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October 7, 2015

TV 101: The inauguration running diary (OR: History huddled together like a gaggle of newborn puppies)

by Jay Black, posted Jan 21st 2009 10:03AM
The Dean and the Duh.I've been waiting a long time for a piece of history big enough to justify writing a running diary for this column. I thought I had it when Rock of Love: Tour Bus was announced (has one show ever advanced the cause of dimwitted, surgically-enhanced skanks more than this one?), but my editors wanted to wait until we had something just a little bit bigger.

It occurred to me last fall that Barack Obama being inaugurated would be a pretty big deal. So I called some of my friends in the liberal media and asked them to arrange for Obama to win the election, then waited patiently until yesterday. Now, after months of waiting, we're ready to roll.

The running diary starts after the jump...

(Just a quick note: I watched ABC's coverage of the event starting at 10:00 AM, so what you read might differ slightly from what you saw yesterday.

Further, the intention is for this to be a light, fun column, not a political one. To that end, we're going to be monitoring the comments pretty closely to make sure this doesn't turn into The Huffington Post. If you're a fat-cat oil executive or a neck-bearded hippie looking to start a partisan war in the comments, look elsewhere, 'kay?)

10:00: And we're off.

Charlie Gibson admits that he got the name of the designer of Michelle Obama's dress wrong. Under the Bush administration, the press was incapable of getting information right about yellow cake uranium; under the Obama administration, the press is incapable of getting information right about Michelle Obama's yellow dress. I suppose that's progress...

10:03: It's revealed that Obama is the first incoming president to present an outgoing president with a gift. ABC doesn't know what the gift is, but according to my inside sources, it was two Snuggie robes and a full order of ShamWows.

10:04: There's a choir singing. When Hillary enters, I think they ought to sing The Rolling Stones' "You can't always get what you want."

10:05: On-the-scene reporter Bill Weir describes a group of people as huddled together like a "gaggle of newborn puppies, trying to keep warm." Somewhere, Walter Cronkite considers killing himself in order spin in his grave.

10:06: Bill Weir calls the occasion a "firehose of imagery." I am now offering $1 million to the first person who is able to find any of Bill Weir's college poetry. (To his wife: "You are/to me/like a giant tub/of love-pudding.")

10:07: There's approximately one port-a-potty for every 400 people. Luckily for Washington DC officials, Obama's supporters' sh*t don't stink.

10:08: Bill Weir tries to figure out which of the people nearest to him is "wearing the most layers." On a related note: no one under 130 years old gets their news from network television.

10:09: The Bushes, Obamas, Cheneys and Bidens are having coffee together. Is it wrong that I'm more curious about this than anything else happening during the inauguration? Why aren't there cameras present for this? Has Biden spoken for 45 minutes about his favorite kind of cookie? Is Laura yelling at Dubya for bringing his Nintendo DS to the table? Does Cheney make a faux paus when he answers the question "cream and sugar?" by replying "puppy blood"? These are things the American people need to know.

10:09: It's reported that Michelle Obama gave Laura Bush a pen and a journal to help her write her memoirs. George was given finger paints and a cowboy hat.

10:09-10:15: Charlie Gibson talks to the First Lady's Chief of Staff about the transition. People everywhere wish that the Digital TV transition was scheduled for this six-minute block so that they might be one of the lucky ones who lost signal during it.

10:16: Dustin Hoffman!

10:24: We get a briefing on the security for the event from within the Mobile Command Center for the FBI. It's five TVs and what looks like a Laser Disc player. That's it? I've seen malls with more robust security command centers. This thing should look like Andy Garcia's underground vault from Ocean's 11; not the back room of a 7-11.

10:26: Magic Johnson!

10:26: There's nothing more magical than Magic Johnson trying to speak. I remember when his talk show The Magic Hour premiered and Howard Stern spent hours each morning deconstructing every second of it; it was one of the best summers of my life.

10:33: We see past footage of Eisenhower wearing a ridiculous top-hat for his inauguration. I think I speak for all Americans when I say: BRING BACK THE RIDICULOUS TOP HATS! If there's one thing that could heal the rifts of this overly-partisan country, it would be giant hatwear.

10:37: Speaking of ridiculous hats: Spike Lee!

10:41: One thing not hit by the recession: the mini American flag industry.

10:46: Biden and Cheney exit the North Portico, with Cheney in a wheelchair. Insert your own "Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life joke" here.

10:53: Four limos are driving through the streets of Washington DC. It looks like the "driving to the party" scene from Swingers. And, with that, here's my breakdown of the inauguration/Swingers parallels:

1. Bush = Mikey. Good-hearted, but somehow always managing to screw things up. You can imagine him calling Putin's answering machine eight times in one night.

2. Cheney = Sue. Angry and foul-mouthed, with a propensity to pull a 'gat out at a moment's notice.

3. Biden = Trent. Both can talk and talk and talk and talk. Also, Biden constantly refers to women as "beautiful babies."

4. Obama = Rob. A newcomer on the scene who, in the end, saves the day with a speech (or so I really, really hope).

11:01: Arnold Schwarzenegger!

11:04: We've just spent three minutes watching people mill around. Schools everywhere are suspending classes so that kids can watch the inauguration in full (presumably so they can learn that watching history live is just as boring as reading about it in books).

11:07: Another Swingers connection: Obama's speechwriter is named Jon Favreau! I think we're seeing a Kennedy/Lincoln thing happening here!

11:11: Three Vice Presidents who ran for President and failed are introduced in the background while Charlie Gibson and Michael Walden talk about something else. Yep, that seems about right.

11:18: Rahm Emmanuel, apparently forgetting that we live in a time where it's possible to electronically transmit moving pictures, makes a semi-lewd gesture to a random friend in the crowd.

11:22: Bill Clinton is introduced to appreciable louder applause than the other two former Presidents. Jimmy Carter mutters angrily that sometimes it feels like politics is just a big popularity contest.

11:30: An Obama chant starts! Clinton, wrapped up in the rock-concert energy of the moment, strips naked and begins to crowd surf.

11:36: Someone says to George W. Bush "keep up the good work" as he makes his way through the crowd. I'll withhold any kind of political commentary on that statement. Let's just look at it from a practical point of view: the guy is leaving office in exactly 24 minutes. What kind of good work can he keep up?

11:37: Continuing the hat theme: George H. W. Bush is wearing a giant fur hat that makes him look like Yukon Cornelius.

11:40: It's a sea of humanity in front of the mall. Wait, what's this? Yes, that's Forrest Gump yelling to Jenny! The two meet in the reflecting pool and begin to kiss, and the crowd goes wild!

11:43: The President-Elect of the United States: Barack H. Obama. Two million people scream like crazy. To try to understand what this might feel like, stand in front of one of your friends and have him scream at you. Now multiply that two million times.

11:50: ABCs coverage keeps putting the sound out-of-sync. Right now the entire thing feels like a Kung-Fu movie.

11:53: Aretha!

11:55: If you don't have tears in your eyes after that song, it's time to ask Dr. Noonien Soong for your emotion chip to be installed.

11:57: Did I hear that right? Is the bassist from Led Zeppelin going to swear in Joe Biden?

11:57: A very disappointing moment: it's John Paul STEVENS, the Supreme Court Justice, not John Paul JONES, bassist for Led Zeppelin. Could this be the first major stumble of the Obama administration?

11:59: Music composed especially for you by John Williams. Now that is some bad-ass mojo right there, my friends (though, if it were me, I'd be perfectly satisfied with Yo-Yo Ma doing the Cantina theme from Star Wars. That's the music I imagine whenever they show Congress anyway...)

12:05: A little flub from Chief Justice Roberts on the oath. That's understandable: he isn't really that familiar with the constitution.


12:07: Obama steps to the podium to give his inaugural address.

12:26: I'm trying to remain cynical and hateful, but it's really difficult. Does anybody else feel like The Wolf just showed up at Jimmy's house? Let's just hope he can fix this mess before Bonnie gets home from work...

(Jay Black is a writer and comedian best known as the creator and voice of the abandoned 6th Backyardigan: "Horace", a lizard with malformed genitalia. For more information on Jay or to catch one of his live shows, check out www.jayblackcomedy.com.)

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"Schools everywhere are suspending classes so that kids can watch the inauguration in full (presumably so they can learn that watching history live is just as boring as reading about it in books)."

While I laughed at many of your points, this one has a personal connection. My youngest came home from school and said, "Watching this government stuff is even more boring than when the teacher tells us about it."

The "finger paints and a cowboy hat" line had me spewing milk out of my nose and I wasn't even drinking milk!

January 21 2009 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, Jay, you whiffed on Aretha's hat, man. That was just funny on a silver platter.

That being said, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" can't hold a candle to:

1. Bush = Mikey. Good-hearted, but somehow always managing to screw things up. You can imagine him calling Putin's answering machine eight times in one night.

I'm STILL laughing at that one :)

January 21 2009 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great Pulp Fiction reference, Jay!

January 21 2009 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's a choir singing. When Hillary enters, I think they ought to sing The Rolling Stones' "You can't always get what you want."

Funniest thing I've heard all week.

January 21 2009 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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Good for you Jay. A little humor is always good.

January 21 2009 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


January 21 2009 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good stuff, Jay, but I'm surprised you missed the opportunity to mock Aretha's hat (and I'm clearly soulless since I still felt tearless at the song's end) and the creepy way the minister said the names of Obama's children . . .

January 21 2009 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anita's comment
Thaddeus Collins

Yes, I did notice that creepy line about Obama's children...That was pretty funny!!

January 21 2009 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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