Anyone thumbing through The Guardian's (search) weekly entertainment guide this past weekend could be forgiven for spitting coffee all over the couch when they reached the television listings section.
In a weekly TV column, writer Charlie Brooker (search) launched into a refrain familiar to anyone who regularly reads The Guardian, the house organ of London's liberal left-wing. Taking on George W. Bush's performance during the recent debates, Brooker dubbed the president a "lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat."
He concluded his ditty with the following paragraph:
"On November 2, the entire civilized world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. -- where are you now that we need you?"
Sputter. Our friends the Brits, indeed.
Brooker's longing for an assassin (The Guardian apologized for it Monday, calling it an "ironic joke") is an extreme, but by no means atypical view among London's punditry class these days. Thumbing through the rest of the week's television listings in the same magazine as Brooker's column says much about how Britain's media feel about America and Bush in particular.
It's the week before the election, of course, and programmers are scurrying to get their harangues on the air while there's still some semblance of an excuse — a "news peg."
The BBC (search), Britain's taxpayer-funded broadcaster, has the most ambitious schedule of anti-American fare.
Sunday's Panorama magazine show was about how 9/11 and Bush's "war on terror" (the Beeb uses these derisive quotation marks whenever it mentions our war on Islamic fundamentalists) have polarized the American populace.
Over on BBC4 (search) the same night was "The America Debate," a political roundtable broadcast from Harvard University featuring an uncharacteristically balanced panel interspersed with hopelessly biased reports from correspondents around America (the BBC doubts America's "great Liberal tradition" will survive unless the Democrats win the election.)
Tuesday, BBC2 (search) offers us a rant in the form of a travelogue titled "Holidays in the Danger Zone: America Was Here." This week's program focuses on El Salvador, and if last week's episode on Nicaragua (the Nicas were living the Socialist dream of peace and equality under the Sandinistas (search) until big, bad America started financing the Contras (search) in the 1980s) then every problem currently faced by El Salvador is sure to be laid at American feet.
Wednesday, the broadcaster treats us to the second installment of a three-part series titled "The Power of Nightmares," which reports that a cabal of U.S. neo-conservatives (search) have fabricated the idea of Al Qaeda (search) and an international terror threat in order to solidify power. Not surprisingly, The Guardian has been lapping up this line of thinking with special reports tied to the broadcasts and op-ed columns galore about its insightful portrayal of that dubious "war on terror."
Thursday, the BBC is re-running "Who Runs America," a series which uses profiles of prominent Americans to validate every stereotype and prejudice BBC staffers have about America and Americans. A FDA official talks about how overweight Americans are. An evangelical pastor from California speaks to the country's fanatical religiosity. The CEO of General Motors addresses our love affair with gas-guzzling cars and greedy overuse of the world's natural resources. New York police commissioner Ray Kelly talks about his success fighting crime in the Big Apple "at the expense of burgeoning prison populations," and an FBI official is interviewed about how American law enforcement has run amok in the name of homeland security.
All this is to be expected, of course, from the BBC. The commercial broadcasters aren't much better, however.
Channel 4 goes for the jugular whenever it can, and this week provides plenty of opportunity. Saturday, the network visits the latest output in the "American Empire" -- Angola -- to tell how we are tightening our grip on African oil because of the chaos in the Middle East.
Monday, Channel 4 kicks off an entire month of special programming titled (cue sarcasm here) "The Greatest Democracy on Earth." The inaugural show, "The White House for Sale," sets the tone for the rest of the month with descriptions of how the country that imposes its Democratic ideals on hapless nations around the world is actually corrupt to the core.
Saturday, Channel 4 returns to that favorite topic of the British chattering classes -- those wacko fundamentalists in America. "With God on our Side" describes how ignorant, whacked-out Christians in several swing states have kidnapped the American electoral process and are leading the Beacon of Freedom inexorably toward religious extremism.
Television is not the only medium for such tripe. Newspaper op-ed pages are awash in columns along the same vein, and radio programs are not much better. The handful of dissenting voices are drowned out by the chorus of conspiracy theories, Bush-bashing and cultural stereotyping.
Americans who applaud the resoluteness of our British allies in the War on Terror would do well to refocus their applause on 10 Downing Street (search) and the British Ministry of Defense. Blair has endured a drubbing about Iraq such as few Americans could comprehend, yet he has stuck to his guns. And if this week's television fare is any indication, the drubbing will continue well past the American election and into Blair's own electoral season next year.
He's going to need all the well-wishes he can get, because there won't be any coming from this side of the pond.
Scott Norvell is the European Bureau Chief for FOX News. He is based in London.