Honey, I forgot to duck.
-Ronald Reagan (1) (speaking to his wife--after he was shot)
Some people think the first scandalous political throw down occurred roughly ten thousand years ago, involved a garrulous snake, and directly affects the eternal residence of each and every one of our souls. Maybe. Maybe not. Well, probably not. In all likelihood, some Neanderthal chieftain probably ordered a gang of prehistoric hoods to pick up a club and bash another chieftain on the head in order to steal his women and perform the Super Bowl Shuffle atop his comatose body. Either way, power struggles have been popping up all over the world for thousands of years, and in honor of America’s newly elected President Barack Obama (2), I’ve decided to celebrate those Mike Tyson’s (3) TKO Political Punch-Outs with a new 50 References column.
In case you’re new to the References righteousness, let me take a moment to explain how this will work. For the next few thousand words, I’ll play with the English language and retell a slew of decadent, distressing, and downright dastardly political truths and fables. Along the way, I’ll name drop forty-seven more famous characters, keeping track along way until you either get bored and search for naked pictures of Kate Winslet (4) or finish with the YouTube video I’ve embedded at the bottom. Sound good? Then like George Bush’s (5) tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent, I’m soon to be off…
Arguably the most distressing Biblical monarchy murder of all time, King David (6) was hanging out on his balcony when he spotted a gorgeous vixen bathing in a nearby river. The woman, Bathsheba (7), was not a whore or nudist but rather was following the ancient custom of cleaning oneself outside since indoor plumbing was not yet readily available to the people. Naturally, King David called in a few of his buddies and told them to find the mystery lady since he was G.I. Joe-nsing (8) for a BJ and maybe some fornication. To make a long, nefarious story short: David (gun shot gun shot gun shot) into her (cash register noise cash register noise cash register noise) and then found out she was married to a soldier named Uriah (9), who he then secretly had killed. Word soon got out because, well, people talk and God (10) may have installed cameras in the palace bedroom. Some crying ensued after that and Bathsheba eventually bore a son named Solomon (11) who turned out to be the wisest dude ever. All involved celebrated---except Uriah--because he was dead.
A handful of countries over in a fabled but not forgotten city, some harsh words and spears were chucked over another beautiful woman. The Prince of Troy, Paris (12), sauntered off in the night with Helen (13), the Queen of Sparta. Her sexy face and pert rack launched one thousand Greek ships and a mighty brouhaha ensued, which led to the death of Achilles (14) and various other noteable characters in Mythology. Eventually, Paris was killed in battle and his brother Deiphobus (15), who should have a debilitating disease named after him, took Helen as his own wife before, of course, being slaughtered by Helen’s first husband, Menelaus (16). The moral of the story: always go after the second hottest woman. She usually brings with her less baggage.
Our first little ditty not precipitated by female thievery, Julius Caesar (17) was viciously stabbed by his good friend and savior of the Republic Brutus (18). Of course, Caesar’s other best buddy, Mark Antony (19), went on to bone his favorite lady friend Cleopatra (20), but sloppy seconds didn’t really play a roll in Caesar’s death. Nope, it was an insatiable lust for power, which may very well be the second oldest urging behind, of course, the carnal. Basically, Caesar entered Rome with his army, inciting a Civil War and pissing off the Senate, who in turn conspired to have him killed. This eventual assassination by committee on the Ides Of March forever vilified Brutus (even though he was acting justly) and martyred Caesar--even though he was closer to Che Guevara (20) than Santa Clause (21). Sometimes the road to public distain is elaborately manicured with good intentions.
In 1519, Spanish national Hernan Cortes (22) sailed for the New World to gain riches, fame, and the love of King Charles V (23). He soon encountered the Aztec Emperor Montezuma II (24), who--in one of the most foolhardy miscalculations of all time-- mistook him for the feather god Quetzalcoatl (25). Cortes was presented with a plunder of fine gold, which he then accepted right before massacring thousands of unarmed Aztecs. Cortes went on to become Governor Of Mexico, and the Aztecs went the way of Voldemort (26) and his Death Eaters.
More than three centuries later, an actor named John Wilkes Booth (27) invoked the words of Brutus (Sic Semper Tyrannis) and murdered the sixteenth President of the United States Abraham Lincoln (28) while he was peacefully watching a play. Earlier that same night, two more conspirators, George Atzerodt (29) and Lewis Powell (30), were supposed to murder Andrew Johnson (31) and William Seward (32), respectively, but Atzerodt got a little too excited about Soco and Lime shots and Powell’s frantic stabs only disfigured Secretary Of State Seward. Goddamn amateurs. Booth should have sent Wadsworth (33) from Clue. He’s like the Mounties; always getting the right man (Mrs. Peacock (34) was a man?).
A couple generations later, my favorite President of all-time, Teddy Roosevelt (35) decided to run for the land’s highest office again under the newly constructed Bull Moose Party. On the campaign trail, he visited Milwaukee to guzzle down some Miller High Life, give the finger to the Brewers, and deliver an impassioned speech. As he stepped up to the podium, a complete idiot barely worth remembering named John Schrank (36) fired a bullet into his chest. T.R. paused, looked over the crowd and said, “Ladies and Gentleman, I don’t know if you fully understand that I have been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He then spoke for an hour-and-a-half and left to raucous applause. Kinda makes Keyser Soze (37) seem like a pussy.
And that brings us to the Teapot Dome scandal--an outrageous tale of corruption and greed which ninety-nine percent of the population knows by name only. Here’s what happened: President Warren G. Harding (38) decided to transfer Uncle Sam’s oil reserves from the Navy to the Department Of The Interior. One of the oil fields, nicknamed Teapot because of a teapot-looking boulder at its center, was immediately sold by Secretary Albert B. Fall (39) (a name like that cries guilty) to a shady contractor without any sort of bidding war. The shady contractor in question turned out to be a good friend of Fall’s, who returned the favor with an under-the-table payment of one hundred grand. Harding ended up dying soon after and Fall spent a year in jail. Then the Great Depression happened and everyone started worrying about eating and finding work instead of The Ohio Gang, which this underhanded conglomerate of douche bags was nicknamed.
Taking the ferry over to jolly ‘ol England, tabloids and papers were abuzz in 1974 after MP John Stonehouse (40) drowned in the Atlantic Ocean. He was publicly mourned for a month or so until Australian authorites discovered him hanging out in Melbourne with his mistress Sheila Buckley (41), having left Great Britain to avoid divorcing his miserable shrew of a wife. Astoundingly, Mrs. Stonehouse welcomed John back, as did the Labour party until he ended up in prison on a slew of forgery and wasting the police’s time charges. Yes, wasting a police officer’s time is a felony in England. That’s probably why they lost the Revolutionary War. Well, that and aide from France.
This is the point in the article where most writers would have probably discussed Bill Clinton (42) sticking his cigar in Monica Lewinsky’s (43) vajayjay, but we all remember that story vividly--so, let’s hit up another extramarital affair which happened a few years before. Democrat Gary Hart (44) was considered by most to be the frontrunner for the Presidential Nomination in 1988. After whispers of a little monkey business began echoing, Hart took to the New York Times, challenging journalists to follow him around and find anything indecent in his personal life. They did. And he was caught. Having sex with a woman named Donna Rice (45). On a boat nicknamed Monkey Business. Well played, sir. Well played. Bumbling idiot Michael Dukakis (46) ended up getting the nod for the Democrats and was trounced by sitting Vice President George H.W. Bush (47).
That’s it, folks. The Fifty References come on a lot stronger and quicker than you might expect. There wasn’t even time to cover John Adams (48) being called a howling hermaphrodite or German Minister President Uwe Barschel (49) being found dead in a bathtub with all his clothes on. It’s like the goddamn Tet offensive. This column barges into your tent without warning and disappears within the year. Here’s a little YouTube video to keep you occupied and ignoring your chores for a few more minutes. It’s Richard Nixon (50) bloviating about not being a crook…
Editor’s Note: Were here at Cinema Blend would like to send out our sincerest apologies to all those who read this column hoping for a swarm of interesting facts about the 80s hair metal band Scandal. We regret any confusion this may have caused.