You Can Call Me Jay [Apr 18, 2003]

It seems like everyone is talking about Jay Garner, the man hand-picked by the Pentagon to become the new viceroy of our recently-conquered colony in Iraq. Most of the talk has focused on the fact that it might be inappropriate to appoint a weapons manufacturer as the peactime leader of a country that was just firebombed by the very missile systems his company produces. There are also certain points to be made about how Garner has received more than $100 million in government contracts because of his friendship with Donald Rumsfeld, about how he was involved in the Reagan-era Star Wars missile defense boondoogle, and about how he lied to Congress regarding the effectiveness of the Patriot missile system that he helped develop during the first Gulf War.

We should know as much as possible about this complex and important man who's about to move into Saddam Hussein's former palace. But we should know one fact over all others. I think Jay Garner is perfect for the job of imperial consul to the Iraqi terrorities. After all, he is one of our finest actors.

Who among us, especially if you grew up in the 1970s, didn't enjoy watching Jay Garner every week in The Rockford Files? In an age of malaise, Jim Rockford, the put-upon private eye who Jay Garner utterly inhabited, was an American everyman with a nose for trouble. I don't remember if he lived on a houseboat or not, but I think he got beaten up on a houseboat once, and I'm also pretty sure that he dispatched ethnic foes with some regularity. The combination of world-weary cynicism, an eye for the ladies, and the ability to punch out brown-skinned thugs is the perfect recipe for running Iraq.

Jay Garner has had a long career. He played Jimmy Buffett, billionaire investor, in the HBO movie Barbarians At The Temple, and he was hilarious in Space Cowboys with Clint Eastwood, a movie that made me proud to be an American, or, in my case, half-American. When I hear people on the left whine about Garner's "conflicts of interest," I think, who would you have wanted to get the job? Ed Asner? Alan Alda? Hal Linden? OK. Maybe Gabe Kaplan would have been amusing, I'll admit. But no one represents our interests and great, forgiving Christian spirit better than Jay Garner. He's the man for the job.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Neal Pollack, and I am the greatest living American writer. It's been a true pleasure keeping you amused and informed during this very difficult month in the history of the world. Now I must take a short break to work on an important screenplay about country music. For the next week, this space will be ably filled by the ample Susannah Breslin, known to you as The Reverse Cowgirl. Susannah has promised more politics, less midget porn.

Meanwhile, enjoy yet another interview with me. This one is extremely apolitical. In fact, it seems to mostly be concerned with basketball. Well, this weekend, my beloved Phoenix Suns travel to San Antonio once again. Only this time, it's the playoffs. The odds are always long for a Number 8 seed, but I nonetheless throw the full weight of my fandom behind the orange, purple and white. Go Suns! Make me proud!

See you all in ten days.