(Somebody had to do it, but Spencer Hall slept late after spending the whole weekend at the N.F.L. draft and Sunday Morning Quarterback is taking the week off except for the occasional draft post, so, before the Black Heart Gold Pants guys beat me to the punch, I figured I'd better step up to the plate and see if I could wrest one of those College Football Blogger Awards for bringing the funny from the fell clutches of Hey Jenny Slater's Doug Gillett, who had the worst Red & Black mug shot of the mid- to late 1990s other than mine. What follows may not be suitable for the faint of heart. You have been warned.)
Lewis Black: We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising, because we have a carbon footprint the size of the Crab Nebula! By the time your grandkids take a summer vacation to Montana, Glacier National Park will be called the Big Ol' Lake Where the Mountains Used to Be. It costs more to fill up the tank of your S.U.V. than I paid for my first car, but, because using the term "Hummer" makes us titter, we keep driving all-terrain war machines in the suburbs like we're the Empire attacking the rebel base on Hoth . . . which, by the way, will be the scene from cinema you show your descendants 30 years from now when they ask what ice used to look like. Meanwhile, one of the places where they're nibbling on sponge cake and watching the sun bake all of the tourists covered with crude oil spilled from the latest supertanker disaster is the "Sunshine State" of Florida, where college football fans are all tingly over the Gators' Golden Boy, Little Timmy Tebow, who became the first underclassman to win the sport's most coveted award to cap off the screwiest season anybody's ever seen. It's about to start heating up in here, but is that the fault of greenhouse emissions or OMG! Shirtless! photos of Heisman Boy on the internet? Who is the Root of All Evil . . . global warming or Tim Tebow? Let's begin with opening statements. Patton, tell me why Tim Tebow is the Root of All Evil.
Patton Oswalt: I'll be glad to, Lewis. Ladies and gentlemen, if you're like me, or even if you're tall, good-looking, and well-adjusted enough not to need to use humor as a defense mechanism, you remember the quarterback of your high school football team, how popular he was, how handsome he was, and how he treated you like absolute crap. Tim Tebow is that guy, only he's nice, so you can't even enjoy hating his guts and sitting in the tuba section of the marching band sticking pins in a voodoo doll of him during the fourth quarter of the big game. Tim Tebow is a genetic mutant who's trying to take over the world, like one of the bad guys from the "X-Men" movies. Every time he rushes for a first down after freezing the defense by faking a handoff to himself, Tim Tebow makes female fans throughout the stands squeal like their grandmothers did when the Beatles came to town and he causes football traditionalists the torment that comes from watching all those new-fangled four-wide sets being used to establish the run. With Tim Tebow in the shotgun, college football is being transformed into three yards and a cloud of lust. Throughout the Southeastern Conference, there are a number of hated figures with double initials: Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville, Lex Luthor . . . no, wait, that's a Superman villain. Anyway, there may be no one with double initials in the S.E.C. who is more despised than Tim Tebow, and that makes him the Root of All Evil.
Lewis Black: Nicely done, especially for a cartoon rat with a food fetish. Now, for the opening argument that global warming is the Root of All Evil, we turn to the world's foremost authority in the field, despite his complete lack of any scientific background, former Vice President Al Gore. Al?
Al Gore: Thank you, Lewis. I'm very impressed with the fine arguments made by opposing counsel, and, as you know, I have every reason to consider everything about the state of Florida to be purely evil, from their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks to their unnecessarily complex butterfly ballots. Nevertheless, I stand before you to call your attention to the clear and present danger that is global warming. As I have demonstrated before, the evidence of this evil is overwhelming and undeniable. The number of category-four and -five hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years. The flow of ice from the glaciers of Greenland has more than doubled just in the last decade. Over 275 species of plants and animals already are responding to global warming by moving closer to the poles. Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Colombian Andes, some 7,000 feet above sea level. As a Tennessean, I am disgusted by the fact that Tim Tebow makes it that much more unlikely that Phillip Fulmer will be able to beat the Gators consistently, particularly in the Swamp, but, on balance, I believe we have to conclude that a renewed period of Gator dominance over the Southeastern Conference is the lesser of two evils when compared the eventual extinction of all life upon this planet.
Lewis Black: Good job, Mr. Vice President. You've been a major party nominee for president, so you know from the lesser of two evils. Judging by the applause, it seems as though the audience is on your side, but, unfortunately for you, this is yet another forum in which your popular vote majority doesn't mean jack squat. Mr. Vice President, Spence, prepare yourselves for my inquisition. Patton, Tim Tebow strikes me as a fine Christian young man. How could he possibly be evil?
Patton Oswalt: Well, Jewish Black, Mel Gibson seemed like a fine Christian young man, too, back in his "Lethal Weapon" days, but that was before he got drunk and started blaming your people for starting every conflict in world history short of the Conference Wars. Oh, sure, Tim Tebow talks a great game as the nice upstanding altar boy, but we've all seen the pictures of him picking up guys and licking his teammates and hanging out with girls with breast implants Pamela Anderson would consider ostentatious. O.K., so his parents went to the Philippines to assume missionary positions; Steve Spurrier was a preacher's kid, too, but, after he went to school in Gainesville, no one started calling him the Noble Genius, did they? Send a good kid to the University of Florida and he comes out as the spawn of Satan. Didn't "The Devil's Advocate" teach you anything? If it happened to Steve Superior and it happened to Keanu Reeves, it'll happen to Tim Tebow, too. How's that for an inconvenient truth?
Lewis Black: Thank you, Patton. Actually, "The Devil's Advocate" didn't teach me anything, because I was too busy checking out the hot redhead to pay attention to the insipid plot, but I see your point. Al, I went ice-fishing once, and it sucked. Meanwhile, everybody loves to go to the beach. I'm seeing global warming as a win-win. What am I missing here?
Al Gore: Lewis, I sense that you're kidding, and I think you know that no one enjoys a good joke more than me, but this is no laughing matter. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported "that increased frequency of heat stress, droughts and floods negatively affect crop yields and livestock beyond the impacts of mean climate change, creating the possibility for surprises, with impacts that are larger, and occurring earlier, than predicted using changes in mean variables alone." Far from being "a win-win," climate change adversely affects fiber, food, and forestry by altering the risks of fires and the outbreak of pathogens and pests, and the effects of these changes are particularly harmful to subsistence sectors at low latitudes. In layman's terms, Lewis, that's no day at the beach.
Lewis Black: I didn't understand a word of that, Skippy, but I'll cut you some slack because I'm grateful to your wife for boosting my C.D. sales by slapping one of those enticing warning labels on every comedy album I put out. All right, you've both made some compelling arguments, but it's time to extend this line of bad karma out to its inevitably disastrous conclusion. Al, you go first this time. Give me your Ripple of Evil.
Al Gore: Thank you again, Lewis. Once more, I have argued before that, if global warming continues, we can expect catastrophic consequences. Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years to 300,000 people a year. Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, which would be devastating to coastal areas around the world. Heat waves will increase, both in frequency and intensity, and we will experience greater numbers of droughts and wildfires. By the year 2050, more than one million species worldwide could be driven to extinction and the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free during the summer. That, my fellow Americans, is global warming's Ripple of Evil.
Lewis Black: Scary stuff, Al, and it's only getting worse, because, now, I'm so frightened, my digestive system has increased its emission of greenhouse gases. Patton, bring us back down to our apparently imperiled earth. Present us with your Ripple of Evil.
Patton Oswalt: Vice President Gore calls that a nightmare? Warmer weather and rising tides? Surf's up, dude! We'll all be like Patrick Swayze in "Point Break" and it'll be awesome! Me, I'd be glad to see catastrophes along the coastline if it meant ridding the world of that smirking pretty-boy lining up under center in Gainesville. If Tim Tebow is allowed to continue unchecked, Caucasian fullbacks throughout the country will begin to dream of becoming running quarterbacks, thus undermining our carefully-constructed and delicately-balanced system of racial sports euphemisms. If code words like "mobile quarterback" and "pocket passer" fall by the wayside, what will be next? Will sure-handed pass-catchers like Randy Moss become known as "possession receivers"? If that happens, the peace that political correctness maintains will break down and we'll all start talking to one another forthrightly like adults. It may sound good on paper, but try actually doing it sometime and see how long it takes you to get slapped with a restraining order and sentenced to an endless stream of sensitivity training seminars. Tim Tebow is the pin in the hand grenade of truth and, if he is allowed to slip out the way he's allowed to batter his way into the secondary, that grenade will go off and get unvarnished expression all over us. America, are you up for dealing with unexpurgated opinions like Lenny Bruce's and Howard Cosell's and Barry Goldwater's? It's like the song says, Lewis . . . sometimes, when we touch, the honesty's too much. The "T" in "Tim" and the "T" in "Tebow" both stand for Truth and Jack Nicholson was right: we can't handle the truth!
Lewis Black: Well put, Patton, in spite of the fact that your "Devil's Advocate" and "Point Break" allusions reveal that you are disturbingly conversant with Keanu Reeves's entire oeuvre. I'm greatly looking forward to the inevitable "Bill and Ted" reference in your closing argument. First, though, we will give Al Gore the chance to wrap up his case in a nutshell. Mr. Vice President?
Al Gore: John F. Kennedy used to say that "a rising tide lifts all boats." What President Kennedy didn't know, though, was that rising tides also inundate wetlands, erode beaches, intensify flooding, and increase the salinity of groundwater tables. According to the Fourth U.S. Climate Action Report, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 20 per cent from 1990 to 2004, and we now find ourselves in the dire straits projected in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, which anticipates increased risks of wildfires and of shortages of food and water, as well as the increased risk of heat-related mortality and heavy precipitation events which result in floods and landslides which cause deaths, injuries, infectious diseases, allergies, and dermatitis. These are just some of the extreme events which are coming our way if we don't address this danger, which is very real and is happening right now. In just two short years, Tim Tebow's collegiate eligibility will be exhausted, and he will no longer present a problem that keeps Southeastern Conference defensive coordinators awake at night. Now, some say Urban Meyer's spread option offense, when run by Tim Tebow, is every bit as insidious as global climate change, but I agree with former Air Force Academy defensive coordinator Richard Bell's assessment that the spread option is merely a split-back veer offense with the quarterback in the shotgun and a three-by-one set with three receivers to one side. What's more, the pounding Tim Tebow takes while running this offense is sure to wear him down and limit his effectiveness as his remaining seasons continue. Unfortunately, global warming is delivering every bit as much punishment to our planet as opposing linebackers are delivering to Tim Tebow. At this rate, neither is likely to last much longer, but, while the worst that can come from the loss of a Heisman Trophy-winning Florida signal-caller is Doug Johnson as a starting quarterback, global warming leaves the fate of the earth hanging in the balance. Clearly, the latter possibility is the Root of All Evil, unless you're a Gator fan.
Lewis Black: That was compelling and deeply moving, Al. Explain to me again how the heck you managed to lose to George Bush? Patton, you get the last word. Make it count, Bilbo.
Patton Oswalt: Vice President Gore is a man of integrity, a man of conviction, and a man for whom I voted after spending three hours on line for what turned out to be nothing. He encourages us to take the long view, to delay our selfish short-term gratification for the greater good, and to think of the future that our children and grandchildren will inherit. To that, I say, dude, we're Americans! We live in the now, man! We're going to spend that economic stimulus check, outsource and offshore every economic activity that produces an actual product, max out our credit card limits, and fiddle while Rome burns fossil fuels! Al Gore's trying to get me freaked out over crap that ain't going to happen until 2050? Hey, I'm an overweight standup comic, people; if I make it to 2010 and see whether the monolith really does help Roy Scheider and John Lithgow make peace with the Soviet Union, I'll already be living on borrowed time! Hel-lo! Am I the only one who remembers John Belushi and Chris Farley? Guys my size who tell jokes have the life expectancy of romantic poets! Well, O.K. . . . guys my size who tell funny jokes, which explains Jim Belushi's longevity. If your honor will give me a moment in chambers, I'll be happy to explain to him how I intend to use whatever time I have left on this earth to put the par-tay in ex parte. Al Gore can worry all he wants about stuff that may happen after we're dead, but Tim Tebow is an immediate threat. Carpe diem and lots of other Latin phrases I don't really understand, my friends. So what if all eleven people in Greenland decided to defrost their freezers all at once? How bad can global boring be if it's so dull? Evil is supposed to be exciting; if it were lame and morally wrong, no one would do it! Evil is about life in the fast lane, folks, and, while worldwide climate change is slow, Tim Tebow is coming at us with S.E.C. speed.
Lewis Black: Gentlemen, you've both done a fine job. I am now ready to render my verdict. Simply stated, global warming has the potential to end all life on this planet. Having met some of that life, I'm not entirely convinced this is a bad thing, but I'm willing to treat it as a net negative for the sake of argument. If we define "evil" as including anyone whose leg I'd like to see snapped in two on live television like Joe Theismann's, then, my, oh, my, Tim Tebow must be the most evil thing ever. Then again, global warming and Tim Tebow may be equally evil, since, after all, they both encourage the wearing of jorts. At the end of the day, though, I think about all these melting glaciers, rising tides, massive heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, food shortages, and mass extinctions of multiple species, and I think, que sera sera, but those insufferable Gator fans getting to gloat over another national championship and another Heisman Trophy after going nearly 60 years without winning so much as a single official S.E.C. title? That I couldn't tolerate. Yeah, I guess it'd be nice to save the planet and all, but I never looked good in Birkenstocks and tofu makes me gag. Getting the chance to punch Tim Tebow right in the kisser? That would be Kyoto cool. I find that Tim Tebow is the Root of All Evil and I sentence him to spend eternity watching me wiggle my fanny in an end-zone dance as I incur ever-increasing excessive-celebration penalties which will allow me to drag Little Timmy down with me as the refs push us back as far as the seventh circle of Dante's Inferno. Well, that's all the time we have tonight, folks. We'll see you next week, when Greg Giraldo and Doug Benson will go round and round over which is the Root of All Evil, Paul Wolfowitz or Rule 3-2-5-e.