A punk for president

Since it seems fairly evident that only a white male can win our nation’s highest office, I think it’s time for someone to step up. Perhaps you can guess who I think should run—though he’s made no formal announcements. The G-Man—that versatile, highly intelligent artist whose newest project explores the attack on reason in our era.

Isn’t it time for a president with an education? Isn’t it time for a commander-in-chief who can speak to the masses, exploring global warming with as much ease as he discusses the death of dissent? Who can put his finger on the pulse of a culture—and diagnose the disease?

Isn’t it time for a leader who can deliver brutally fast vocals backed by thrashing guitars, hardcore rhythms and inventive choruses?

OK, I admit it. I stole some of that last bit of description from the Bad Religion MySpace page where lyricist and lead vocalist Greg Graffin talks about his band’s recent release, “New Maps of Hell.”

Yes, the G-Man to whom I refer is Graffin—co-founder of the quintessential punk band, Bad Religion.

Hum along with me: “Because we’re animals with golden rules who can’t be moved by rational views …”

What? You thought I was talking about Al Gore? A break, give me. Al Gore doesn’t even have his own MySpace page. And though his recent book, The Assault on Reason, starts out solid enough, it soon devolves into a familiar sweeping rant against our new totalitarian regime—from the PATRIOT Act to Guantanamo to the ailing state of our cherished marketplace of ideas.

For a few minutes I raved about Gore’s book. But face it. The man’s a grad school drop-out. I’ve moved on.

Released in July, Bad Religion’s 14th CD combines brilliant lyrics with that crazed thrashing telltale BR speed. After purchasing it on the day it was released, I popped it in the stereo and immediately latched on to the fourth track, “New Dark Ages.”

“Yeah can you hear the call in our rambling land susurrations,” Graffin sings. “That can expand beyond all hope of light and plunge us into unrelenting night. A pall on truth and reason. It feels like hunting season.”

You won’t catch Gore using words like “susurration,” which I had to look up. (Noun: a soft, whispering or rustling sound, a murmur.) What, does Graffin have a doctoral degree from Cornell in evolutionary paleontology or something?

When he’s not performing for screaming teens who’ve memorized all the words to all his songs, Graffin teaches a popular class in evolution at UCLA. I e-mailed him there, asking if he’d consider a run for president. Maybe he could even allow Gore on his ticket.

I haven’t heard back yet. The band is on the road this summer, plugging its new album at Warped Tour.

Graffin apparently pledged to run for president about a decade ago—though he was then in his early 30s and ineligible for the nation’s highest office. T-shirts were printed with the motto: “Greg for President.” If elected, he reportedly told concert-goers, he would appoint band members to the cabinet.

Graffin is now 42 and more relevant than ever.

Like Gore, Graffin has written a popular and much quoted manuscript.

In “The Punk Manifesto,” Graffin describes the “punk” mindset as “the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.”

Graffin writes: “Punk is a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.”

The manifesto, about the length of an RN&R cover story, is short and to the point—as any good manifesto should be.

Gore’s book is really long.