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Royal Flush 

Crank Call

Last week, a reader from Williamstown, John Taylor, while acknowledging that he and I are "generally on the same wavelength," complained in Seven Days' letters column that he was tired of my "rants about Dubya and California." He thinks I "need to get back to skewering the idiots amongst us," mentioning as examples people who "think they can get real news from Fox, MSNBC or CNN" or "the couple that brings their sniveling kid to a concert because a ticket is cheaper than a sitter."

Well, Mr. Taylor, I couldn't agree more. I'm as tired as you are of Dubya and his ilk. Unfortunately, I don't watch the TV channels you mention -- I only read their Web sites. I don't go to concerts, either, don't have kids and never need a sitter -- a keeper, maybe, but not a sitter. So I'm sort of at a loss.

Mr. Taylor is a bit warmer when he suggests, "A rant about the dickless wonders who buy an H2 and pretend they are Ahnold or are cruising for Osama would also be welcome." But even here I fall short, since I don't know what an H2 is. I assume it's some kind of "vehicle," what they used to call a car, and, if so, I'm all for it -- that is, the rant.

In fact, the choking road traffic in Vermont and the not just dickless but spineless, offensive, selfish, wasteful, slaughterous and pea-brained creatures who cause it with their Hummers, Hindenbergs and Leviathans are the only things I get really exercised about at the local level. As everyone knows, however, this isn't a local problem. It's national, and I'm afraid it leads right back to Dubya and the Republican Party's debt-based, Buy-Big-and-Buy-Anything economics. And these, if only to please Mr. Taylor, are off limits to me this week.

So, bear with me while I think of a few topics that don't have anything to do with that worm in the White House.


OK, there's Prince Charles, who last week admitted to being the "senior member" of the British Royal Family who was never observed committing a terrible offense that didn't take place.

Are you with me? This all goes back to the allegation of a dismissed servant, George Smith, a man we're urged to regard as "formerly alcoholic and mentally unstable," who says he was "homosexually raped" by a "senior member" of this "senior royal's" staff. Moreover, this same "senior royal" was once spotted in bed with another male servant, canoodling or whatever royals do once they're finished bonking the help. Only none of it happened, as Prince Charles has now assured us.

I know, it's complicated -- even more when you realize that these allegations only came to light because of a taped conversation between the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and her former butler, Paul Burrell. He says that if Diana's two sons, William and Harry, had only called him on the phone, "even once," after he was acquitted of stealing her things from Kensington Palace, he would never have written his current best-selling book about her. In the meantime, no one knows where the tape is.

Whoops! The staff member who never raped the servant went to court recently and obtained an injunction preventing London's Mail on Sunday from naming him in connection with the non-crime. Whereupon The Guardian, not to be outdone, went to court and obtained permission to name him anyway -- without, however, being allowed to repeat the details of the incident that never happened.

The staff member in question is Michael Fawcett, the man who used to squeeze Prince Charles' toothpaste onto his brush and is now out of royal service, having accepted an enormous amount of money not to blab anything else.

Sir Michael Peat, the man who advised Prince Charles to sack Mr. Fawcett, is also the man who urged the Prince to come forward last week and admit that he is, indeed, the senior royal who never -- whatever. The charges are not only "completely untrue" but "risible," according to Sir Michael, which means, according to the dictionary, that they are "ludicrous, relating to laughter or used in eliciting laughter."

Indeed, these charges are so risible that they have caused "great distress" at Clarence House, where the Prince of Wales resides in London. They are so risible that "all speculation needs to be brought to an end." That's how risible they are. Camilla's had to go downstairs and thank the kitchen help for their loyalty. And both the Queen and Prince Charles' sons are said "fully to support" him in his courageous decision to come forward and name himself as the Man Who Never Did It.

Well, that took up a lot of space, didn't it? In other foreign news, the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris has announced plans to give private strip-teasing lessons to women who want to buy sexy lingerie, but aren't sure "how to achieve the best effect with their purchases."

"It's completely serious," says a spokeswoman for the store. "When a woman buys underwear it's to show it off, and you have to know how to do that. It isn't easy to take a pair of trousers off without looking ridiculous, I can tell you." (Just ask Prince Charles, who never did.)

And next time, Mr. Taylor, be glad I write about Dubya only twice a month, instead of every week -- capisce?

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