The unthinkable happened this past week. A Canadian not named Justin Bieber got more Google search engine action than President Obama, Lady Gaga, or Michele Bachmann – for real.
Rob Ford, our sainted Mayor of Toronto, achieved this remarkable feat. In an age where media attention and draft beer have the same lifespan (leaving aside the rental payments), His Worship appears to be channeling an inner and rather frightening Marion Barry as he fights the persistent allegation that he may have smoked crack with some less than sterling chaps in the darker recesses of Toronto the Good.
For Americans who doubtless see themselves as the most jaded political consumers on earth, examine this story. One admits the US political landscape and its carnival freak show feel is tough to match, a limitless cornucopia of flat out fun. If la Bachmann and that charming South Carolina ex-governor Congressman stud Mark Sanford did not exist (“hiking the Appalachian Trail”…such a cool, cool euphemism for the good old illicit leg-over) – somebody would invent them.
And so it is with Big Rob. He and his city councilor brother Doug boss something they call the ‘Ford Nation’, a supposed coalition of all decent, tax paying Torontonians tired of the ‘elites’ and ‘media manipulation’ (heard that one before, America?), hard-working boyos dedicated to ending the ‘gravy train’ driven too long by lefties, faggots (one assumes the Fords distinguish here), and all other municipal political filth. Mayor Rob rode this highly nuanced and demonstrably intellectual horse right into City Hall in the November 2010 campaign. The Ford manure is now so deep that even Hercules, who cleaned Augean stables filled with 30 years of dung would walk away, laughing at the enormity of it all.
We are the 6th biggest city in North America. Toronto has something of a rep around the globe, much like our nation at large – decent people really, maybe a touch smug sometimes, but not boat rockers, smart, decent quality of life, a nice place to visit. So…when the big man is alleged to have (a) smoked crack with some streeties on the mean northwest T.O streets, (b) there is a video of said event, (c) the video is apparently viewed by two reporters for the Toronto Star (a largish media organ here in the Great White North), (d) the said video is offered for sale at $200K, and the Gawker web site has now raised the scratch to make this buy, but the video vendors have now gone to ground – maybe because (e) a guy that supposedly is involved in this crazy caper got capped in March…the ace Chief Magistrate says nada for 7 days. Media feeding frenzy ensues – and our aforementioned Google first prize the wacky and wondrous outcome.
From their bunker the Fords eventually emerge, the local media now wired beyond belief. The Mayor tells everyone basically to F themselves, with these gentle words: “I am not a crack addict. I do not smoke crack”. The obvious present tense of the Ford rebuttal aside, there is at least a smidgen of physiological verisimilitude to the Mayor’s defence. It is generally understood that crack addicts tend to be on the skinny side, and at 5’10”, say 350 lbs, maybe Mayor Rob has the makings of the impossibility defence. His Chief of Staff and five other staff pull their rip cords, and the Mayor says the obvious – business as usual! Nothing to see here, folks! Warn the public, Your Worship…Just like the Mony Python skit where the ‘World’s Funniest Joke’ killed those unprepared to hear it – you outta warn a guy here.
Who knows where this one will end up. Number 1 on Google – take that, Obama!! And that old H.L. Mencken line much loved in this space gets its ultimate replay – the Toronto citizens that triggered the Ford Nation landslide in the 2010 elections are getting what they deserve in any democracy – and they are getting it good and hard.
 The timeless but always timely beer drinker’s gag – “You don’t buy beer….you rent it”