By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Peacocks don't move around much at night. They like a high place to roost, and they will usually find one before sundown. They know how many nocturnal beasts are down there looking for food -- foxes, coyotes, wildcats, blood-thirsty dogs on the prowl -- and the only animal that can get them when they're perched up high is one of those huge meat-eating owls with night-vision that can swoop down & pounce on anything that moves, from a water rat to a healthy young sheep.

My own peacocks wander widely during the day, but at night they come back into their own warm cage. Every once in a while they will miss curfew & decide to roost in a tree or on top of a telephone pole -- and that is what happened last week while we were watching the Super Bowl.

It was not a Lightning ball that blacked out my house, but a male peacock that stepped on a power line & caused a short circuit that burned him to a cinder & blew half my Electrics. The power came back, but the bird did not. It was fried like a ball of bacon. We couldn't even eat it. That tragedy occurred at halftime -- so let the record stand corrected. Sorry.

Since then, I have consulted with many Lawyers on the Lisl Auman case -- which gets uglier every time I look at it. Twenty-five thousand (25,000) people have checked into her Web site since I mentioned it here two weeks ago. She is still in Prison, of course, but the massive Web response was extremely encouraging to her parents & her many supporters.

Click here to buy Hunter S. Thompson's new book, Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist.

I don't do this very often -- Never, in fact -- but this case is such an outrage that it haunts me & gives me bad dreams at night. I am not a Criminal Lawyer, but I have what might be called "a very strong background" in the Criminal Justice System & many of my friends & associates are widely known as the best legal minds in that cruel & deadly business.

It is no place for amateurs, and even seasoned professionals can make mistakes that are often fatal. The System can grind up the Innocent as well as the Guilty, and that is what I believe happened to 20-year-old Lisl Auman, who was unjustly found guilty of murder and sent to prison for the rest of her Life Without Parole.

In all my experience with Courts & Crimes & downright Evil behavior by the Law & the Sometimes criminal cops who enforce it, this is the Worst & most Reprehensible miscarriage of "Justice" I've ever encountered -- and that covers a lot of rotten things, including a few close calls of my own. Which might easily have gone the other way if not for the help of some hammerhead Lawyers who came to my aid when I was in desperate trouble. (See "Songs of the Doomed," Summit Books, 1990.)

I learned a lot about Karma in those moments, and one thing that sticks with me is a quote from Edmund Burke that says: "THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING."

That is what got me into the Lisl Auman case, and that is why I will stay in it until this brutal Wrong is Righted. That is also why the first contribution to the Lisl Auman Defense Fund came from Gerald Lefcourt of New York, the current President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "This is not going to be easy," he said with a wry smile. "But what the hell -- count me in."

Indeed. It is no small trick to get a "Convicted cop-killer" out of prison -- but it will be a little easier in this case, because Lisl no more killed a cop than I did. She was handcuffed in the backseat of a Denver Police car when the cop was murdered in cold blood by a vicious skinhead who then shot himself in the head & left the D.A. with nobody to punish for the murder -- except Lisl.

It is a long story & I can't explain it all now. But you can find it on the Web at

And now back to Sports.

Hot damn, the XFL kicked off Saturday & drew a staggering 10.3 overnight Nielsen rating for NBC. It was a big hit with the teenaged Nazi crowd, but the NFL tried to ignore it. Nobody called it Football, but so what?

It was good to see Jesse Ventura back on TV. I have great affection for Jesse and I wish him well in anything he does. Which means, I guess, that I'm a charter XFL fan.

Why not? The first game on Saturday night was not bad. The game itself sucked, but it was definitely good TV. The Gov's commentary was the best thing about the NY-Las Vegas game, a pitiful whipping of the helpless NY/NJ Hitmen by the hometown Outlaws that should have been a lot worse than the 19-0 final score.

The cheerleaders were the stars of this game: They were not at all the lewd & sluttish bimbos that we were led to expect, almost promised by NBC & the League. No. The Lewdness level varied from team to team, but in the main, they were Pretty girls, Friendly girls, Sexy girls, but no lewder than the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or the Laker Girls-- at least not for now.

But this is a freewheeling League, for sure, and big changes can be made very quickly. If the TV ratings start looking weak, the Lewdness level will be the first thing to change -- if only because it will be a lot easier to hire naked cheerleaders than to go out & find better players.

They might Play for cheap in the XFL, but they won't play Naked. That would make the game insanely dangerous & ugly. The XFL girls, however, could turn the sidelines into a continuous orgy weirder than anything on the stage at the infamous O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, "the Carnegie Hall of Public Sex in America."

The Brutality level in the two Saturday night games was no worse than in any hard-hitting NFL game -- but that too could change if the ratings drop.

But I doubt that will happen. We are stuck with this fraud for a while. But it is a lot better than being in Prison.

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.