By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Slow weeks are becoming more & more routine in the Sports business, just as they are in Politics -- but last week was a clear victory for Politics, while Sports limped along like a crippled cat. The hottest tickets of all were for the Inaugural Ball in Washington where the new President's daughter flashed cleavage on worldwide TV & Bill Clinton slunk out of town like an unemployed Actor.

Meanwhile, Super Bowl tickets went begging, the price of TV commercials for the Big Game sunk dangerously low, as more & more people cancelled their plane reservations to Tampa. The over/under for Sunday's game was hovering around ten (10), a total, if achieved, which would be a new low for Action & another grim disgrace for the NFL. I have about six prime tickets for the game pinned on the lamp in front of me right now, & I can't even give them away. It's not just that people don't want to go to the game -- they don't even want to be seen there.

I tried to give the tickets to my son, but he said he'd rather watch the spectacle here at my house on TV. When I offered them to Benecio del Toro, he said the same thing. Ditto Keith Richards, who said he'd rather go to jail than fly to Tampa this weekend.

I had to send a set of $400 Club Seats back to my friend James Irsay of the Colts, whose generosity was wasted on me. Hell, I even have All-Access press credentials from ESPN that I won't use. I could be paid to go to this game, but ...

No. I have already adjusted my own line downward, from Six (6) to Three (3), based on statements from both teams that they don't even plan to score points. Die-hard Giants fans are flocking to take the Three, as New York fans always will, rather than pass up a bet. One fool went so far as to insist on taking the Giants with no points at all. Now that is a classic example of betting your Heart instead of your Head. I would have given him 2-1 odds on that one, but he didn't even ask.

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It is always bad business to blindly follow the Conventional Wisdom on big-money events, so the smart way to bet this game is to go both ways & try for a winning Middle -- as in Giving the Giants with no points, & taking the Giants with Six. That way, a single Baltimore field goal will make you a winner on both ends. Good luck.

You would have to be working a genuinely Berserk gambling crowd to pull off a trick like this -- but it happens, on some days, & the secret of making it happen is to invite the Right people to watch the game & bet with you. High on the Guest List should be hopeless Alcoholics with huge Egos & a weakness for Mob Hysteria in tense situations. These are the ones who will get Angry when their pregame bets start going wrong, and then they Double Up on every play in a desperate effort to catch up & win on some last-minute Fumble or shocking Interception.

I have seen these loonies win on some days, but not often. They are the spiritual descendants of legendary Old West gamblers who would bet the Ranch & even their Wives & Daughters on one final roll of the dice.

Bill Clinton is one of these people, and so is George W. Bush. They are both high-stakes gamblers, and in both cases it runs in the family. They are both proven Winners. Bush is Undefeated, but he is barely more than a Rookie in this league & his last win came against one of the weakest & dumbest candidates ever to run for President. Almost anybody could have beaten Al Gore in 2000, and Bush will not be that lucky next time. Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.

Clinton is a different animal. His record in major elections over 25 years of living in Public Housing is 8-1 -- two Presidencies, five Governorships & one term as Attorney General of Arkansas -- and he would still be President if not for the 22nd Amendment. Clinton is a congenitally Lewd man who is evil in a way that seems Charming -- Bush is a charming man who was born Evil. Clinton was born Poor & remains that way; Bush was born Rich & is now even richer.

I have about six prime tickets for the game pinned on the lamp in front of me right now, & I can't even give them away. It's not just that people don't want to go to the game -- they don't even want to be seen there.
HST

They are both whores, because that is the nature of American Politics. They both have a designated Fool in the Family, because that is the nature of the Presidency. It is a necessary Lightning rod for criticism that would otherwise fall on the President & harm his approval ratings. Clinton had Roger, Carter had Billy & LBJ had a brother so weird that he had to be locked in a White House attic for three years. There is always something queer in the closet.

With Bush, it is going to be poor Jenna, the 19-year-old blonde who fell out of her dress while dancing with her father on their first official night in Washington. She might go sideways at any moment. She is already painted as the Cross the Bush family has to bear.

Ho ho. There are no Accidents in the Bush family. Everything that happens to them is carefully scripted & accounted for: It is an old Family recipe that has worked for three generations & maybe more. Who knows?

The Key to it is not Luck, but the Fix. The FIX must be in for anything to proceed properly. The Bush family Gunsels have understood all their lives that their main Job is to Reduce the Risk Factor to Zero, a much-admired ability in politics, Business, Gun-fighting & even professional Sports.

The Yankees don't win championships by being Lucky or by some crazed ability to "suck it up in the clutch." No. They win because they are from The Big Apple & they spend Big money for Big players & they have developed a keep taste for Habitual Domination. The Yankees put Meat in the Seats because they Expect to win, by any means necessary -- and so does the Bush family of New England, Washington & Texas. Young George spent more money on one day of his Inauguration Ceremonies than Richard Nixon did on his whole Campaign in 1972 -- and Nixon was crucified as a Criminal Spendthrift with the ethics of a snake.

Some people will tell you that Bill Clinton fits that description far better than Bush or Nixon -- and they are not entirely wrong. Nixon stabbed his Enemies in the back, but Clinton did it to his Friends. His lust to inflict Punishment surpassed even Nixon's, and he put more people in prison than Caligula. He had his own brother locked up & he refused to pardon his old friend Webb Hubbell. Richard Nixon was a criminally insane Monster -- Bill Clinton is a black-hearted Swine of a friend.

One of Clinton's most Ignoble acts as President was not to pardon an Innocent 22-year-old girl named Lisl Auman, who will now go to prison for the rest of her life without Parole for a crime she was never even Accused of committing. It is a long, ugly story & we don't have time or space for it now -- but you can get the gist of it from Lisl.com

OK. That' s it for now. More to come after that Orgy of ill-conceived gibberish that is the Super Bowl -- where the best we can hope for, I think, is a 0-0 tie & four scoreless overtimes. Yes. That would make even nongamblers frantic for many hours from Coast to coast & trigger many Suicides. But so what? We are stuck with this game, so why not make it an Unforgettable Experience?

One of my clearest memories in Sport is being on a five-hour flight with Edward Bennett Williams while the agonizing Two-Overtime Kansas City-Miami playoff game was happening. There was no TV & we had to get a radio update from the cockpit every 20 or 30 seconds. The tension was Unbearable. People cried & howled all around us. The stewardess had to give us our own bottle of Scotch to keep us from going Mad.

The only player's name I recall from that game is Ed Podolak, who told me later that he was going "in and out of consciousness" midway through the second overtime. "By then I hardly cared who won or lost," he joked. "I thought of Fumbling deliberately just to get it over with."

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.




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