You won’t find ‘stoned slackers’ here

After the first presidential debate had been hashed to pieces by pundits and know-it-alls, I was reminded by “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” that John Kerry’s obliteration of Bush wasn’t a great achievement. Kerry beat a man in a debate who’s choked on a pretzel.

I didn’t hesitate to laugh, but an important thought crossed my mind: Am I enough of a “stoned slacker” to be laughing at this?

For those of you wondering where those quotes came from, look no further than Mr. Fair and Balanced (?) himself. In an interview with Jon Stewart on “The O’Reilly Factor,” the defender of freedom and liberty himself proclaimed the following:

“You know what’s really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true. You’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote.” He later used “dopey kids” to describe Jon Stewart’s audience.

That’s a pretty harsh stereotype for college students. Could it be true, though? No.

A little research by Comedy Central found “Daily Show” viewers were 78 percent more likely to have four or more years of college education and 74 percent more likely to have an income of more than $75,000. O’Reilly’s viewers? Twenty-four percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Now, it would be childish of me to call his viewers inept morons who have to be told what to think, so I’ll take the moral high road, and I’ll attack this as a philosophy minor.

His premise broadly states “Daily Show” viewers are “stoned slackers.” I watch it. Therefore, by modus ponens (Latin phrase roughly meaning it ain’t rocket science, genius), I am a “stoned slacker.”

If only I can remember when I got stoned. The only smoking I’ve done is second hand (believe it or not, there are people who can say that and not giggle or add, “but I didn’t inhale.”).

Well, the adjective in that phrase is shot. Now what about our friend, the noun.

I’m in the honors program. I commute from out of town every day. I referee and coach soccer. And I’m writing this article. Man, I’m having trouble finding the slacker in there.

This is the one reason why I can’t call myself a Republican (or the laughable euphemism, conservative). One of the requirements is to see the world in black and white. You’re either for us or against us. Wheat or white. There is no sourdough. I love my sourdough and nobody is going to take that from me.

Of course, by following that example, I must be a liberal atheist. I have a confession to make, though: I’m a lay speaker for the Oroville First United Methodist Church.

For those of you not familiar with this I’ll digress for a second. A lay speaker is like a back-up preacher who works for free and pinch-hits once in a while by taking some of the load off the pastor.

Also, the Methodist beliefs tend to have a very conservative tone to them. Whether or not I agree with all of them is my opinion.

Of course, I expect two things to come from this column. I’m going to be another hard-line Christian extremist, or I’m going to be a liberal Satan mongrel. My hope is a few people may understand tertium non datur (the third is not given but implied) and recognize college students as more than “stoned slackers.” There may be a few here at Chico State, but that doesn’t mean the other 14,000 students aren’t all different.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some sourdough.

Easy money – just a fantasy for the college gambler

It didn’t matter that the Panthers couldn’t overcome Favre on Monday night. By the end of the first week of the NFL season, I was already 5-10. That 11th loss was just an extra nail in my coffin. Out of 16 games, I only picked five of the winners. Thanks to my worst week ever, I would be out a whole…$0.

There are people over the years who haven’t been as lucky. America is full of stories of bookies banging on doors and bricks flying through windows. Gambling has even brought down high-profile athletes like Pete Rose and former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson. But it couldn’t happen here, right?

I consider myself a lucky amateur when it comes to picking pro football games. If I had money down, it’s a given that I would choke. Hell, I can’t even cope with a point spread.

I used to take part in the whole fantasy-football experience; picking my players, watching the statlines and screaming at head coaches to just give my running back the damn ball and get the touchdown (I mean, the receiver they threw it to isn’t on my team; ergo it is a bad decision).

I gave up on it when the reality of fantasy football tried to pounce on my empty wallet. I’m not about to drop $29.95 per team to remind myself how much I suck. Hubris is much cheaper than that (take that ESPN!), even at the bulk rate (who would need to buy more than one team anyway? A little neurotic, if you ask me).

Both the idea of picking winners and the fantasy sports craze have been stuck in the consciousness of sports, and with this comes the ugly head of gambling, which has come out of the smoke-filled basement and into the friendly lights of cable.

ESPN has found a ratings hit in the “World Series of Poker” in the last three years, the “World Poker Tour” has helped the Travel Channel and even the celebrities are helping on Bravo. With the successes of Robert Varkonyi, Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer in the WSOP (relative no-names before the tournament) people are beginning to believe that they, too, can win big money easily. This dream has led more people to Binion’s Horseshoe Casino as a blind pilgrimage.

To put this in perspective, in 2000 there were 4,780 entrants in a variety of events, according to This May, there were 2,576 people in the championship event alone; triple the number in 2003. Overall, there were 13,000 gamblers feeding a pool of over $25 million.

The one stat I didn’t see plainly stated was how many people went home empty-handed or worse off than they started. That’s the part that stays in Vegas.

With this “easy” money floating around, it’s easier to get hooked on the fast track to riches. Double a dollar eight times and you can cover a textbook or two. Eleven times and you can cover tuition for the semester. Twelve times; the year.

Making a few bucks on the side is a nice thing. At least that’s what 35 percent of male athletes and 10 percent of female athletes essentially proclaimed in an National Collegiate Athletic Association gambling study.

Some of you may be thinking this is a football thing and it doesn’t apply to Chico State, or this is a big school/Division I problem. The only problem is, the least number of responses came from the big schools. The most? Division III. Chico State is a Division II school. In other words, it’s not as bad as it could be, but it’s not in the best shape.

So take this as a word of caution: scratch a lotto, but don’t burn yourself.

Students still getting cop blocked

With Labor Day weekend passed and another chapter in the annals of tubing written, we have the same-ol’-same-ol’ issues. It’s a bunch of ruthless and awful college students getting together and partying.

Or is it a bunch of uptight cops getting agitated because people are trying to have fun? Actually it’s a little of both and a lot of neither.

The past 20 years has seen a struggle between the blowing of steam and the maintenance of a community. The first event to fall victim to this balance was Pioneer Days in 1987, which became an excuse to get drunk that then-university President Robin Wilson “took out back and shot it in the head.”

Fast-forward to 2001, when Halloween turned into a nightmare with four stabbings and more than 60 arrests. It was determined at the time that something significant had to be done. Last Halloween, downtown turned into a drenched police convention; I mean, a controlled atmosphere. Now we have drunk college students floating on water (hopefully conscious).

I would love to hear how those new Taser guns feel. I guess it beats a baton, though. The only problem is, it’s not that creative and it results in one-on-one confrontations between cops and students (and sometimes one or two cops on about 20 college students).

Here’s an idea for next year: Get a couple of banjo players and hide them in the bushes. As the students float by, they start strumming “Dueling Banjos.” Anyone who’s seen or heard of “Deliverance” isn’t going to want to squeal like a pig and will quickly get outta there (alcohol permitting).

As for the students, please raise your hand if you’re from out of town or from out of the area. Now that you’ve gotten a few blank stares wondering what you were doing, remember where you are.

The problem with people in this community, and many other college towns, is “all them college students come blowin’ in durin’ the year and take over the place and trash it.”

Wouldn’t it be great to have just a speck of credibility? Here’s an idea: Get to know some of the people around you. I’m not just talking about the other college students. Believe it or not, there are families nearby that live in this town all year. Just remember, fruit baskets are the perfect bandages, but it helps to actually talk and visit with them. You’re stuck next to each other until at least December or even May. Might as well make the most of it.

Now here comes the penultimate issue. You’ve fled from the banjos, you know the people around you, but now what? Hopefully by getting to know the locals, you have a deeper appreciation for them and the community. Now clean up after yourselves!

There is no better way to piss off both your neighbors and the police by leaving a huge mess after you party. I’m not going to go all environmentalist and hope you’ll be picking flowers with me off a greener and trash-free earth.

Instead, remember this word: community. Like it or not, if you live here part of the time, you live here all of the time. Good things reflect well on your person. Bad things come around to kick you in the butt. If you wave to people and say hey to your neighbors, maybe you’ll be able to sit down sometime.

Olympics one big reality show

I came to a conclusion while watching the Olympics; the Beijing games in 2008 will be much longer than four years away and will be even more painful to watch.

NBC confused me royally with their mammoth 24-hour 7-channel lineup. Unlike the Nagano Nightmare CBS provided with the 1998 Winter Olympics, there are events broadcast live, as well as taped and tinkered and fortified with artificial drama.

When I looked online to figure out when events would be happening, I noticed there were two schedules (actually three, including the Pacific time zone). There was a list when the actual events would take place, then a list of when they would be broadcast along with the channel they would be on.

Since these events weren’t live and there was so much to cover, there was only one answer. No, not showing the events in their entirety. We needed to edit and sanitize. We must script what we say and what we show. We can make reality bend to our whims. Oooh, oooh, we can even make our own breaks more attractive to advertisers. Yay, money!

I can’t come up with any better explanation. Why else did NBC wait to show their events until 8 p.m. on the West Coast, instead of at 5 p.m. when the rest of the nation was watching?

In case you couldn’t tell, one of my pet peeves is watching prerecorded sports. In the beginning, the networks weren’t showing any of the games because there were no networks.

Now we live in the 21st century where we can watch games safely from the comfort of our own homes. The only downside is the fact that we miss out on the experience of being in an actual ballpark or stadium. Of course, in our post-9-11-terrorists-hiding-in-our-pillows society, there’s always the thought of a big explosion getting in the way of the games.

According to the anti-terror people, we shouldn’t give in and not do things because we’re scared of terrorist attacks. According to many people’s common sense, the comfort of a television set beats trying to weave your way through security and forking out a couple hundred dollars to be one of the three people to watch the men’s badminton semifinal.

The most fun part of the Olympics is hearing about the results before the events “happen.” I love the fact that our 24-hour news networks keep us abreast of everything we should care about, and we end up with meaningless prime-time replays. There may be little nuances that might be interesting, but there’s no big reason to watch it. I haven’t watched a Devil Rays-Orioles game before. Why? Neither team has a shot at the playoffs and they’re on the other coast. And where is Team USA baseball? We couldn’t even qualify in our own national pastime.

To get our attention, NBC had to find some controversy to get people to watch. Thankfully, this was like finding mud in the dirt; add a little water and enjoy.

The big stories they used were the failings of our men’s basketball team, the failed drug tests and sudden withdrawals by athletes and the continued inability of Olympic judges to learn their numbers. I’ll address these in reverse order.

The South Korean protest in the men’s all-around gymnastics program should never have been looked at. The grievance was filed after the medals had been awarded and they reviewed videotape to help their decision. This tape, according to the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, is only to be used to evaluate judges. I missed the part where they can change the results of the competition.

The only way to settle this is for American Paul Hamm to keep his gold. Of course, that makes too much sense. Thankfully the U.S. Olympic Committee is showing some backbone by refusing to even deliver the letter from international gymnastics officials telling Paul Hamm to give up his medal.

The big story for the Greek Olympic team was the motorcycle accident their top male and female sprinters had coincidently on the same day as their drug test. After an investigation began, they withdrew.

To add to the fun, three American men swept the 200-meter — the same race sprinter Kostas Kenteris won in 2000. The crowd was rowdy at first, but after a respectful celebration by the Americans, the games returned to normal — whatever that means.

To sum up the performance of our “Dream Team” (a term that needs to go away quickly), I think Habitat for Humanity needs to give them a call. There’d be no more homeless people with all those bricks being laid up.

In short, the ratings are misleading. These were far from the best games played. Then again, I can’t really say that until we get to see the closing ceremonies around Christmas.

Check religion at bus, Wal-Mart’s door

It’s been two weeks since Mel Gibson’s movie went to DVD. No, not “Lethal Weapon 9.”

It was The Gospel According to Mel — I mean, “The Passion of the Christ.” The grace period where I would have gone to hell if I criticized the movie is finally over (at least that’s what I’ve been told).

For once I was actually looking forward to a movie being released on DVD. I wanted a chance to partake in the glorious cross-promotions God put in Wal-Mart to help people get a little closer to Him.

When else can you get a picture book that has actual screen shots from the movie based on another book (I think it’s called “The Bible” or something). The real beauty is the way the random pictures show the beauty of the selected passages from part of one book in the New Testament.

But if you want a larger part of the story, you’ll have to buy “The Passion Bible.” I’m not making a recommendation by saying, “Buy This Book.” I’m saying if you want to actually read it, you have to buy it, because it’s shrink-wrapped. After all, nobody should get a part of God’s word for free.

One plus though: Jesus’ words are in bold and red. It’s the ultimate aid to help you use the word of your new Lord and Savior completely out of context and mold it how you please.

I was disappointed to see Mattel didn’t put out a Passion Barbie. She could have been weeping at the feet of Crucifix Ken and later find his tomb open, but nobody home (cave and Ken sold separately). Alas, she broke it off with Ken and ran off with some Aussie surfer (that slut!).

I made it through the throngs and found the movie. I didn’t buy it. If I’m going to blow my money on a movie, it better have some good special features. Then again, the movie was done in Aramaic, so the flubbed lines would have been lost on me.

I’ve already read the book based on the movie and if I didn’t, I would have been filled in on the bus. Why, you ask? Well when God is hot, so are evangelical faiths preaching their word.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been entertained by a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses filling in people on the Bible on my bus ride to school. Take two parts JW and mix with some of Butte County’s finest (I don’t mean sheriff) and there can be some interesting discussions.

First there’s always the fun conversation starter. It typically flows like so:

Seller: Do you like candy?

Sellee: Yeah.

Seller: God likes candy.

Sellee: Really?

Then comes the pouncing.

There were a flurry of pamphlets and manuals flying around as each question had its answer pre-catalogued somewhere in the binder, with copies for everyone.

These were some of the grains of knowledge I gathered from the conversation: The world isn’t evil because we can read the Bible. The books of the Bible were written at different times, but they all agree.

But my favorite phrase by far: “The thing in Russia (the school hostage crisis) was a good thing.” They later tried to clarify it by saying Russia didn’t want to help in the war on terror, but now they will. Apparently, fighting terrorism is a requirement to get into heaven. Of course, when you only allow 144,000 people in (by order of the heavenly fire code, I guess) you have to think outside the box to hold that number.

There’s plenty more to the Bible than just Mel’s account. There’s also this thing called the Old Testament, which new-found Christians have been overlooking (with the exception of the Ten Commandments). While some parts may seem a little out of date (I don’t remember ever seeing Deuteronomy 23:1 enforced), it’s always important to read all the facts before making a case about something.

And please leave your religion at home when hopping on the bus. Otherwise, it’ll be a long walk home.

Media makes coverage mess

The room was packed. People would scream, clap and dance as they heard the promise of a better tomorrow. Hope sprang eternal. The tyrant would be overthrown.

John Kerry was Elijah, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed all in one long-faced body.

Some people call this preaching to the choir. How many Republican and third-party voters would you expect to find at the Democratic National Convention?

These things end up becoming paid vacations for journalists that put out just enough energy to burn the carbs from a Miller Lite. The major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, ADD, DSL, MYOB, WTF) dedicated their incredible news power to a few select hours of the convention during the evening — but not when they had their big shows on (because we all know reality TV is much more real than a live news event).

CNN had its major election coverage, which involved showing only some of the speeches and hobnobbing with one another and having a jolly good time. And then there’s the “Fair and Balanced” coverage of Fox News. It’s so fair and balanced, Bill O’Reilly can talk right over the speeches and you can hear all about them secondhand from their correspondents. (Useful information in parenthesis: the Fox News correspondent pool still has Geraldo Rivera, aka “Hey y’all, I’m faxing everyone the current locations and future destinations of the troops I’m with.” But since he’s not around to screw things up, their coverage of the convention should be better. I think.)

Of course with all of this epic coverage, there should be some kind of bounce in the polls for Kerry. Well? Hold on a second…here it comes…nope, false alarm.

The bounce has been quoted by many media professionals to be on average of 5 percent after a nominating convention. It’s almost like they used to have these “conventions” to figure out who the person would be to represent their party.

Is it me, or have there been a lot more polls this year? Thanks to the Internet and 24-hour news networks desperate for news that is easy to cover and debate, we have a new poll every other day that shows one person 3 percent ahead one day, then 2 percent behind the next. Could it be that back in the dark ages (the 2000 election) there were fewer polls taken and there was an opportunity for a larger change in the numbers?

Well according to the latest unscientific poll I made up off the top of my head, 32 percent say yes, 34 percent say no, and 33 percent say they like chocolate ice cream. Factor in Ralph Nader and ice cream falls to 24 percent.

Now here’s the fun part about polls in this election: Most of them consist of people who call themselves likely voters (50 to 60 percent of the country). About 20 percent of those people won’t vote so that leaves us with 40 percent to 48 percent possibly voting. Then factor in the number of people they ask about these polls (only a few thousand). When all is said and done, about 0.0000012 percent of nearly 300,000,000 people stated in each poll that they’ll vote for one person or the other.

In other words, screw the polls or screw covering the election in any way that would lead to an accurate one. Just think: in a few days you can watch this whole process all over again when the Republicans storm New York.

Of course if you want to see the actual action, watch C-SPAN. The only downside is you won’t see any of those evil liberals listening to their rock and/or roll and (gasp) dancing.

Up shopping stamina with 5 laws of spending

As a semi-poor college student, I am appalled by the outright boasting by stores that we will spend more money on their products than last year. I am a consumer, yes, but that doesn’t mean that after the cost of two laptops dying on me during this semester, as well as a $300 failed rebate offer, I’m going to magically spend more money this Christmas than last year.

While I may have barely enough common sense to realize this fact, I’m sure there are others who may be subjected to the fate I narrowly avoided. Christmas is out of control in terms of spending. We need change. On this date, I would like to set forth this set of spending rules:

The Laws For a Fiscally Responsible Non-Denominational Holiday (They even have a passive tone to make them sound professional)

Law 1 — Thou Shalt Spendeth With Paper, Not Plastic — This is so common sense it kills me to say it. Most people wouldn’t choose to pay an extra 20 percent all at once, yet if they get the opportunity to put off paying it or do it in smaller installments, it’s a shiny new investment. Of course by the time the last payment is due, they probably will either have whatever they bought repossessed or it’ll be in a church rummage sale.

Law 2 — Thou Shalt Not Spendeth Thy Money At Old Navy — This also applies to any of our other genial clothing outlets (i.e. American Eagle, Gap, any subsidiaries of Gap, etc). The idea of advertising is that the company spends money to attract consumers, yet people blow $100 to become a walking billboard for this crap. This would be a great way to cut spending throughout the year.

Thankfully, these companies don’t have to advertise on television or in newspapers or on giant billboards. What, they still do? Let me get this straight: not only are people paying to advertise for them, but they also have to butcher perfectly good songs into marketing parodies (and I use the term loosely)? Aren’t I supposed to die before I go to hell?

Law 3 — Thou Shalt Avoideth Best Buy Like Sinus-Drip Santa — This applies to the major sale days (fourth Friday of November, anytime around Christmas). There’s a simple marketing technique at work here. Advertise a huge deal, get people in the store, stick movies like “Joe’s Apartment” and “Breast Men” for $5 next to the 60-minute line wrapping around the store and make a few more bucks.

As a side note, they offered a 4-Megapixel Kodak digital camera for under $200. These items are in quantities of 20 to 50 per store and will be most likely sold within the first five minutes of shopping. I was tempted to say “screw you” to anyone who happened to get them, but I talked with one of the clerks and that model has been discontinued. In other words, you stood in line for hours waiting for a camera that was obsolete before you entered the store. Merry Christmas, you greedy bastards. Now that I’m in the holiday spirit, how about another law?

Law 4 — Thou Shalt Not Falleth For Phony Sales — Believe it or not, this isn’t the same as the Best Buy phenomenon. True Story: An acquaintance of an indirect relation to me bought a big Santa Claus decoration with jingle bells. Ordinarily her sensibility wouldn’t put the $20 wonder in her pocket, but it was on sale. She got a whole $2 off.

At Circuit City I saw two identical televisions. One was shiny-purdy new and was blah-de-blah dollars and 99 cents. The other was an amazing open-box value that was blah-de-blah dollars and 94 cents.

The blah-de-blah number is the same; apparently they had to replace the entire box, television and instruction manual, but they saved the tape and passed the five cents along to consumers.

This time of year, people are hit with a syndrome that shuts down the left side of their brain and takes away their math and reasoning skills. They see the word “sale” and start drooling. People turn into spending demons that must whip out their plastic to buy this lower-priced item. If somebody beats them to it, they whip out their Pok√©mon and have a battle, or at least that’s what I tell my nephews while the police sort out the carnage. Hey, it saves me a few bucks shopping for them when they develop a fear of the expensive toys. Now to deal with Yu-Gi-Oh…

Law 5 — Thou Shalt Gift Card…Responsibly — You will never be able to figure out exactly what to buy for everyone. Why not try a gift card? Just make sure you actually know the person and what they like. Don’t get a vegetarian $100 in Omaha Steaks.

If you do it right, they can be educational. Get the kids a gift card to Toys “R” Us and let them figure out how much they have and how much they spend. Afterward, they can even write you a thank-you note when they learn just how little you can get for $10 in this world.

Looking for something for that writer in your life? Gift certificates to iTunes can be sent online and can help them get that U2 collection to make them better writers. All they would need are 15 $10 donations (hint-hint, wink-wink, insert suggestive nod and shoulder jabs here).

This is only the first stone tablet of laws. Unfortunately the second was dropped and at press time, all The Orion’s writers and all The Orion’s designers couldn’t put it together again.

Give thanks for family holiday

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go.

Wait, it was over a creek and a 30-minute drive on an asphalt road to Grandmother’s house. There were trees off the shoulders, and there were the occasional cracks in the road.

My point is, for Thanksgiving there wasn’t the huge rush for the airport. Everyone drove or walked since we all lived so close.

Grandma’s house, or “South Bidwell Mansion” as we called it, wasn’t the largest house in the world. Two people could barely walk through the kitchen if they kept their elbows in, flanked by cupboards and an appliance or two. The rest of the house was about the same size, with the living room being slightly more open. Mom would point out the rooms that weren’t there when she grew up with her two sisters and I’d cringe. Now her claustrophobia makes sense.

Every fourth Thursday of November we’d try for a miracle. In this tiny house, we’d try to cram me, my three brothers, my parents, my cousins, their parents, a bunch of family we’d only see once a year (maybe twice, if somebody died) and then try to cook a meal.

In the cramped kitchen, food flew everywhere, as a six-pack of cooks would hurry around in a shoebox. Grandma would worry the turkey in the oven so it would cook itself. The rest would grab the boxed stuffing, the canned cranberry sauce and the fresh fruit salad.

The men studied inflated bladders flying through the air on television. We had an excuse. I was convinced that if I set foot in that kitchen, I’d have my head cut off, be stuffed and chucked in the oven. I was cooking myself as far away from the kitchen as I could get.

Then we’d all around a big table for a Thanksgiving dinner. All those people I previously mentioned didn’t arrive at the same time. Some were there about 9-ish, some dropped by about three or five.

We had a simple plan for the meal: Turkey done? Let’s eat.

Even when we stuck the extension in the middle of the table, there was probably enough room for maybe one person to sit. It wasn’t that small of a table; there was just so much food.

This was the one time of year where everyone would be together and remember what we were thankful for: family, food and surviving another holiday.

Things are different now. Grandma took her time, but after 12 years, she followed Grandpa to the hereafter.

That little house seemed to keep everything together. Once Grandma passed on, it was like a piece of my childhood disappeared. It had the love and care that only an 80-year-old widow and her reclusive cat could create.

That cat was the one thing that’s kept those memories alive. That little black lump of fur only came out when nobody else was home. The second he’d hear someone in the driveway, he’d sprint for the nearest empty room to hide until everyone had left.

I can’t remember the exact day, but it was in June three years ago and Grandma was in her final months. She was resting and I was doing a crossword puzzle when I felt something hit my feet.

That little furry, black turd had the gall to come up to my feet and roll over for me to rub him with my foot.

The only time he’d ever been this close was when I spent the night and I was at the foot of “his” bed. I tried to get up, but he looked at me and hissed, and I went back to sleep.

But this time was different. The moment my foot touched his side, I felt a calm come over me. That one moment made it easier in August when I got the call on my way back before leaving San Diego. That 12-hour drive went by much easier.

From that day on, I knew the holidays wouldn’t be the same, but I’d always have those years to look back on.

This Thanksgiving, take a look around the table. Enjoy it while you can. All it takes is a phone call to make the trip to Grandma’s house the last.

Sports becoming child’s play

Idiots rushed the stands, idiots came on the floor and all hell spilled loose in a melee to give both sides a huge black eye.

Whose fault is it, anyway? While much has been made of Ron Artest jumping into the stands, who shoved him after the hard foul? Who threw the cup at him after the first fracas was ended?

The fans dish it out to the opposing players and other fans with as much tact as the air coming out of a balloon. In the end, both sides would never have made it in kindergarten.

I went to a football game in San Francisco with my family. Mom is a 49ers fan, and my brother and his two kids are Carolina Panthers fans.

I’m an Indianapolis Colts fan, which makes me Switzerland. Even my Chico State sweatshirt was football-neutral. The parking lot crowds were fairly civil. Well, at least the dirt lot crowds were.

Once we got close to the asphalt parking, the future drunks got themselves all riled up, hollering, “Panthers suck.”

Honestly, can we please have a little creativity? It’s a short statement with no evidence or background. Add in the fact that it’s being thrown at a family, and the person automatically drops 10 IQ points.

Screw the Swiss option. “Get a quarterback,” I slapped across the street. No reply.

When we got in the stadium, it was the same as the parking lot — a few idiots, but mostly civil. Halftime saw the home team up 17-3 and the fans’ spirits were high.

A few penalties, turnovers and miscues later, the last-place home team was down and didn’t get up.

If only they waited to choke after the third quarter when the alcohol sales ended. At least then we’d only have angry, stupid fans — not drunk ones, too.

Instead, we had a bunch of fools drowning their sorrows and looking for someone to free their inhibitions on in different ways.

One man chose (actually his body made up his mind) to express himself all over a cement wall in an explosion of phlegm and the garlic fries he had during the second quarter. Another was simply pacing around with a look of total disbelief, muttering something about tickets and what a rip-off they were.

But the one that took the cake was the gentleman in his 60s about 10 or 15 seats away from us and three miles from the field. That didn’t stop him from screaming his entire four-letter vocabulary at the players, the coaching staff, the opposing team, the mascot, the announcers on Fox he couldn’t hear, the seagulls crapping all over the stands and all the fans who were leaving early.

He left with about six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Two or three rows up, the alcohol was taking hold and the hamsters in their heads were cranking their wheels about as fast as a dead rodent could. Flying down the stands were those familiar words: “Panthers suck, Panthers suck, Panthers suck.”

My youngest nephew is 5, and he’s a quick little guy. While the rest of us didn’t bother turning our heads to see who else was yelling, he stood up on his seat, turned around and started yelling back at them, “Panthers rock, Panthers rock, Panthers rock.”

Nothing came flying down the stands. No words, no cups, nothing. A man sitting directly behind us looked him in the eye and said, “I thought you were asleep awhile ago.” Didn’t even faze him. The kid just kept yelling up the rows at the losing team’s fans.

After the game, the man behind us said that was the only highlight of the game for him.

Ron Artest acted like a 4-year-old. The idiot who threw the cup and let his buddy take the hit for him acted like a 4-year-old. The senior-citizen idiot next to us acted like a 4-year-old.

It’s time for both sides to act like grown-ups. A kindergartner was able to show more class than any of the idiots in the dastardly Detroit debacle.

Maybe they need to go back to school, too.

Four more years bad for U.S.

What do you call someone responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of civilians?

Ready for impeachment.

If we can nail a president for lying about having his pickle tickled, then this should be a cinch.

Former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush has at least three strikes against him from The Blunder on Terror, The Great Hype and The Early Call.

More than a month before Sept. 11, 2001, Bush received a very specific memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,” detailing Osama’s desire to attack with airplanes. What was Bush waiting for, Bin Laden to slap him in the face?

After he was informed of the attack, former Arbusto Energy founder Bush took seven minutes for “My Pet Goat.” Since he doesn’t read newspapers, this might have been his only chance to prove his literacy.

Republicans praised him for not scaring the children. Bin Laden praised him for the extra time to launch the rest of his attacks.

There was only one thing that could catch little George’s attention: a shiny war. We went after the government harboring al-Qaida in Afghanistan and we pinned Bin Laden down to a few locations and we took him out.

Wait–no we didn’t. We let the most feared mastermind in the world slip away. How did we pull that one off?

We outsourced the job. We left it to a few warlords from the area, and they failed.

When you blow it that badly, you can either face facts and accept your punishment, or you can make people look the other way.

While Bin Laden was going through Tora Bora and bouncing around the Pakistan border, Bush was putting the finishing touches on the plans he had before 9-11 to invade Iraq (according to former terrorism czar Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill). Now he had excuses: terrorism and the magic of WMDs.

Saddam Hussein was an easy target for former Harken Energy Corporation consultant Bush. His daddy was targeted for assassination by Saddam. There could only be one daddy running a country with his sons governing over their own pieces of the world. Now he had documents stating that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

These documents were later found to be forgeries. The Duelfer Report, released last month, also concluded Iraq had dismantled its WMD programs after the 1991 Gulf War.

But Bush had what he wanted. He was able to pressure Congress into giving him the power to declare war on Iraq. After all, if you slide down the slippery slope of uranium enrichment lies, there’s the fear of a nuclear missile headed your way in seconds.

If that fear wasn’t enough, how about those weapons or funding slipping into the pockets of terrorists?

In September 2003, six months into the war, Bush was forced to concede, “We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Even with these facts, the war progressed for almost two months, at least according to the Bush administration. A flight suit and “Mission Accomplished” ended up being a mistake in May 2003, quickly leading the administration to say they weren’t done in Iraq, but not saying the war was not over.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

After the mission was “accomplished,” Halliburton, a company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney and from which he still receives $1 million a year, was handed a no-bid contract for reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

This is a textbook example of a conflict of interest, yet no investigation until last month.

More than 380 tons of explosives have recently disappeared from an al-Qaqaa facility. Either somebody fell asleep securing it, or our troops have been spread too thin.

Even with our National Guard reservists being called up for 18 months of emergency duty with only a day’s notice and the backdoor draft catching them when they come back, we still do not have enough soldiers.

Poland and Hungary have announced they are withdrawing. This leaves the bulk of the casualties in Iraq to America.

If we had gone through the United Nations, perhaps we could have gained more support and not bear the burden by ourselves. Since Bush decided that waiting is for wusses, we didn’t.

The Texas Rangers never made the playoffs in his term as owner.

Arbusto was run into the ground and merged into another company.

Harken’s stock plummeted one week after their consultant sold two-thirds of his stock. America’s image has been tarnished by the actions in the last four years.

The only check to balance these lies in the next four years is the media. After watching the four years of the White House Press Corp, I’ve come to one conclusion:We have to do this ourselves.