I regret the error: Obama really is cute
In a column last week, I wrote about Hawaii-born U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who is considering a run for president, and said, "His qualifications, as far as I can tell, are that he's 'cute,' he got to hang out at the Playboy mansion and Oprah likes him."
I received an e-mail from Obama's press secretary pointing out that I was wrong. It turns out Obama isn't cute. No, wait, that's not right. It turns out that he doesn't hang out at the Playboy mansion.
Obama's press secretary, Tommy Vietor, called the reference "a large, factual error" that merited a correction. Any regular readers of this column know that when I precede a sentence with the phrase "as far as I can tell," they need to take whatever follows with a certain amount of skepticism.
But I nevertheless concede that Obama doesn't hang out at the Playboy mansion. Personally, I think he should. I know I would if I had a chance and my wife would let me. But now we are leaving the realm of facetiousness and entering pure fantasy.
As long as we're clearing the decks, let me clear up a few more possible misconceptions in the column. To win the Democratic nomination, Obama will NOT have to don a Che Guevara hat, as I stated. And he wouldn't have to admit he smoked weed, recite the more obscure works by Allen Ginsberg or declare George W. Bush the Antichrist.
I sincerely believe he wouldn't have to do any of those things to win the Democratic primaries, although, frankly, a couple of them wouldn't hurt. And while we are being brutally honest, I have to admit that, unlike what I said in the column, I believe that Obama could defeat Hillary Clinton in a no-rules cage fight.
Man, I feel better. This correcting-the-record business is very cathartic. I lied. I don't know what "cathartic" means. But it feels good to clear the air of any misconceptions or errors I've dropped into my columns from time to time.
For instance, in a recent column I pointed out that state taxes on cigarettes will bring in $30 million. Then I said that if we are really going to put Hawaii on a firm financial footing, we're going to need more smokers. I suggested the state make smoking mandatory. The truth is that I really don't think the state should make smoking mandatory. I don't know why I said it.
Another time, I might have misled a few readers when I said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shot a Taepodong ballistic missile toward Hawaii because I had called him in a recent column a "screwed-up little dictator in mechanics overalls." I was in error. Kim does not wear mechanics overalls. He wears some kind of apparel that LOOKS like mechanics overalls, but they aren't actually overalls. I apologize for the mistake.
As far as the missile being shot at Hawaii because I called him a "screwed-up little dictator," well, the jury's still out on that. I also concede I was not being completely factual when I described the parties involved in "six-party talks" with North Korea as "cocktail party, work party, toga party, pupu party, search party and necktie party."
Food does not kill. I know, I said it does in a past column. But it doesn't. At least most food doesn't kill. I was just a little upset by New York City trying to ban restaurants from cooking with trans fats and hydrogenated oils. And lawyers suing fast-food places for serving french fries. I got so upset I stated that the problem with food is that it kills. That was wrong.
Another thing: James Cagney did not say "Come and get my copper" in one of his movies. I said he did in another column, but that was wrong. What he actually said was "Come and get me, copper." As a humorous tool, I was trying to tie James Cagney into the recent thefts of copper in Hawaii. As far as I can tell, James Cagney has nothing to do with copper thefts in Hawaii and never made any reference to stealing copper in his movies.
Now here's a biggie. In writing recently about authorities making certain areas of Oahu "prostitution-free zones," I said that the "Honolulu Lite Streetwalkers and Adult Entertainment Strike Force" conducted an investigation and discovered that there were no zones on the island where prostitution was actually free, or even reasonable.
I'm sort of ashamed to say that there is no Honolulu Lite Streetwalkers and Adult Entertainment Strike Force. I wish there was, and maybe there will be one day. But right now, it isn't in the budget. So, sorry about that. I have since learned that "prostitution-free zones" refer to areas that are free of prostitutes, not areas where there are free prostitutes. I'm sorry if that led to any readers approaching prostitutes in hopes of free service.
Finally, the cavemen in the Geico Insurance commercials aren't real. I know I insinuated they were in a column, but I knew they really were just actors playing cavemen. I don't know what gets into me sometimes. (As far as I can tell, the geckos in the commercials are real.)
So, to recap, Hawaii-born U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is cute and is liked by Oprah but has not been to the Playboy mansion. The Honolulu Lite Corrections and Clarifications Strike Force regrets the error.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org