Hugging Despots

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Raging Moderate

For some unfathomable reason, Donald Trump has worked himself into one heavy-duty lather over dictators. Strongmen. Warlords. Kingpins. His love of tyrants is tremendous. It is amazing. It is huge. The man relishes hugging despots. Vladimir Putin. Rodrigo Duterte. Kim Jon Un. Kanye West.

The president backed up his good buddy Mohammed bin Salman, who assured him that Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance from their Istanbul embassy. Not only did the Crown Prince deny any involvement, “it was a forceful denial,” which means it has to be true. How could anybody lie when delivering a forceful denial?

Trump trusted his pal so much he summoned all his public relations skills to offer up the opinion that the columnist might have been slain by “rogue killers.” Yeah. Sure. That’s it. Or maybe he was consumed by spontaneous combustion. Or struck by an asteroid. No, it was the one-armed man. He got stuck in a cave like that Thai soccer team. Flesh eating bacteria? Could have been another 400-pound fat guy on a couch.

We waited breathlessly for the president to rationalize that when it comes to investigative journalists and rogue killers, “you can find good people on both sides.” Surprisingly, he neither tried that or blaming Hillary Clinton.

Turkish officials claim to possess evidence that an autopsy specialist transporting a bone saw was among the 15-member Saudi hit team that dismembered and beheaded Khashoggi during an interrogation. Which you might think would hinder the man’s ability to provide answers to specific queries.

Over a two week period, the Saudis furnished enough explanations to fill the trunk of a limo with room left over for the dismembered parts of many bodies. “We have no idea what happened.” “He left through the rear entrance.” “He’s fine, just sleepy.” “Fell down during an interrogation and couldn’t get up.” “Accidentally died during a fist fight.”

And if that last bit were true, it’s obviously his own damn fault. Only a journalist would get into a fist-fight with 15 guys armed with a bone saw. The man deserved everything he got.

Nobody knows how the Turks are aware of this. They too have spun enough tales to bore Scheherazade. First they floated the story that Khashoggi’s own Apple Watch recorded the deadly rumpus, which confused everyone including Apple CEO Tim Cook. The general impression is that there are more bugs in the Saudi Embassy than in the basement of the Smithsonian’s National History Museum.

The Saudis promised a thorough and transparent investigation, which is like letting Jeffrey Dahmer find out how that head got in his refrigerator. Finally they said the Washington Post columnist was dead but they didn’t mean to kill him. Some rogue killers got into their embassy and were torturing him when something went awry. Not their fault. Just an attempted rendition that screwed the pooch. Could have happened to any murderous regime.

Trump refuses to even consider slapping sanctions on the Saudis because “people are innocent until proven guilty.” This guy sees only what he wants to see, and mostly now he sees hundreds of billions in arm sales. He’s not just myopic, he’s a myopic ostrich, burying his head in the sand. In this case, extremely oil-rich Saudi sand.

Copyright 2018, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate.

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” please visit willdurst.com.

Comedy For People Who Read Or Know Someone Who Does

As the sacred cows set themselves up for slaughter each night at six, America cries out for a man with the aim, strength and style to swat the partisan political piñatas upside their heads. Will Durst is that man. Sweeping both sides of the aisle with a quiver full of barbs sharpened by a keen wit and dipped into the same ink as the day's headlines, Durst transcends political ties, performing at events featuring Vice President Al Gore and former President George H.W. Bush, also speaking at the Governors Conference and the Mayors Convention cementing his claim as the nation's ultimate equal opportunity offender. Outraged and outrageous, Durst may mock and scoff and taunt, but he does it with taste.

A Midwestern baby boomer with a media-induced identity crisis, Durst has been called "a modern day Will Rogers" by The L.A. Times while the S. F. Chronicle hails him as "heir apparent to Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory." The Chicago Tribune argues he's a "hysterical hybrid of Hunter Thompson and Charles Osgood," although The Washington Post portrays him as "the dark Prince of doubt." All agree Durst is America's premier political comic.

As American as a bottomless cup of coffee, this former Milwaukeean is cherished by critics and audiences alike for the common sense he brings to his surgical skewering of the hype and hypocrisies engulfing us on a daily basis. Busier than a blind squirrel neck deep in an almond sorting warehouse, Durst writes a weekly column, was a contributing editor to both National Lampoon and George magazines and continues to pen frequent contributions to various periodicals such as The New York Times and his hometown San Francisco Chronicle.

This five-time Emmy nominee and host/co-producer of the ongoing award winning PBS series "Livelyhood" is also a regular commentator on NPR and CNN, and has appeared on every comedy show featuring a brick wall including Letterman, Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime, receiving 7 consecutive nominations for the American Comedy Awards Stand Up of the Year. Hobbies include the never-ending search for the perfect cheeseburger, while his heroes remain the same from when he was twelve: Thomas Jefferson and Bugs Bunny.

Look for Will's new book "The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing" at bookstores and Amazon.com.

Will Durst's performances and columns are made possible by the First Amendment.