Because weekends mean cheap, hassle-free programming around these parts, here's a column from March of this year. No particular reason why I decided to resurrect it.
A few days ago, the weekend Today show upped the ante in the news media's ongoing competition to find the most imaginative way to scare the hell out of you for no good reason. The show did a segment on a dangerous new condition supposedly rearing its ugly head on America's college campuses:
According to a visibly shaken Amy Robach, the "disease" affects mostly young women -- leading them to skip meals during the day as a means of conserving calories so that they can spend their nights indulging in guilt-free drinking. For years you've known women who do this sort of thing by their more common name: "One Night Stands." But apparently what looks to the untrained eye like your average stupid drunk chick is in reality a sick little lamb crying out for help; lest you doubt this assessment, Today even brought in a camera-ready psychologist to attest to the breadth of the pandemic.
Which means you can now count the days until commercials for "Vodkalax, the only FDA-greased medication for the treatment of drunkorexia" begin popping up all over prime time TV.
So with that in mind -- the fear-mongering media's disease addiction as a potential platform from which to make a name for myself -- I offer up a few new combo-conditions sure to capture the attention of an already terrified nation.
All of these are real, because I said so, and all are very, very dangerous.
1. Restless Erectile Misfortune
Facts: Painful condition characterized by inability to deny desire for sexual gratification, often leading to regular placement of penis into precarious situations with little regard for consequences. Inevitable outcome includes career suicide, loss of family, respect, status, 401k, the eternal gratitude of late-night comedy writers.
Treatment: Taser belt, Venereal disease, Opposition congress
See: Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart
Facts: Severe anxiety disorder which manifests itself in irrational fear of potential terrorist attacks, leading to lack of sleep (news media excluded), loss of appetite, election of GOP candidates and willingness to believe that a 3AM phone call to Barack Obama will start a chain reaction that will end in the deaths of your children.
Treatment: Capturing Osama bin Laden would be a start.
Immune: Anyone with an IQ above that of a lamp shade
3. Cynic Fibrosis (Carlin's Disease)
Facts: Highly contagious condition typically found among elderly men; manifests itself in random outbursts of bitter indignation, extended rants regarding personal solutions to global problems, outright dismissal of anyone under the age of 40, dinner table dissertations on time spent "fighting Jerry," threats of physical violence if neighborhood kids don't get off lawn.
Treatment: Let nature take its course.
See: Your Grandfather
Immune: No one ("Just you wait til you're my age, sonny!")
4. "Santos" Intolerance
Facts: Severe anxiety disorder characterized by constant and irrational fear of Mexicans, often leading to ludicrous demagoguery, fascist rhetoric, nightly CNN show. Inevitable outcome may include mysterious death by lawn-care tools.
Treatment: Low ratings, Sudden emergence of half-Mexican child with large orange head, Righteous hand of God
See: Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo
Immune: Around 44.3 million Americans (at last check)
Facts: Sometimes diagnosed as "Bush Derangement Syndrome" (in red states only), painful and debilitating disease characterized by uncontrollable urge to vomit profusely in reaction to voice, sight, or mere mention of George W. Bush. If left untreated, illness can lead to thoughts of suicide, relocation to Canada, terminal cocktail party conversations with irritating New York pseudo-intellectuals, enrollment in Screen Actor's Guild.
Treatment: Conversation with Dick Cheney in which he uses "the dark side of the force," Waterboarding
Immune: NASCAR ticket-holders, Jack Abramoff, Jesus
(A Note to the Media: Remember that I am the official expert on each of these diseases, therefore I expect to be called upon to participate in any on-air discussion involving one or all of them. I'll be waiting for your call, Today show.)