"President Bush has authorized the drop of 15,000-pound bombs on Osama bin Laden. I believe that is the heaviest ordered drop by a president since ... well, Monica." -- David Letterman
The undeniable fact of the matter is this: for better or worse, Osama bin Laden has been a boon for the United States' late-night talk show industry. Comedians such as Letterman
and his compadres Jay Leno
, Craig Kilborn
, Conan O'Brien
, and John Stewart had
been floundering in recent months. However, the war on terrorism has ushered in a new era in monologue comedy: the Era of Osama. It has revitalized a stagnating industry and has injected new life into a series of television programs that were becoming so vapid and banal that they had virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There's no question but that Osama bin Laden gets the laughs.
"There is now a $5 million dollar bounty on Osama bin Laden. Which marks the first time in history there has ever been a bounty on a guy's head who wears Bounty on his head." --Jay Leno
Here's why I believe that it would be most unwise to kill Osama bin Laden: with him out of the picture, who would late-night comedians have to write jokes about? Obviously, comedians are no longer allowed to make jokes about President Bush. It has been demonstrated that this will no longer be tolerated
in the post-9/11 era. Making jokes about President Clinton
used to be all the rage for the Lenos and Lettermans of the country, but he isn't in office any more. The media has all but ignored all previous late-night targets, such as Gary Condit
and Al Gore
. So who is left? Let there be no doubt: Osama bin Laden, evil as he may be, is essential to the economic well-being of the late-night talk show industry.
"It was reported today that Osama Bin Laden has 50 brothers and sisters. Which absolutely shocked me because I had no idea he was Catholic" -- Conan O'Brien
I was at a meeting of the local chapter of the Lion's Club
on October 30th, and at one point the emcee stood up on stage and said, "Do you know what Osama bin Laden is going to be for Halloween
" The audience completely broke up.
I looked over to my left and there was a man who must have been at least eighty years old who was doubled over in laughter, tears streaming down his cheeks, clutching his chest and mumbling something about pills. The roaring and applauding lasted for at least three minutes. This is the kind of reaction that our late-night talk show industry depends on. If bin Laden is out of the picture, they can kiss this kind of reaction goodbye, and that could severely cripple them.
"It looks like now the military action is taking effect. They think that bin Laden's organization is starting to break down. Today satellite photos actually show the sand fleas are leaving his beard." -- David Letterman
The economic roller-coaster ride
that we have witnessed since the 9/11 attacks has demonstrated a very important point: there is no unimportant sector of our economy.
The health and well-being of the airline industry is just as important as the status of the Internet providers and the industrial defense contractors. The same is true of the late-night talk show industry. If bin Laden is "taken out", expect the stock values of Viacom (parent company of CBS), General Electric (parent company of NBC), and AOL/Time Warner (parent company of Comedy Central) to tank. These are not small, no-name companies
. They are major players in our nation's economy, and if they
go down, we all go down.
"More and more details coming out now about spoiled rich kid Usama bin Laden. Time reports this week he was one of 52 kids. Mother must be exhausted. This guy inherited $80 million at age 13 and has since expanded it to $300 million through construction, smart investments and gas and oil investments. This way, he can use the money in his war against capitalism." -- Jay Leno
For the love of God, Mr. Rumsfeld .. don't kill Osama bin Laden
. I want to be very clear about something: I am in no way condoning this man or his actions; as far as I'm concerned, he is a genocidal maniac
who needs to be brought to justice. But this country has already been through a decade-long depression, and if we want to avoid a repeat of the 1930s, we need to recognize that bin Laden, bearded freak that he is, is far more valuable to the economic health of this country alive
than he is dead
. Blowing him into millions of itty bitty pieces might "scratch an itch" for a large segment of our population, but having him rot away in a jail cell for the rest of his years will guarantee decades of future economic prosperity.
So let's not let our bloodlust get the better of us. Let's make an informed decision in the best interests of the United States, and by association, the rest of the free world. It might feel good to kill bin Laden, but the only responsible course of action is to keep him alive and guarantee the vitality of the world economy. We can lock him in a jail cell and drag the legal process on for decades with appeals and procedural nonsense. And we can keep our late-night television industry vital, which in turn will keep our general economy vital. To pursue any other course of action would be tantamount to declaring war on our children, our elderly, our pets, and our own way of life. This I cannot do.