The rats who brought boobonic plague

The first catch phrase of 2004—carbs. The second—wardrobe malfunction. I know the whole Janet-Justin caper is now more than two weeks old, and I sense there is an itsy bitsy chance that you tired of it about a month ago, but you gotta admit that the resulting hydrogen bomb of hoo-hah from Ms. Jackson’s boobonic plague has been slightly extraordinary.

It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be writing about the uproar if it hadn’t parked itself in a Capitol Hill hearing in less than 10 days. Ten days! Has there been a faster investigation into anything, ever, in this country? But there it is, with the House Telecommunica-tions Committee holding a major pow-wow and wanting some solid satisfaction from Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the NFL, and Mel Karmazin, the president of Viacom Corp., which owns CBS, MTV, 4 million radio and television stations, 10,000 newspapers, the title company that holds the mortgage on your house, and the jewelry store that made Janet’s little titty-titty bang bang. The real object of this particular power lunch: to serve super-sized portions of crow pie to those accountable for this high holy super blooper, and to force those same parties to endure some of the most squeamishly pious, squirmishly zealous lectures ever handed down in the blow-harded halls of Congress.

There was one congresswoman in particular, Republican Heather Wilson of New Mexico, who used “wardrobe malfunction-gate” as the platform from which she exposed herself as a far bigger menace to the country than Janet Jackson could ever hope to be. Wilson was actually on the verge of breaking into tears as she read her tale of Super Bowl woe to Karmazin and Tagliabue, both of whom were professional enough to know that all they could do was sit there and nod in agreement at Wilson’s 19th century-style weirdness. By the time she concluded her rant, both men were undoubtedly thinking to themselves that it would be beyond wonderful if Mrs. McGillicuddy’s effing 8-year-old boy grew up to win the most promising newcomer title at the 2017 Porno Oscar awards show.

To show just how far Tagliabue was willing to play this contrition game, at one point he told the committee that for this halftime show he “would have had Andy Williams.” At that, the entire room glazed over faster than a Krispy Kreme maple bar, as a halftime dosed with “Moon River” oozed its way into the collective imagination. One expected the chairman of the committee to break the resulting awful silence by saying “OK, commissioner, there’s no need to get pissy. Let’s just cool down. Hey everybody, maybe this would be a good time to take a 15-minute break and get some air and a smoke.”

And over in Italy, Giuseppe Q. Sixpack reads about our boobonic hoo-hah, and says to himself, “They sure get into some uptight tizzies in America. Why, they haven’t been this worked up since Mr. Clinton had that pizza what’s-her-face!”