"Get ready, America, because you're about to choose the man—or woman—who will lead Iraq into an exciting democratic future," said Fox reality-programming chief Mike Darnell, introducing the show at a press conference. "Will it be Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the exiled Iraqi National Congress? Or General Tommy Franks, commander of the allied forces? Or maybe Roshumba Williams, the Macon, GA, waitress with big dreams and an even bigger voice? Tune in Tuesdays at 9 to see."
Describing the new show as "American Idol meets the reconstruction of Afghanistan," Darnell said Appointed By America will feature contestants squaring off in a variety of challenges, including a democracy quiz, a talent competition, and nation-building activities that will demonstrate their ability to lead a bombed-out, war-ravaged Mideast country.
A panel of celebrity judges will help eliminate two contestants each week, leaving one lucky winner the undisputed leader of Iraq at the end of the season. Viewers can participate by casting phone-in votes, although Darnell noted that voting is restricted to calls originating from within the continental U.S.
U.S. General Jay Garner (Ret.) will host the show under the auspices of the Pentagon. The three celebrity judges, Darnell said, will be choreographer and former Chrysalis recording artist Toni Basil, internationally renowned hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, and television star Kevin Sorbo.
"They really get into it," Darnell said. "Just wait until you see the fur fly between Sassoon and Basil."
Fox entertainment president Gail Berman said the network was inspired to create the show after witnessing its news division's ratings success over the past few months.
"Fox did such huge numbers with its war coverage, we figured, 'Why not find a way to keep this good thing going?'" Berman said. "I'm confident that our loyal Fox News viewers will find that reconstruction can be just as thrilling as destruction."
The first episode has already been taped in front of a live studio audience, though results will remain classified until airtime. The winner of Appointed By America will be sworn in as president of Iraq on June 24 in a gala two-hour season finale broadcast live from Baghdad.
According to Berman, Fox received more than 3,000 applicants for the show during an open casting call. While most of the hopefuls were American or Iraqi, some 600 aspiring rulers from more than 100 nations auditioned for the coveted 20 finalist spots. Contestants included a San Diego interior decorator, a Philadelphia inner-city schoolteacher, and a peshmerga fighter from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Contestant Kymbyrley Lake, a cashier from Garland, TX, said she has a "good feeling" about her chances.
"I just really believe I am going to win this show," Lake said. "I feel it in my heart that Jesus is going to grant me the chance to help all these people. Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of doing something to help bring about a more peaceful world."
Lake just might get her chance. Inside sources say she was among the top five vote-getters in the first episode, with Kurdistan Democratic Party official Fawzi Hariri and pre-Saddam Iraqi minister Adnan al-Pachachi—both early odds-on favorites—scoring low points for stage presence.
At a Pentagon briefing Monday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave his blessing to Appointed By America.
"It is great that Fox will play a vital role in post-war Iraq," Wolfowitz said. "Heck, we didn't really know what we were going to do."
... from The Onion, of course.
[I]n this moment of crisis, I should not be allowed to say the following things about America:
Why do we purport to be fighting in the name of liberating the Iraqi people when we have no interest in violations of human rights—as evidenced by our habit of looking the other way when they occur in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Syria, Burma, Libya, and countless other countries? Why, of all the brutal regimes that regularly violate human rights, do we only intervene militarily in Iraq? Because the violation of human rights is not our true interest here. We just say it is as a convenient means of manipulating world opinion and making our cause seem more just.
That is exactly the sort of thing I should not say right now.
This also is not the time to ask whether diplomacy was ever given a chance. Or why, for the last 10 years, Iraq has been our sworn archenemy, when during the 15 years preceding it we traded freely in armaments and military aircraft with the evil and despotic Saddam Hussein. This is the kind of question that, while utterly valid, should not be posed right now.
And I certainly will not point out our rapid loss of interest in the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan once our fighting in that country was over. We sure got out of that place in a hurry once it became clear that the problems were too complex to solve with cruise missiles.
That sort of remark will simply have to wait until our boys are safely back home.
Here's another question I won't ask right now: Could this entire situation have been avoided in the early 1990s had then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie not been given sub rosa instructions by the Bush Administration to soft-pedal a cruel dictator? Such a question would be tantamount to sedition while our country engages in bloody conflict. Just think how hurtful that would be to our military morale. I know I couldn't fight a war knowing that was the talk back home.
[Thanks to Christian Bök and Bill Kennedy for sending this simultaneously ... ]
The horrible truth, just in time for Terminator 3.
Are you a Commander-in-Chief who needs a name for your next military operation? Just click here to generate up to 100 at a time ...
20 Randomly Generated American Military Operation Names
1. Operation Engorged Pit Bull
2. Operation Inflamed Manticore
3. Operation Eternal Cougar
4. Operation Shining Dragon
5. Operation Oversized Fiend
6. Operation Cowboy Badger
7. Operation Destroy the Otter
8. Operation Unindulgent Emu
9. Operation Nervous Democracy
10. Operation Don't Mess With Our Sucker Punch
11. Operation Terrible Equality
12. Operation Umbrageous Djinn
13. Operation Platinum Wombat
14. Operation Unexpected Imperialism
15. Operation Bitter Mosque
16. Operation Strong Missile
17. Operation Delirious Turban
18. Operation Rioting Supernova
19. Operation Wraithlike Beaver
20. Operation Angry Ka'bah
The Onion continues its history of devastating political satire this week with almost-too-real-to-be-funny items like U.S. Forms Own U.N. (Dick Cheney: "I can't tell you how much easier it is to achieve consensus when you don't have to worry about dissent") and Sheryl Crow Unsuccessful; War On Iraq Begins ("In spite of recording artist Sheryl Crow's strong protestations, including the wearing of a 'No War' guitar strap, the U.S. went to war with Iraq last week. 'Making the decision to go to war is never easy, but it's that much harder when you know Sheryl Crow disapproves,' White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said at a press conference Monday").
[In from Bob Perelman -- pretty wild.]
Perhaps everyone has seen this Onion piece: "Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over." January 18, 2001? The 'satire' is so factually accurate that it's hard to believe the date isn't a hoax.
Here's a list of the countries that the U.S. has bombed since the end of World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:
El Salvador 1980s
In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result?
Choose one of the following:
(d) not a one
(e) a whole number between -1 and +1
This quiz compliments of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Ben Chitty USN 65-9 VN 66-7 68 NY/VVAW peaceCENTER
[I've been told by respectable sources that this is very good, but I haven't seen it myself. It's huge, 4.1 mb.]
The Bush/Blair site of the millenium:
"The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate."
... so begins this parodic 404/Not Found page for the UN Weapons Inspectors scouring Iraq. The page also offers a variety of helpful suggestions, including "Some countries require 128 thousand troops to liberate them. Click the Panic menu and then click About US foreign policy to determine what regime they will install."