Sunday, August 21, 2005

A foamy-mouthed rant

from the editor of this cycling enthusiasts' magazine:

A few irate letter-writers have suggested that we keep politics out of cycling here at, and we can see their points, once they've removed their Bush-Cheney 2004 caps. After all, the liars, cheaters and dopers infesting politics might teach cycling's liars, cheaters and dopers a few new tricks, and God knows it's already tough enough to tell who's on the up and up these days, no matter how much blood gets drawn or spilled.

Still, if the daily papers are going to cover the Recreationist-in-Chief's mountain-bike rides as though they were actually news, it's only right that cycling publications occasionally take note of his political shenanigans. Fair is fair.

And besides, if you snip the politics out of the much-ballyhooed weekend mountain-bike outing involving Bush and Lance Armstrong, you have no story at all, beyond two public figures scratching each others' backs, which is only notable if both are naked except for a little chocolate sauce.

Armstrong may be retired from racing, but he's still on the clock as an anti-cancer spokesman, and it's important to have the ear of the president on such matters, assuming he can keep it out of the dirt long enough to hear what Lance has to say on the topic.

Dubya is not retired, though he often acts like it. Especially this weekend, when he will spend a little time on our dime basking in the reflected glow of a Texan who is still popular with many Americans who are still alive. You can't buy publicity like that, though the White House has certainly tried. Hell, if I were Dubya, I would captain for stoker Barney Frank on a pink tandem, during a Gay Pride Ride, in prime time during sweeps week, if I thought it would draw the nation's eyeballs away from my misadventure in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan's slightly less stylish sojourn in the buzzworm-infested ditches outside my Crawford getaway.

So let's not kid ourselves here. This isn't about one good-ol' boy inviting another to drop by the ranch for a friendly ride. This isn't a case of two guys who may disagree on political issues burying their differences in the name of velo-sport. This is a photo op', what we in the news business call "a grip-and-grin," and it has as much to do with bicycling as the war in Iraq does with bringing an end to global terrorism. Armstrong is using Dubya for his cancer crusade, and Dubya is using Lance to make himself look like less of a heartless prick. End of story.

There's more after "end of story" and it's a spicy as a habanero ...

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