Thursday, February 19, 2009

Craig Ferguson Still Gets It

Late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson often reminds his viewers that he became an American citizen by taking and passing a test, which sets him apart from native-born Americans who (he implies) know less about their Constitution and government than he does.

That naturalized immigrants must learn more about American history and our constitutional heritage in order to enter full citizenship than birthright Americans is a commonplace. Americans, sad to say, are ignorant of politics and government. They routinely fail to answer correctly 50 percent or more of the questions in a survey about the Constitution or about political history.

We're not talking about average Americans failing to recognize the name of Rebecca Felton (the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate) or knowing the details of the Supreme Court's decision in Watchtower v. Village of Stratton. No, these are questions like "How many branches of government are there, and can you name all three?"

In any case, the Scottish-born, self-educated Ferguson has absorbed American values and, although is politics seem to lean a bit toward the left-liberal side of the spectrum, it is clear that the libertarian streak of his former boss and co-star Drew Carey has rubbed off (at least a bit) on the host of The Late, Late Show.

Evidence for this came this week when, on episodes 829 and 830 (Tuesday night and Wednesday night), Ferguson unleashed a torrent of satire and sarcasm against the meddlesome and condescending ways of local government.

In this particular case, Ferguson had planned on using, during the cold open that follows The Late Show with David Letterman, some lighted sparklers to make the show more festive and, well, sparkly.

But no -- Los Angeles County requires anyone who handles sparklers to take a training course and obtain a legal permit before doing so. (This will come as a surprise to any of us -- that's you and me, readers -- who handled sparklers on the Fourth of July at the age of 7 or so, no permit in hand.) Consequently, Ferguson had to wait until Wednesday's show -- episode 830 -- to demonstrate his (now-legal) sparkler-handling capacity. The permit, I should add, specified where on his show's set that the comic actor could stand while holding the lit sparklers. (He bravely ignored this aspect of the regulations, risking judicial punishment in the process.)

Throughout the two hours of merriment on succeeding nights, Ferguson was able to skewer local government for its patronizing view of citizens: laws like this one suggest that we are too stupid to take care against any damage that a sparkler (which burns out by itself within about 30 seconds) might cause. Making fun of tyrants is older than Shakespeare (older than Plautus and Aristophanes, for that matter) and Ferguson does it oh-so-well. If nothing else, he compels us to ask why we tolerate a government that holds us in such low esteem.

I have written previously that Craig Ferguson is the most intelligent and wittiest of the late-night talk-show hosts. He is also the one with the fullest understanding of what it means to be an American -- not bad for a guy born overseas. (You can find my previous posts about Craig Ferguson here and here.) Perhaps he should affiliate himself with the Institute for Justice, as Drew Carey has done with the Reason Foundation.

Be sure to visit my CafePress store for gifts and novelty items!
Read my blog on Kindle!

No comments: