Saturday, January 10, 2009

As Seen on TV

It looks likely that CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, will be selected as the next Surgeon General. Pop quiz: what's the name of the current Surgeon General? Actually, it's the same answer as 'what year did Coventry City last win the FA Cup?'. The position has been vacant for over two years, after Dr. Richard Carmona resigned over unhappiness with his role in the President George W. Bush administration.

You've seen the same reports I have from a variety of quarters suggesting Dr. Gupta is not, or is, depending on the perspective of the piece, the best idea for Surgeon General since Dr. C. Everett Koop or Dr. Jocelyn Elders. I'm a little confused at some of the vehemence of the opposition--it's not like we're talking Dr. Joyce Brothers or Dr "J.D." Dorian. (And what do you make of the question mark after Dr. Brothers' year of birth--they're not sure if she was born?)

But in all seriousness, why not Dr. Gupta? He's a practicing physician, whose speciality is neurosurgery and we know him, or think we do, from all those seances around the electric fire in the living room. Here's what I'm wondering: why stop there?

Rather than Leon Panetta to run the CIA, how about Kiefer Sutherland? Just don't let him drive. How about Dennis Haysbert at the Pentagon? Okay, Haysbert would be NO Robert Gates, but there's more to being the Secretary of Defense than knowing about military stuff, right? And didn't you love him in Major League? "Hats for bats" still cracks me up.

And for Press Secretary, the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine, how could we not insist the President-elect select Billy Mays? He's so good, I signed up for ESPN 360 and I don't even own a computer. And think of the money the White House would save on microphones and loudspeakers? He'd pay for himself in a month! In fairness, that guy who sells the Sham Wow is growing on me. Hopefully that disinfectant scrub will take care of that but I'll need something to dry it off.

Show of hands to support Jake Gyllenhaal for Secretary of the Interior. What a protector of the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve! Big Oil will be saying "I wish I knew how to quit you" once he picks up that harmonica. And how sad that James Brown has passed. As the hardest working man in show business, what a perfect choice for Secretary of Labor.

These are perilous times, fraught with danger and uncertainty. We need all the reassurance we can get and celebrities of the big and little screen can go a long way to lift our spirits and soothe our souls. Unless, of course, it turns out that somebody owes Joan Rivers a favor. They like jewelry on the UN Security Council, don't they?
-bill kenny

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