Like the dough-faced nerd in middle school who becomes visibly upset when you explain your theory about the homoerotic undertones of the relationship between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, Glenn Beck is basically incapable of taking a joke. That's why it was only a matter of time before the tandem nerd-baiting of Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" and Stephen Colbert's complementary "March to Keep Fear Alive" made Beck throw down his Magic: The Gathering cards and huffily storm out of the lunchroom to dab away his sad tears.
Initially, Beck's response was dismissive -- at that point, with the success of his "Rally to Restore Honor" behind him and the impending trump card of Stewart's satire not yet apparent, Beck didn't need to be too worried about it: "August 28 was a historic event for a lot of Americans," he remarked with feigned goodwill. "I hope that Ed Schultz, the AFL-CIO, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and whoever else wants to plan a march in D.C. have the same great success that we had with Restoring Honor."
But within the week, Stewart's rally has picked up even more steam than anyone might have anticipated, with a slew of Facebook RSVPs (the count's up to about 160,000 now) and a busload of media attention to match. Beck told Bill O'Reilly earlier this week that he was "totally cool" with Stewart's rally, but you could almost see the sweat beads on his pasty, milquetoast brow forming.
The facade started to crack when Colbert appeared before the Senate to testify on behalf of migrant workers, with Beck calling him "a shill for the unions," but the real outburst came yesterday, in the form of perhaps the weakest, most miscalculated rebuttal of all time:
"I don't know how this shakes out, and I don't claim to be the one who is left standing in the end. Here's what I do claim. I believe that those who play these games at this point, who are not honest, who are in bed with the special interests, who are in bed with what America knows is wrong, they will go the way of Oprah Winfrey."
Here's a translation:
"Boo hoo. Boo hoo hoo. If that jerk Jon Stewart doesn't stop it, he's going to be like Oprah Winfrey!
Presumably meaning that, should the mockery continue, Jon Stewart will soon wake to a Kafkaesque nightmare involving him transformed into a fabulously wealthy black woman and beloved television personality. Beck clarified the remarks by pointing out that Oprah is currently trailing Judge Judy in the ratings (so is he, interestingly), and attributed that to her endorsement of Barack Obama.
And yet...and yet Oprah has a magazine. And she's on the cover of every issue. That magazine sells over 2.6 million issues per month. And she gives away cars to her studio audiences.
Sounds like a terrible fate.
But really, it was pretty much inevitable that, in the face of being brilliantly satirized by some of the best guys in the political-satire game, Beck would be a whiner. The only surprise is that his blubbering is even limper than anyone could have expected.
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