Pass the Wild Turkey

If you had been a member of the Plymouth colony 380 years ago, you wouldn't have had much to be thankful for that first Thanksgiving.

About half of your fellow citizens would have died the previous winter, and the future would still be uncertain.

But you would have still sat down to a meal of roast geese, ducks and wild turkeys, served with succotash and cornmeal bread and a variety of beverages, and everyone — European and Native American alike — would have sat together and looked on the bright side.

If you're a citizen of the United States, you haven't got much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Not even half of your fellow citizens voted as you did for president of the United States, and the future is uncertain.

So what we all should do is pour ourselves glasses of Wild Turkey, thaw out some free-range turkeys and sweet potatoes, open cans of cranberry sauce and sit down. Republican and Democrats. Network-news watchers and cable-news fans. Bourbon fans and teetotalers. We should all sit down and look on the bright side.

For example:

•   It'll be another three years, eleven months and two weeks before Dan Rather fills up an entire evening of CBS prime time with backwater hillbilly metaphors.

The almost breathtaking inappropriateness of his comparisons made even a national election take on the dignity of a Hee-Haw rerun on The Nashville Network. I don't know how the rest o' you folks feel, but ah'm 'bout as relieved as a slow-footed polecat at a convention o' vegetarians!

•   In being forced to cover the aftermath of the election, the network news magazines have had to cut back on their usual quota of luridly irrelevant tabloid stories.

Oh sure, Dateline NBC managed to get in a piece on a real-life murder case of so aberrant a nature as to be pointless, as well as to report on the third birthday of the McGaughey septuplets.

And ABC's 20/20 found time to examine both male impotence and that most potent of males, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who enlightened the republic with his views on cloning, about which virtually everyone in my social circle has long wondered.

But these shows have also had to examine the ongoing race for the White House, the litigation and the threatened lawsuits, the chad and the butterflies, and the mechanics of tabulating democracy's choices.

They have had, in other words, to pay attention to the ploddingly important as well as the splashily meaningless, and I don't know how the rest o' you folks feel, but ah'm 'bout as grateful as a ... Oops, sorry, forgot myself.

•   C-SPAN is getting funny. Well, maybe less unfunny. The network that sometimes goes so far as to give "substance" a bad name is now resorting to the occasional comedy clip.

Just the other day, it showed a scene from Saturday Night Live in which Will Ferrell, as George W. Bush, appeared before a microphone to end the presidential controversy by declaring himself "victoriant."

•   Political pundits are working overtime this holiday season, pontificating and projecting and predicting and palavering and, in the process, getting tired and sweaty and hoarse.

By the time a winner is finally certified in the 2000 election, they will need so much rest and Robitussin that the airwaves will be free of them for months. Or at least days.

The media pundits of Fox News Watch, on the other hand, appearing but once a week, will be as energetic and vigorous as ever, and I don't know how the rest o' you folks feel, but that makes me 'bout as happy as a ...

Somebody pass the Wild Turkey. I've got to drink to forget!