooki has a book on the NYT best-seller list? Snooki??? If that is true, things are much worse than I thought. It's time to stop whining about the Muppets and run for the hills, because the End Times are truly upon us.

What's worse is I went out and bought the book.

It was a while ago, though. The title is "A Shore Thing." It's got some intensely vivid prose, in the sense that the sight of a dog's head split open with a meat cleaver is intensely vivid.

Barney the dinosaur!

And Tinky Winky, speaking of the Culture Wars!

She's nowhere near 35 yet, so it's a moot point.

Oh, huzzah! That may have been one of the sneakily smartest innovations the Founders came up with! Sure, 40 is the new 20. But the requirement that the president be drawn from the Likely Unhip category is a nice, if ultimately not wildly useful, buffer.

Lady Gaga is discussing her anti-bullying campaign with Obama's staff. Yeah, Newt, that means you.

"And Dan Savage," Rick Santorum says, helpfully.


"Just Google me. I mean, er, don't Google me."

What is that link to "greatest things ever seen"? It is blocked my computer and security is rushing down to question me for attempting to go there.

It's Atlasphere, the dating site for fans of Ayn Rand!

Sure, one can find a Benjamin Harrison impersonator. But where are the William Henry Harrison impersonators?

I used to know one, but the last time I saw him he was out talking in the rain for several hours in an inadequate jacket and I haven't seen him since.

Realistically, given Newt Gingrich's age and obesity, I wonder if he could survive a full term as President. So, who should be his VP running mate?

Two Lady Gagas?

*In retrospect I may be a little unclear as to how this age restriction works.

I still can't breathe after reading that one. Your job is safe. Herman Cain R.I.P.

Thank you! I'm taking it one day at a time!

I almost always choose the door to the left, but lately the door to the right is funnier. I say let's try it next week. Will we be using the Lincoln-Douglas format?

After this and a few other accords, I have arbitrarily decided we'll give it a squeeze, see if it works!

Because whoever has the biggest Nerf Bazooka always wins

Words of wisdom for the holidays.

All right, all, I think it's about time to pack it in, but please keep reading the Compost and feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter!

Does the term used by Cain to "suspend" his campaign leave the door open for him to be drafted as the candidate of choice? I just find it suspicious that he used that term instead of one that would be clear that his campaign and pursuit of the nomination was over.

It ain't over 'til the fat lady comes forward with allegations of sexual harassment...

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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