Somewhere along the line, the once-boring world of American politics morphed into a basic-cable reality show, and in the process the lines separating fact from fiction and reality from fantasy have gotten a little blurred.
It’s just hard to tell anymore where one world ends and the other begins.
You’ve got comedians becoming senators and senators starring in soap operas and governors — well, we’ve got governors in bad need of governors.
For example, I’m told that people named Jon and Kate Gosselin have become the most famous couple in America. I don’t know when that happened or how I missed it — has anybody broken the news to Brad and Angelina? — but apparently it’s true. The Gosselins are so famous that they’re even exporting their hit reality show, “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” to Britain, which might be karmic payback for sending us Beckham and Posh Spice.
Sadly — and I know this only because of the headlines in a grocery store checkout line — Jon and Kate are heading for Divorceville. If I pieced together the story right, it’s because Jon had a secret affair with a woman named Rielle and there are allegations that they even made a sex tape together.
No? I have the wrong John?
Oh, right, that was John Edwards, the guy who was going to be president, the one with the wife with terminal cancer, the one who talked an aide into pretending to be the father of his love child. Sorry for my confusion — these days you need a scorecard to tell the small-j johns — you know, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Sen. David Vitter — from the capital-J Johns.
There’s John Ensign, the Nevada senator who stole his best buddy’s wife, gave her back and then allegedly got blackmailed by the cuckolded friend who demanded, well, financial satisfaction. (Ensign’s parents apparently coughed up almost $100,000 for the payoff.)
That scandal didn’t seem to hurt Ensign much in the polls, perhaps because voters in his state have been distracted by the shenanigans of their governor, Jim Gibbons.
Gibbons was kicked out of the governor’s mansion by his wife, who accused him of having a bunch of affairs, including one with a former Playboy model. The little missus apparently got perturbed at that — in his divorce papers, Gibbons asked that his wife be barred from the governor’s mansion because “being in close quarters with such a volatile person was like being locked in a phone booth with an enraged ferret.”
Speaking of enraged ferrets, back to Jon and Kate. They’ve asked the media for time out of the spotlight, although they both say they have no plans to end the lucrative show that brought them and their children such fame.
“That’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out,” Kate said. “It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow’. Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow’.”
Ooops, I got confused again. That wasn’t Kate, that was the other celebrity mom with overexposed children, cameras in her house all the time and a book contract. You know, Sarah Palin.
I wish I could remember the name of her show. I was watching it just last week — you know, the episode where she’s forced to quit her job and her husband flies in from his role on “The Deadliest Catch” to support her. It’s either the Alaska version of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” or “The Real Housewives of Wasilla.”
I’m pretty sure it’s not “The Cougar,” but I could be wrong.
Then there’s reality star Mark Sanford, whom I’m thinking must be in “The Amazing Race.” The guy loves to travel, and he’s good at it. When you think about the difficulty of what he pulled off in the last episode, it truly lives up to the billing of amazing.
First he had to dump his security detail and leave Columbia, S.C., without telling anyone where he was going; he had to hike the Appalachian Trail all the way down to Argentina carrying only a cell phone and a Bible; there, he had to bed a woman not his wife and when he got back home he had to call a press conference to confess it all.
But — and here’s the tricky part — he had to do all that without losing his job.
And I hear he pulled it off.
A few more things I’ve heard: Next year they’re holding auditions for the next round of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” It’s called congressional elections.
Producers are also planning Washington-based versions of “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy,” “Weakest Link,” “American Gladiators” and “The Apprentice,” with returning champion Joe Biden.
And stay tuned next week as Puerto Rican spitfire Sonia Sotomayor tries to woo members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on “The Bachelorette,” plus an interview with the wacky winner of this season’s “Last Comic Standing,” Sen. Al Franken.