I watched the U.S. and Canadian political debates on consecutive nights this week.
One was like dining on boiled kale, the other akin to pigging out on corndogs at a carnival.
Both left me queasy.
The Americans gathered Wednesday in Simi Valley, California, best known as the place where a mostly white jury acquitted the cops who pounded on Rodney King.
The CNN set at the Reagan Library was bright and sparkly. The backdrop was the Gipper’s gleaming Air Force One.
The cameras focused on the 11 Republicans, as well as the audience, which applauded and laughed a lot. (More than 25 times, by CNN’s count.)
A creepy highlight of the three hours was Trump and Bush slapping a low-five.
The Canadians assembled Thursday in the Palomino Room of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park in Calgary.
Four dull men on a dusky set, the only color the giant, red logo of the debate’s sponsor, the Globe and Mail.
The audience sat in the dark, never seen, rarely heard.
Over 90 minutes, Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau sometimes sounded like actors in an Altman movie, talking at the same time.
The moderator, Globe editor-in-chief David Walmsley, began: “With the country struggling to find its economic mojo, we have some tough questions for the leaders this evening.”
Sorry, but mojo doesn’t scan with an old sod accent.
Trudeau opened with: “Are you better off now than you were 10 years ago when Stephen Harper became prime minister?”
A Trudeau stealing a line from Reagan. Papa is rolling over in St-Rémi-de-Napierville Cemetery.
Trudeau: “Mr. Harper may not see what’s going on from 24 Sussex Drive, but I do.”
No doubt. You grew up there.
Walmsley: “Mr. Mulcair, you’re hearing a good ding-dong between these two, where are you?”
Mulcair: “I’m going to try and ring their bell.”
Ding dong? Bell ringing? Is this The Wizard of Oz? The Hunchback of Notre Dame?
The only audible laughter from the unseen audience came when Harper responded to Mulcair’s accusation the PM held a “secret meeting” with the media.
Harper: “I’m not sure how you have a secret meeting with the media.”
Walmsley: “We wish.”
This debate may have fulfilled your wish since it was not aired on network TV.
The night before, the Capricious News Network solicited gag lines with a couple of questions.
CNN quizmaster Jake Tapper: “Earlier this year, the Treasury Department announced that a woman will appear on the $10 bill. What woman would you like to see on the $10 bill?”
Rand Paul: “I think Susan B. Anthony might be a good choice.”
So, you’d put your hero and namesake, Ayn Rand, on the $100 bill?
Mike Huckabee: “That’s an easy one. I’d put my wife on there.”
Nice to hear a holy-roller cracker doing Henny Youngman: Take my wife. Please.
Marco Rubio: “Rosa Parks, an everyday American that changed the course of history.”
What’s wrong with your wife?
Ted Cruz: “I very much agree with Marco that it should be Rosa Parks.”
Just what you’d expect from a Cuban boy from Calgary.
Ben Carson: “I’d put my mother on there.”
Is this to get back at Tapper for mistakenly offering condolences this summer on your mother’s death?
Donald Trump: “I think my daughter, Ivanka.”
Did she strike a blow for uncivil rights by refusing to move to the back of your pimped-out plane?
Jeb Bush: “Margaret Thatcher.”
You still mad at your mom for saying Americans are sick of Bushes in the White House?
Scott Walker: “I’d pick Clara Barton … she was a great founder of the Red Cross.”
Nurse Ratched is better suited for this crowd.
Carly Fiorina: “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill.”
Just burn them on the printer picked up at your HP fire sale.
John Kasich: “I would pick Mother Teresa.”
In God We Trust isn’t enough on the flip side?
Chris Christie: “I think the Adams family has been shorted in the currency business … So I would put Abigail Adams on the bill.”
“Some good entries, if anybody at the mint was listening,” Tapper said. “Here’s the next lighthearted question:
“You all know that the United States Secret Service uses codenames for the president …What would you want your Secret Service codename to be?”
Christie: “I would just say True Heart.”
Truly cardiac arresting.
Kasich: “Well, I have one now. My detail calls me Unit One.”
As a unit of measurement, your poll numbers are a mile behind the leader of the pack.
The horse? Or are you a big fan of the Maharashtra Mumbai Secretariat?
Walker: “Harley. I love riding Harleys.”
And what would the Secret Service call Vice President Sonny Barger?
Bush: “Eveready – it’s very high energy.”
Would Cheney be working the controls for you too?
Is dickhead already taken?
Carson: “One Nation.”
Not Sonya, your mother, since Tapper killed her?
Cruz: “As a Cuban, I might go with Cohiba.”
You do know where Clinton’s cigars ended up in the White House.
Rubio: “I want my codename to be Gator.”
Another reptilian Republican.
Huckabee: “I’d go with Duck Hunter.”
Sucking up to the Schmuck Dynasty.
Paul: “Justice Never Sleeps.”
Which justice? Clarence Thomas? Is he still up all night watching porn?