Published on Tuesday, June 8, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
“American Idol” Faceoff: Reagan vs FDR
by John Moyers
(UPI) Washington, D.C. – Fox Television Network has announced that the next installment of its wildly popular “American Idol” show will feature Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“Fox wants to help settle the question of who was the greatest president,” said Angie Saxon, a vice president for programming at Fox. “We’re going to let Americans decide, once and for all, by presenting this headstone-to-headstone competition.”
Saxon said the normal format of singing performances by contestants would be impossible to follow. “They’re both dead, so it might be hard for them to carry a tune,” she observed.
Instead, Fox will rely on teams of surrogates to battle it out live, in front of a studio audience.
The Reagan team captain will be Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and chairman of the Reagan Legacy Project, which is working to establish a monument to Reagan in every county in the United States.
“Ronald Reagan was the greatest leader of the free world in the 20th Century, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt left Europe half enslaved,” Norquist said. “And just because conservatives hate government doesn’t mean we won’t use taxpayer money to honor the 40th president.” Norquist said he might perform his own arrangement of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” for the competition.
Norquist’s team will include radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who first came to prominence during Reagan’s first term, Ann Coulter, the provocative blond pundit whose books and television appearances define Reagan’s thoughtful nonpartisanship, and Edwin Feulner, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“Ronald Reagan was one of the best friends The Heritage Foundation ever had,” Feulner said. “His presence is felt at our headquarters on Capitol Hill. His policies are still studied – and admired. His speeches are still read for historical analysis – and inspiration. Pictures and portraits of him hang in the hallways, and many staffers have set up little shrines to him in their offices where they’re free to pray several times a day.”
Feulner said he has always admired Hal Holbrook’s impersonation of Mark Twain, and for his “American Idol” performance he will appear in costume as Reagan and recite a medley of jokes and quips culled from Reagan’s career. Limbaugh and Coulter were unavailable for comment on their performances.
The FDR team captain will be FDR biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. She had not named any additional team members as of press time, but said she was consulting a number of leading academics on the matter.
Fox Television Network’s Angie Saxon said the usual three-member panel of entertainers who judge “American Idol” contests will be replaced with judges from its sister network, the Fox News Channel.
She said the judges had not yet been selected, but added “this will be a fair and balanced group of judges.”
Saxon said Fox has secured assurances from “a senior White House advisor” and from leaders of both houses of Congress that the winner of the competition will have his likeness added to Mount Rushmore and the $10 bill. In addition, the National Cathedral in Washington will be renamed for the winner.
John Moyers (firstname.lastname@example.org) founded TomPaine.com. He works in Washington, DC with the Center for American Progress.