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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Recovering Republican’s Notes from the (Conservative) Underground, or “Sean Hannity, More Like Sean WAHnity”

Hey kids! Sorry about the delay, this was supposed to be posted on Friday, but with Internet concerns at the workplace, and the photo editing required, as well as Thanksgiving shite, this came late. Nevertheless, I present to you this.

As I walked down the dimly lit street, I noticed an old friend of mine…Sean Hannity. He was wearing a brown trenchcoat, I my black p-coat. It was slightly foggy.

“Mike”, he said with a smile, “Good to see you again. Did you vote?”

“Yes”, I said apprehensively. I didn’t want to be here, but I had no choice. “Who saw that coming?”

“We did, Mike”, he said gravely, “We did.” The look in his eyes was one of sadness, yet determined resolve. He had a mission now, and there was no way of talking him down.

Sean knocked the secret knock on a door next to him in the alleyway. An eye hole slid open, and a voice that sounded like a cranky old man creaked back, “Password?”

Sean looked at me expectantly, “I assume you still know the password? It hasn’t been that long.”

“Socialism”, I replied.

GAHHHHHH!”, the old man screamed as he heard the word, and threw open the door. It was Bob Grant, and sure enough he was looking mighty old.

“Bob, this is Mike. We used to be friends. He’s interested in coming back to listen to what we have to say.”

“You voted?”, he asked grouchily.

“Yes I did”, I replied.

“Did you vote for John McCain?”



Hannity vouched for me, “It’s all right. He’s with the cause.”

I almost felt bad about getting him to lie for me…but then I remembered that he did that for a living, so he was good for it. After quelling Mr. Grant’s rage with a bottle of “socialist” vodka, Sean then ushered me into the heart of headquarters. I was back in the Conservative Underground…only this time I was spying for the good guys.

I’ve made the case that I used to be a Conservative, only to then turn tail for the Liberal perspective. During my time as a Conservative and as a Liberal, I’ve always been a person who craved information. I wanted to read the books, see the shows, and form opinions based on what had been aired out for all to see. In short, I wanted figureheads to look up to, and base my own opinion partially from the intel given to me and the American public by these standard bearers. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly just happened to be two such “standard bearers” I looked up to, thanks to the household “standard bearer”, my grandfather. Slowly though, I found myself drifting from their points of view and their methodology. I realized that maybe I’m not really a Conservative. Maybe I’ve been following what I thought I had to follow in order to live in this house. Maybe, I’m a Liberal…or a Centrist. For the record, I believe that I am a Centrist, but I probably lean towards the Liberal side.

Flash forward to this past election: I backed the Liberal candidate, Barack Obama. I felt he was the best way forward for the nation, and I genuinely liked him and Joe Biden. However, I picked up a little bit of a habit during the last election cycle…I started listening to Conservative Talk Radio again. Why would I do this, being a firm supporter of the Obama White House? Simple: I’m a firm subscriber to “know your enemy”. I like to know where my enemy is at all times, what they’re saying, what they’re doing, and how they’re going to come at me. I don’t ignore them…I covertly keep tabs on them, and mine information. That’s just how I roll…ask any of my ex’s from during my “immature asshole” years. I believe that the best, and most obvious defense against someone, or something, is just to know as much as you can know about it. That way, when the time comes, you make informed decisions based on intelligence that’s been confirmed and weathered under the most scrutinous standards. In other words…I’d have gotten thrown out with Colin Powell during the Bush Administration’s First Term.

Anyhow, as my source for Conservative talking heads, I selected WABC, because it was the most readily available source, and I knew that Sean Hannity was on there. Through Sean Hannity I also met Curtus Sliwa, Mark Levin, Bob Grant, and Laura Ingraham; fellow soldiers fighting for what would be known as “The Conservative Underground” or “Conservatism in Exile” after the November 4th election. Before such point though, these folks had a message. They had a tried and true message, something they trotted out back in ’04, but this time they added a little something to the recipe: America once again had a choice…either vote for a man who embodies Socialism and pals around with terrorists, or vote for a warrior who proved himself in the fires of battle and truly had the nation’s best interests in mind. And who was at the forefront to tell us such things? Why, WABC of course, the best source for Talk Radio in all the land. A beacon of truth, broadcasting from Midtown Manhattan for all of its constituents to hear. And who was leading the charge within this organization? None other than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the two most well known (read: publicized) radio hosts on this freedom loving frequency.

What a load of horseshit! Seriously, no matter who you listen to on WABC (at least out of those that I have mentioned by name, the concept is the same. Here are the requirements for a WABC Talk Radio show:

- Clever intro that consists of either one of your favorite songs (“Classic Rock” or “Country” only, please), or a mash up of favorite songs and political quotes cleverly arranged to either laud the host in praise or make the political figures saying the quotes look like idiots.

- Some sort of variation of the phrases “Conservative Underground” and/or “Conservatism in Exile”.

- A free trial of networking software that allows your listeners to access their work computers from their home computers. (Note: You must tell your listeners that YOU EXCLUSIVELY have this deal…even if Bob Grant kept plugging the same deal on his show before you, and even if he too has it “exclusively”.)

- Numerous plugs for The Heritage Foundation’s “What Would Regan Do?” initiative, complete with crappily synthesized drum and fife corps music that sounds like it belongs in a bad computer game from the 90’s that tried to teach children history.

- At least ONE book under your belt, about the Liberals that are ruining our society today. (Note: This standard has been updated after 9/11/01 to include that your book must be entitled something that is either patriotic or religious in spirit. Also, the requirement has been upped to 2 books.)

- Complain about the following issues once every fifteen minutes, for about ten minutes.
o Fairness Doctrine
o “Sharing The Wealth”
o “Bailout…more like FAILout” (that one I came up with myself)
o Socialism on the rise

- Clever and witty catchphrases that’ll engrain themselves into people’s minds, no matter how contrary to decency/conservative values they are.
o Suggested phrases
§ “You’re A Great American”
§ “Power To The People”
§ “Get Off My Phone You Creep”

- Plug Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse.

Now that the generalities have been dispensed, we can look at each person individually…and rip them each a new one. I’m going to save Hannity for last, because he’s a special one. Also, Rush Limbaugh will be spared because, everyone knows what he’s up to and he’s high profile to begin with. It’s “the others” that people aren’t so familiar with. Levin, Grant, and Ingraham…The Three Musketeers of Conservative Invective, the “unsung heroes” if you will. Rightfully, they’re unsung because the general nature of their shows is even too abrasive for the Republican party to draw attention to. This is where you get the really interesting stuff, the stuff that doesn’t stay on TV due to its course and sometimes insensitive nature.

We begin the night with Mark Levin, who is "broadcast from the underground command post, deep in the bowels of the hidden bunker, somewhere under the brick and steel of a nondescript building.” According to Wikipedia, Levin has acknowledged that location is his home. One could look at this as the political equivalent of some Lord of the Rings nerd podcasting, “from the depths of Mordor, past the Black Gate, transmitting through the Eye of Sauron.” Strangely enough, this could also be used if Dick Cheney ever started up his long delayed talk show, “Chattin’ with The Dick”. I’m afraid my experience with Mr. Levin is not that extensive, so I can't really say much about his show. I can only say that he does the Conservative thing well, but he really isn’t all that ire inspiring.

Bob Grant, on the other hand, is a nasty old son of a bitch. He is the embodiment of the old man whose sole pleasure in life is derived from sitting on his porch yelling, “GET OFF MY FUCKING LAWN YOU LITTLE SHITS!”, while complaining about how today’s youth just doesn’t get it. Listening to his show is the worst, simply because he doesn’t like to let people finish their thoughts. People have had some good points, or just generally tried to engage him in debate, and they’ve been met with “Get off my phone, you creep!”. Even people that aren’t being combative get the boot sometimes, again Wikipedia comes to the rescue with this little gem:

Grant: "Where are you from, Pal?"
Caller: "Brooklyn, Bob"
Grant: "No, I mean before you came to my country. Where were you born?"

Caller: "I was born here in Brooklyn, Bob."

Grant: "Yeah, right, get off my phone, you creep!"

Isn’t that precious? Someone tries to answer a question, and gets called a creep. This is the same guy who hates it when too many people open calls with the line “How are you?” This is the man who calls some women, “chickie-poo”. This is the man who continually referred to former mayor David Dinkins as, “the washroom attendant at the 21 club”. This was the man who thought that Obama wanted to be a dictator because, “he has that O flag”, which later turned out to be the flag of Ohio. By the way, good luck ever getting on his show. I tried twice, and was never even picked to be heard from. After fifteen minutes of waiting on the line, listening to endless ads. Even on a night when the call screener said, “Hold on, we’ll definitely get to you.” Mr. Grant, you sir are the creep. You don’t listen to people, you generally promote the stunting of free speech on your program, and you’re a racist. Don’t believe me? Wiki yourself and read some of those racist slurs you’ve been noted as spewing forth. Try to recall the “Bob Grant Mandatory Sterilization Program” or your continual mention of “savages”, which just happens to be your vernacular for African Americans you don’t like.

When Bob Grant’s bedtime hits, he gives way Curtis Sliwa, who is a refreshing change from the tone Bob Grant sets of the evening. Where Bob Grant has the “Cranky Old Man” tone, Curtis Sliwa has the “Tony Soprano” tone to his voice. What's funny is the only part of his show I can seem to remember was when he was talking about Joe Lieberman’s meeting with Harry Reid, i.e. “taking sides against the family”. Levin remarked that somewhere, in some massage parlor in Connecticut, Joe Lieberman was gonna get whacked like Moe Greene at the end of "The Godfather". While amusing, I found it was only parroting something I had read on “Deus Ex Malcontent”, only Levin wasn’t using the example of Fredo getting whacked at the end of "The Godfather Part II". (Which not only seems more appropriate, but is also from the superior film in the series.)

Again, we're dealing with garden variety Conservatism, nothing to get you boiled over. Fortunately, for those of you who LOVE to get angry, this gives way to the one hour late night wonder of Laura Ingraham. A fun fact about Ms. Ingraham: two distinctly noticeable persons from the other side of the aisle have had the cabinet position of “Boyfriend” in her life: Former New Jersey senator/criminal Robert “The Torch” Toricelli; and MSNBC news anchor/professional ass kicker Keith Olbermann. Both are liberals, and both are interesting choices when you actually listen to Ms. Ingraham’s show. Again, I do not remember much about Ms. Ingraham’s show, mostly because she’s on too late for me to care about rational thought. Which is exactly why I give her the benefit of the doubt…because she’s on too late for anyone to care, and her timeslot only furthers this impression because not only did WABC schedule her so late at night because she’s not a top draw per se, but they also only gave her an hour long slot. Let’s face it, after you’ve listened to The Laura Ingraham Show, you’ll be BEGGING for the Paid Programming to kick in. The only thing I do remember about her was that her show opening was the one that adhered to the standard of the “clever” opening with political quotes, musical clips, and her own shouts of “Power to the Peeeoplllleee!” Yeah…still not seeing why she’s not in a time slot before 7 PM.

This brings us to one of WABC’s “Top Draws” of the day…the guy that gets the “drive time” 3 to 6 PM slot. The guy that has his own TV show on Fox News. That’s right…Alan Colmes has left “Hannity and Colmes”, and Fox News is giving Sean Hannity his own prime time weeknight show. Television hasn’t been regaled with such an honor since the creations of “The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour”, and many of the crown jewels in the UPN galaxy like “Shasta McNasty” and “Homeboys in Outer Space”. Indeed, it could only get better if they were to announce the return of “Mercy Point”. All kidding aside, Sean Hannity on his own could be quite…well, dangerous.

A little bit on Hannity’s life, he grew up in New York, has lived in several states, and dropped out of not one, but two colleges, being cited as an “indifferent student”. What professions did this man engage in? Well, he worked in construction and bartended in the late 80’s, according to his Wikipedia page, and he only got into radio through a voluntary hosting gig at a Santa Barbara college radio station. Several years, and several shows later he would get his show “Hannity and LTBD” (Liberal to Be Determined), and would also receive his show on WABC’s drive time slot. Finally, things were looking up for him…so much in fact that he received an honorary Bachelor’s degree from Liberty University, a college founded by all around “moral compass” Jerry Falwell.

Hannity's radio show is a grabbag of interviews, callers, and corporate shilling. The only difference between Sean and any other radio host is that well, Sean has his own products to shill. He has two books (“Let Freedom Ring” and “Deliver Us From Evil”), an annual concert series (“Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concerts”, which feature American favorites like The Charlie Daniels Band, Lee Greenwood, Oliver North, and Billy Ray Cyrus.), a Book Club (which features Mike Huckabee’s latest book as its monthly selection), and Hannidate – a dating service which is “the place where people of like conservative minds can come together to meet”. If Oprah and Rush Limbaugh knocked boots, you could bet that their kid would be Sean Hannity, because not only does he pander to the Right…he also likes to make a profit and smear his name onto anything he gets his hands on. Also, Hannity is a cry baby.

One of the most ridiculous recent highlights of Hannity’s show was on his son’s most recent birthday when he talked about just how he knew his son was a Conservative. I can’t find the exact quote online, so I’m going to paraphrase here. Rest assured though, this man truly thinks his nine year old son is a Conservative. How? “When daddy cried during the election returns, you cried too. And that’s how I knew you were a Conservative like me.” I can only assume he meant the 2006 spanking that the Republicans got during the midterm elections, because there wasn’t much else for this walking Brillo pad to cry about. Instance number two: Sean Hannity was so infuriated on the night before the Election that he basically told America that if Obama won the next night, his new show opener would be played. It was a mash up of quotes and music, featuring quotes from Reverend Wright naturally, and including a new catchphrase for the Red States to digest…”Conservatism in Exile”, also known as “The Conservative Underground”.

I think such a name is an insult to any type of underground that has been institutionalized during times of fear and hatred. We had the Underground Railroad in America, the French Underground Resistance during World War II, even the railways in England are named the Underground and that’s kind of insulting because it’s a very efficient, friendly transit system. Perhaps the biggest irony though is the fact that one of the big campaign points for the Right Wing has been William Ayers, who was a member of…wait, what was that called again? Oh right, The Weather UNDERGROUND! So does this mean we’re to expect Sean Hannity lobbing bombs on Inauguration Day, while Bob Grant holds up banks for money, and Laura Ingraham claims she was brainwashed to join them and she didn’t really have anything to do with it? Are we to expect Red State voters to become insurgents?

Of course not, because whether hardcore factions of either side want to admit it or not…we all love this country the same. We just want it to go in different directions. There should be no “Conservative Underground” because there’s no palpable threat to Conservatives. If anything, the new administration would seem keen on working with them, simply because they understand better than anyone that that’s the way you have to go to get things done. Divisiveness and combativeness have had their day…it’s time to play nice and share the sandbox. Sure, we’ll all have our grudges, our misgivings, and our preconceptions…but if we don’t work through them for the better of the country, then the Terrorists truly have won.

Speaking of grudges, I’m going to end by posting this web link and recommend that you pump Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” out of your speakers really loudly as you read this and absorb it. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/25/ann-coulters-jaw-wired-sh_n_146248.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/25/ann-coulters-jaw-wired-sh_n_146248.html)

Don’t forget to sing along…since Ms. Coulter can’t.