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It was an unbilled appearance at a pro-choice benefit in Los Angeles last night - and being just two weeks before the election - the audience sensed it was in for a special treat. And Robin Williams didn't disappoint. With just a few deft strokes he etched a quite different portrait of the Texan presidential candidate than currently perceived by nearly half of the electorate.
The occasion was "Comic's Choice" the 9th annual fundraiser for WRRAP - the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project - which helps fund abortions for low-income women throughout America. The sold-out house at L.A.'s Improv club had already enjoyed nearly three hours of laughs from top stand-ups when comedian and Dennis Miller writer Rick Overton brought on "a few friends" to honor the full meaning of the word "improv"
One of those friends just happened to be Robin Williams. And when the improv game called on the audience to suggest professions for the players to lampoon as The World's Worst - it was open season. Someone called out "Governor" - and the Robin Williams fuse was lit.
"World's Worst Governor!" and suddenly Williams transformed himself into Dubya as a smarmy game-show host welcoming viewers to Texas' "Wheel Of Misfortune" - the execution game. 145 unlucky winners so far... Within seconds he was riffing on the Governor's law on allowing concealed weapons in churches. "This campaign brought to you by Smith & Wesson - for that gun you can hide in your pants...." And when he trilled Bush's self-description "I'm a compassionate conservative" - he followed it with a simple aside. "Compassionate conservative? That's like a Volvo with a gun rack..."
In just devastating 5 minutes Williams inflicted more damage on Bush than Gore managed in 4 1/2 hours of lugubrious debate. There's a lesson there. But two weeks before the election is certainly too late in the day to enact its meaning.