What happens next?

Well, it’s all over now. I know you don’t want to read another damn word about it. I haven’t the faintest desire to write another syllable on it. But the strictest canons of journalistic ethics demand this column deal with the decomposing remains.

So allow me to put a new spin on the meaning of it all – the thong, the impeachment, the nonconviction, the sorrow and the nausea – and ask the nation why, why wasn’t more attention paid to the fact that Chief Justice William Rehnquist insisted on wearing a rabid bat army sergeant’s uniform, with four hash marks on each sleeve?

Moreover, why have no other commentators explored the wonder of that scene at the end, when the senators were left twitching flaccidly, uncertain. Suddenly, Sen. Trent "Screwsupa" Lott, (Fascist-Miss.) whipped out a plaque that resembled the one Sterling Heights Kiwanis used to give speakers who actually ate their macaroni and cheese.

Lott made for Rehnquist, who above his bat suit looked precisely like a 6-day-old parakeet with a manifest vitamin deficiency. "We give this to anyone who has presided over the Senate for a hundred hours," he said, adding that the Rehn had come close. Everyone beamed happily, except me. Clearly this was God’s fiendish little joke, a send-up of Sinclair Lewis America. The only journalist who could describe it was H.L. Mencken, and God long since did away with both of them.

The solons shuffled out. That night, as I spooned my gruel, the nasal whine of Cokie Roberts rose above the other commentators. Suddenly, one asked plaintively if the end of impeachment meant some stories neglected by the media might start being covered.

What could they possibly be referring to? I wondered.

Could the coverage of the semen stains on the blue dress possibly have gotten in the way of understanding Kosovo, a tortured place somewhere in the hind end of Europe, to which we are (Hello!) about to send troops? I went there back in 1986, on the hunch it might be the first place in shaky Yugoslavia to blow up.

OK, it turns out Kosovo has become the last place to dissolve into ethnic killing, but even so, I seem to have been on the right track. Kosovo, a region about four times the size of Oakland County but without malls, is the historic cradle of Serbia.

Unfortunately, the Serbs have vanished as completely as whites from Six Mile and Woodward. The vast majority of Kosovo’s population are Albanian now, and the Serbs, who dominate the remaining fragments of Yugoslavia, don’t like that very much.

Hence the conflict. Naturally, I have my prejudices, based largely on my reverence for my patron saint, King Zog, last monarch of Albania. Back in the 1930s, when he heard there were foreign correspondents in Tiranë, he’d have them arrested at gunpoint and brought to the palace late at night. Then they would be forced to play bridge until all hours. My kind of despot. Albanians are, indeed, mainly quite insane, but entertaining.

Kosovo, now – when I was there, the rumor was that members of one ethnic group, which I honestly can’t remember the name of, brutally assaulted an enemy, ramming a bottle up his fundament. Supporters of the martyred butt drew pictures of a bottle on lampposts, etc., as an emblem of protest. This enchanted me, until I got an abscessed tooth.

Alas, Kosovar dentistry consisted of a foot-powered drill and no Novocain.

So I went to Vienna, where Sigmund Freud’s younger clone dug my tooth out of my jaw.

Sadly, I’ve never been back. But 4,000 of our troops soon may be on their way to Kosovo, if all the reports are correct. Why in the world are we going there?

Sorry, the House managers didn’t ask. Nor do we know what we’ll do if they start shooting, though a reliable source told me efforts are being made to entertain our troops by a USO delegation including Monica, Martha Raye and Soupy Sales.

What else? Well, the Detroit school board made a final, pathetic attempt to avoid being taken over. My favorite part was where they said they would require parents (Hello?) to perform volunteer service.

The world economy is still held together by baling wire, smoke, mirrors, three pistachio shells and the NASDAQ. Russia teeters on the point of collapse. New Yorker editor David Remnick, who I think is the best journalist in the nation, reports an epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Russia’s prisons.

Russia is the only nation that has as many souls on ice as we do – some 700,000 plus. Vladimir Yalunin, head of the penal system (the old gulag), told Remnick, "Every prisoner in the system is malnourished," and therefore especially prone to disease.

They spend a dollar a day on each prisoner, half what is needed for mere survival. How much longer it all holds together is anybody’s guess. "In an era in which America’s attention is divided between unprecedented economic success and unprecedented political absurdity, Russia is ignored as just too broken to fix," Remnick notes acidly.

Naturally, no disease will ever get into the wider population, or abroad, since nobody travels at all. Yet now, at last, we in the media will get a crack at explaining these issues to you, and telling you just why you should care, and ...

Aw, shit. Can’t we just find another bimbo and impeach him again?

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