FRED NILE was shouted down last month when he suggested that traditional Islamic clothing could be used by terrorists as a means of concealment:

New South Wales MP Fred Nile says the chador, worn by Muslim women to cover their bodies, could be used to hide explosives and is a perfect disguise for terrorists ... Islamic leaders want an apology while the Independent Education Union has called for his resignation.

Fred should ask for an apology himself. The ABC reports an attack by burkha-wearing terrorists in Pakistan:

Pakistani police say they have detained three members of a banned Islamic militant group for an attack at a Christmas day church service in central Pakistan which killed three girls.

The attack was carried out by men disguised as women wearing the all covering burkha veil, popular in conservative Muslim societies.

Thanks to reader Brendan C. for the tip.

ENVIRONOIDS WERE overjoyed this year when Michael Organ became the first Australian Green to be elected to the House of Representatives. But Organ hasn't remained Green for long:

Our newest Federal MP and self-proclaimed greenie Michael Organ has asked his new bosses – the taxpayers – for a petrol-guzzling parliamentary car.

The former rev-head, who used to race a twin-cam Ford Escort in car club trials, has asked for a Holden Commodore Supercharged S.

But after being contacted by The Daily Telegraph about his choice, Mr Organ realised a six-cylinder supercharged sedan might not be the best look for someone elected on an environmental platform.

No kidding! Organ selected the mighty Holden over several more economical, ecologically-sensitive vehicles, including the dinky petrol/electric Toyota Prius. Can't say I blame him.

READER DAVID BARRY sends some cogent criticism, plus a September 11 revelation:

Tim, Tim, young Timmy... what can I say?

Well, apparently you can say "Tim". And "Timmy"! Well done.

Did some nasty communist take away your toys when you were a little kid (say some time in the past twelve months)? Is that what made you such a quivering little wretch that you just had to turn nasty? Pity you're so piss weak it doesn't work...


Honestly Blair, I've never read such puerile, naive twaddle in my life. You are a disgrace to the proud heritage of journalism. Of course, being a retro-conservative you don't believe in any of that sort of thing do you?

Us retro-conservatives are notorious for our loathing of heritage.

Why am I asking you?

More to the point, what are you asking?

Your columns show this perfectly. How about firstly checking facts (you do remember facts, don't you? They're those inconvenient truths that keep getting in the way of you writing anything worthwhile)

Examples, please.

And how about, just for once (you little right wing intellectual you) how about doing something very Australian for a change, and that's to play the ball and not the man?

I'll follow your lead, David.

Do you have any idea how weak your writing is when you attack people rather than their ideas? You come over as a spoilt little brat - one of the original "I'll take my ball and go home" crowd.

If I'd taken my ball and gone home, I wouldn't be writing anything.

You seem to be nothing more than a nasty little piece of work who somehow bullied his way into a national newspaper? I doubt you did it by your writing ability. I doubt that very much.

You are correct. I did it by bullying Rupert Murdoch.

What I really resent is that your employer would waste such valuable column inches on what is essentially vapour - nasty smell yet ultimately empty and meaningless - when he could be publishing something and someone far more worthwhile.

David Barry

And now for the kicker …

PS One more thing, Mr Naive. September 11 was organised by a consortium of 14 US and European companies under the aegis of the Carlyle Group. Funding for the operation was provided via the US DEA in a series of payments made to the Taliban through to the final payment of $US 35 million on 15 May 2001. They even gathered in Washington especially to watch it happen... If you don't know that then you don't know anything. Now of course we're just waiting for your hero, the mass murderer and coward George Shrub, to manufacture yet another Gulf of Tonkin incident. You do know about the Gulf of Tonkin incident don't you? Oh no, that's right, you can't. You came down in the last shower of rain...

What can I say ...

UPDATE. It must be Stupid Dave Day!

GOT A book voucher for Christmas? Why not pick up Sandra Lee's Beyond Bad, judged by the SMH to be the better of two books currently available on the subject of husband-baker Katherine Knight. Personally recommended.

ASK AN ISLAMIC EXTREMIST! Chris Textor inspects Ask-Imam.com, the "online fatwa resource" for an unknown number of Islamite intolerantistas. Important issues covered include the sinfulness of western toilets ("put toilet paper in the pan to avoid urine splashes"), hand-holding ("It is immoral for the husband and wife to hold hands in public"), and homosexuality ("These acts of defiance against human nature are also even viler and uglier than adultery").

DOES ROGER EBERT actually watch the films he reviews? According to Ebert's adoring take on Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence, Aboriginal actress Deborah Mailman portrays "a white woman".

By the way, Roger, in Australia "Aborigine" is a proper noun. It takes a capital A. Show some respect, rich white dude. And get your damn glasses fixed.

CLAIM: That a human clone has been born.

SOURCE: Brigitte Boisselier, president of cloning society Clonaid, and a member of the Raelian cult.

STATUS: Utter bullshit.

HE'S NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE: Canadian children's author C.J. Hinke is behind bars tonight following the seizure of $45 million worth of ecstasy. Hinke, now an Australian resident, is best known as the author of Oz in Canada, which is based upon The Wizard of Oz.

JOE KATZMAN writes what cannot be written often enough:

Despite 9/11, Bali, guys in Britain arrested before a chemical attack in the London Underground, a leader of a French mosque being arrested yesterday for involvement with Richard "shoe bomber" Reid, and a daily serving of Nazi-class hatred across the Arab media and from prominent mosques throughout the Arab world ... All that, and it doesn't seem to sink in with some folks that hey, these people really mean us harm and aren't just a radical fringe.


TONIGHT I'M going to see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. Pray for Tim.

THE MELBOURNE AGE continues to harvest The Guardian for airheaded commie filler. Today we get George Monbiot's turkey-based theory of capitalist excess:

By comparison to most of the animals we eat, the turkeys traditionally consumed at year's end are relatively efficient converters: they produce about three times as much meat per pound of grain as feedlot cattle. But there are still plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable about eating them. Most are reared in darkness, so tightly packed that they can scarcely move. Their beaks are removed with a hot knife to prevent them from hurting each other. When you see the inside of a turkey broilerhouse, you begin to entertain grave doubts about Western civilisation.

Hundreds of harmless, immobile turkeys, unable to see the light. Sounds like The Guardian's newsroom.

TWO TEENAGE asylum seekers have died after a car in which they were travelling blew a tyre and crashed. Whose should be blamed? The Australian government, of course:

They arrived in Australia on the same boat two years ago – two boys sent out alone by their families in Afghanistan like offerings to freedom.

Abdullah Abbasi and Mohammad Ali Ahmedi, both ethnic Hazaras, shared a month in Woomera detention centre before they were released into foster-care in Adelaide.

At 7pm on Christmas Eve on the Dukes Highway in South Australia, just short of the Victorian border, the Toyota in which they were passengers blew a tyre and spun out of control into a tree, police believe. The boys were killed instantly.

This is undeniably tragic. But how is it the government’s fault? Afghan Multi-ethnic Association chairman Hussain Razaiat explains, as reported by The Australian's Thea Williams:

"These two boys, 14 and 15, that's the question – why were they allowed to take a trip to Melbourne with a young man who is 19 and has an old car?" Mr Razaiat asked.

Mr Razaiat said the Afghan community was concerned about the safety of unaccompanied minors in foster-care and their lack of supervision.

"If immigration or Family and Youth Services had made holiday programs for them, of course we would not be witness to this matter," he said.

"We are so worried something more will happen if they continue this process. They need to be more careful about these young boys."

The boys were sent to Australia unaccompanied by their parents, presumably aboard a people-smuggler's sub-standard vessel. No blame there. And, in accordance with the wishes of various pressure groups and the UN, they were allowed to live outside of the Woomera Detention Centre. No blame there. For that matter, where was the "concerned Afghan community" when the boys were planning their dangerous drive? No blame there. Their deaths are entirely due to the government's failure to arrange "holiday programs".

THERE ARE some who believe that Steve Waugh, at 37, is too old to remain in the Australian cricket team. These people haven't learned the grim lesson of 1981, when a 35-year-old Doug Walters was omitted from the team selected to tour England. Walters would've won that damn series for us.

Whatever. Waugh answered his critics yesterday, and today might score one of the fastest centuries of his Test career. With 62 runs from 78 deliveries, he's on course to do so. All of Australia is pro-Waugh.

UPDATE. Waugh is out for 77. Still, he's done enough to retain his place. Justin Langer has just hit a four to reach 202; the last Australian to score a double hundred against England at the MCG was Bob Cowper, in the summer after Steve Waugh's birth.

FRENCH SUBSIDY JUNKIES are furious with Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile, author of an anti-subsidy piece that recently appeared in Le Monde:

The president of the French Chamber of Agriculture, Luc Guyau, who represents French farmers, has lashed out at Vaile's contribution to the debate about farm protection in Europe.

"I personally believe that Australia should work its local market in Asia instead of trying to export to Europe, where we already produce all these products," Guyau said.

Let the people decide, Frenchy. It should be up to them whether they prefer Australian products to poisonous clumps of Eurovirus churned with pig urine and slapped on supermarket shelves bearing the label "cheese".

HOW COME they only announced this after Sean Penn returned to the US?

Iraq has called for volunteers "to act as human shields" when the expected attack by the United States comes, Saad Qasim Hammoudi, an official of the ruling Ba'ath party, said.

"These people will be distributed to vital and strategic installations in all Iraqi regions."

Mr Hammoudi claimed yesterday that he was expecting volunteers from the US and Europe to risk their lives for Saddam.

In the same SMH article, Mr Hammoudi celebrates the heroism and genius of knocking an unmanned object out of the sky:

Iraq warned the "heroic operation" which led to the shooting down of the US drone aircraft was a taste of things to come for invaders. "It's a message that any assault against Iraq will not be the picnic they imagine," Mr Hammoudi said.

"The operation showed Iraq's ability to stand up to sophisticated technology and proved the Iraqi genius can deal effectively with this technology."

One damn drone. Woo freakin' hoo.


READER BRAD JOHNSON spies a late nomination for The Crappiest Sentence of 2002 from this Norman Solomon column about Holy Sean Penn in the Arab News:

"And when the drumbeat of war threatens to drown out all those refusing to harmonize with it, the imperative of dissent becomes paramount."

Wow. Harmonising with drumbeats. That would test even the skills of the Jordanaires.

BERNARD LANE has a fun piece on blogging in today's Australian, including coverage of the blog-driven Lott controversy and my small role in bringing Margo Kingston to the attention of an appalled world. Lane also coins a new blog term: "conplogging".

TODAY'S COLUMN in The Australian mentions Pauline Hanson and her brothers in bigotry at the Australian Islamic Youth Movement, and is based on a fantastically obscene article first unearthed by the vigilant Tex.

I AM in great physical pain, having spent most of Christmas Day playing backyard cricket with Miranda Devine's sport-obsessed son Tom. He bowls fast and accurately, which is remarkable for one so young. "He's like a 12-year-old Brett Lee," I told Miranda.

She corrected me. Tom is only seven.

At least I emerged from Tom's marathon bowling session in better shape than his grandfather Frank, who today is nursing a swollen and bruised thumb after being struck by the toddler tearaway.

Frank and I have vowed to practice in advance of Christmas 2003. We'll need to. Next year the little bastard will be eight.


HO, HO, HO! IT'S A WHITE CHRISTMAS for animal rights activists in Scotland:

Police had to break up an animal rights protest yesterday when schoolchildren in Aberdeen pelted activists with cartons of milk.

Sean Gifford of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and an unidentified man in a cow-suit had planned a peaceful protest at the gates of the Grammar School to let pupils know about the claimed hazards in milk.

But they had to be rescued by two female police officers when the teenage pupils launched a violent protest of their own.

About 100 children, shouting "milk for the masses" and carrying banners, surrounded Mr Gifford and his "cow" partner and drenched them both in milk for about ten minutes. The police eventually intervened and escorted the PETA members back to their car.

Mr Gifford said: "I have travelled all over the UK with this protest and I have never seen anything like this before. It must be something to do with children in Aberdeen. I think they just got a bit over-excited. I'm sure they will still go home and think about our message."

They already have, Mr Gifford.

One pupil, Alan Smith, 16, said: "This is a stupid idea. We should be encouraged to drink milk and I certainly won't stop drinking milk just because a man has dressed up as a cow outside my school."

What is it about Scots named Smith? They're always sensible. Meanwhile, students in Taiwan are seemingly more easily intimidated by milk tyrants.

UPDATE. This story is way old. Memo to self: check the date of publication, not the website's always-current date stamp. That way you avoid looking stupid(er).

THE MELBOURNE AGE celebrates Christmas by reprinting Matthew Engel's inconsequential anti-Bush musings from The Guardian. Man, do they ever hate their readers.

YOU SEE some odd things while touring Australia's highways, especially in the north. The Bunyip reports a sighting of particular concern.

BRITISH MUSLIMS are confused:

Seven out of 10 Muslims in Britain believe the war on terrorism is a war on Islam, an opinion poll published yesterday shows. More than half of the British-based Muslims questioned believe Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida network should not have been blamed for the 11 September attacks in the United States.

So who do they think should be blamed? The CIA? Britney? Adult children of alcoholics? A puzzled world awaits.

JUAN GATO takes out the Best Post of the Season with this line:

Santa's always your buddy when the cabinet's full, but try finding him when the cops show up.

True. So very, very true. Gato narrowly defeated Sgt. Stryker, whose impending Christmas trip home prompted a festive memory:

The smell of boiled monkey lingered for days.

Nothing is more evocative of Christmas than boiled monkey stench! Merry Christmas everybody.


FILIP BONDY of the New York Daily News was bitching the other day about there being no modern sportsmen worth calling heroes. None of them oppose a war in Iraq, he complained. None of them demand equal pay for women. None out themselves as gay. None are heroic.

Reader Robert M. Greggo, of Cleveland, Ohio, has two words for Mr. Bondy: Pat Tillman.

Tillman was the Arizona Cardinals footballer who, you might remember, turned his back on a $3.6 million contract last May so he could become an Army Ranger.

The 25-year-old completed his infantry training in late October. He's well on the way to becoming a hero, if he isn't one already. Oh, wait; according to Filip Bondy, you're only a hero if you oppose the war. Guess that rules out Tillman, who merely wants to serve his country, and surrendered millions of dollars to do so.

UPDATE. Recognising that Filip Bondy's notions on sports heroes were influenced by Noam Chomsky, reader Kevin Hill writes:

It's worth noting that Noam Chomsky comes by his weird opinion honestly. He is a linguistics guy, after all, and like sports figures, not really someone with a background that makes them an expert in international politics. So it should be no surprise that he thinks sports figures not making political statements is a huge void in society. Myself, I'm holding out for opinions from the guys down at Mr Lube. Why haven't they weighed in on the subject of war with Iraq? Personally, I'm very disappointed, and considering getting my oil changed elsewhere as a sort of political statement.

I hear a Mr Lube guy is visiting Iraq soon. On a fact-finding mission. Kind of like "Hanoi Oily" did during the Vietnam War.

LYNDSAY POAPS will never win the coveted title of Miss Indy Vancouver. David Janes presents photographic evidence to support this controversial claim.

THE FIRST ONES now will later be last. Robert Kagan points out that for former unilateralists, the times have indeed changed:

Yesterday's liberal interventionists, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, are today's liberal abstentionists. What changed? Just the man in the White House.

FORMER FEDERAL Minister Peter Howson calls for a Christian uprising in today's Australian:

For too long bishops and archbishops in Australia have been preaching against Western triumphalism and Christian arrogance. Yet today one would be surprised to find triumphalism and arrogance within the church. Bin Laden and Bashir have thrown down their challenge. We must fight across all fronts – religious, cultural and economic. But, regrettable as it may seem to some in the church, the exercise of military power is also essential. This battle will not be quickly or easily won. But if we are to win it, the Christian church must join in the militant defence of our common Christian heritage.

IN HONOUR of Joe Strummer, France and Russia are suddenly inclined to rock the casbah.

EXPOSED! It's true; as Gerard Henderson writes, I'm one of many Australian conservatives who was formerly of the Left:

Writing in The Bulletin on July 20, 1999, Catharine Lumby commented that columnist and publisher Michael Duffy "once ran an anarchist bookshop in Sydney". And that commentator P. P. McGuinness "was an economic adviser to the Whitlam government and worked for the Moscow Narodny bank" in the mid-1960s. And that Adelaide Review editor Christopher Pearson "edited the Labor Forum in the early '80s".

That's just for starters. The ABC TV Insiders program tries hard to provide political balance on its panel of commentators. Its two house-conservatives are Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt.

Three decades ago Akerman signed an advertisement, sponsored by the extreme-left Association for International Cooperation and Disarmament, which depicted members of the Australian Defence Force in Vietnam as "mercenaries" and accused the Coalition government at the time of involving Australia in the "cesspool of American imperial politics" (Review, November 27, 1971). Fellow signatories included such leftists as Laurie Aarons, Jim Cairns, Jennie George and Jack Mundey.

Bolt never ventured so far with the left. However, he did work for an ALP member in the Northern Territory Parliament and was a staffer in the Hawke government's National Media Liaison Service (nicknamed the "animals"). Other born-again political conservatives include Ron Brunton, Ross Terrill, Jonathan King, Imre Salusinszky, Bettina Arndt and Tim Blair.

Few apart from Robert Manne and David Brock (and possibly Malcolm Fraser, although he argues that he was always inclined towards soft-headedness) have made the reverse journey, from con to commie. The Bunyip and Tex are others who once counted themselves as Lefties. It might be fun to research each born-again's reason for conversion.

CHARLES AUSTIN proposes another Arab porn title: "Behind the Green Chador."

"WAR MAY be the right thing, even if Bush says so." So writes the Sydney Morning Herald's eternally unbiased Gay Alcorn.

IN WINTER 1986 I drove to Melbourne's outer suburbs every morning for a brutal job delivering wheeled garbage bins to households. Every morning I heard Big Audio Dynamite's E=MC2. It's still a favourite song.

A year or so ago I was in Ken Layne's Jeep, returning from an LA press club bash, when The Clash's Rock The Casbah – an extended dance mix, no less – erupted from the speakers. Only Ken's expert driving prevented us being killed during the following singalong euphoria.

Two days ago, at 3am, I was transfixed by the Rock The Casbah video – hey, it's got armadillos! – on Australia's Channel V.

Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, is dead at 50.

CORRECTION: Several readers write to say that Strummer had little to do with BAD. And he didn't, apart from co-producing one album. My big mistake. Got him confused with Mick Jones.


MANY, MANY THANKS to the kind readers who responded to my elf murder extortion threat. Your money has spared several elves (except for this guy, who I had to waste when he made a run for it) and will be used for a 2003 site redesign and relocation. Who wants the redesign job? Where should I relocate? Send e-mail!

CALL IT Operation Desert Porn. The Jerusalem Post reports:

A couple from the Arab village of Tira was severely beaten Sunday by a mob after a homemade porn film they participated in was distributed in the village. The cover of the film pictured the two people naked in front of a mosque.

The woman was in a serious condition and the man suffered light to moderate wounds.

On Sunday police were alerted to the fact that the couple were in the center of the village, surrounded by an angry mob. The angry crowd tried to prevent the police from taking the couple away and police were forced to fire shots in the air to extricate the pair.

Police said the couple had been taken to a hospital, but refused to divulge the name fearing for the safety of the two.

The police, according to UPI, were Israeli. Meanwhile, one of those renegade Freepers suggests this title for an Arab porn movie: "Deep Goat".

THE DAILY Telegraph's Jeff Wells writes that in New York, even sportswriters conform to paint-by-numbers trendoid liberal thinking:

Filip Bondy, of the Daily News, has felt the need to unload his angst on the wires over the awful recalcitrance of today's sportsmen who fail to comply with his political beliefs.

He quotes linguist, historian – and left-wing ultra-nutter – Noam Chomsky as saying: "There are no heroes in sports. Only people who play games better than other people."

It has been a bad year for Bondy. He backs Chomsky's sentiments by complaining of the following:

NO pro athlete has come out in opposition against the possibility of war with Iraq.

NO active male sportsman has outed himself as a homosexual.

NO baseball player has refused to sign with the racist Cleveland Indians – who have a cartoon Indian on their caps.

NO famous male athlete has demanded equal pay for women or complained about a lack of minority coaches.

If sportsmen can only be considered heroes if they adopt left-wing politics, the same must apply in reverse to academics. Which means none of us need take Noam Chomsky seriously until he qualifies on the front row at Indy, amasses 40 possessions in an Australian Rules Football game, or takes a set off Andre Agassi.

WHY WOULD the Australian government warn us against visiting Indonesia? After all, everybody there looks so happy

GARETH PARKER – now returned to his former lodgings after a week slumming it at Blogger – is right: Wog Blog is compulsory daily reading, on everything from Scottish stereotypes and Italian Christmas desserts to the alleged "rounding up" of California Muslims.

TIME MAGAZINE made an important decision last year and didn't tell anyone about it. In naming Rudy Guiliani its 2001 Person of the Year, Time decided that the annual announcement would be an honour. Previously, the magazine's Person of the Year had been that year's major newsmaker; in 1938, for example, Time named Adolf Hitler.

By newsmaker standards, the 2001 PoY should have been Osama bin Laden. But the magazine wimped out. Now they're stuck with their new, non-news based PoY formula, which this year delivers these recipients:

An FBI agent who wrote a scathing memo on the agency's intelligence failures and women who blew the whistle on corruption at corporate giants Enron and WorldCom have been named Time magazine's Persons of the Year.

The magazine's editors chose Coleen Rowley, Cynthia Cooper and Sherron Watkins "for believing - really believing - that the truth is one thing that must not be moved off the books, and for stepping in to make sure that it wasn't".

Time managing editor Jim Kelly said the women embodied a critical struggle facing the country - how to restore trust in disgraced institutions, from major corporations to the Catholic Church. "All three are just resolute in standing up for what is right. All three of them are made of very strong character."

Now that Time is in the business of awarding mini-Nobels for community achievement, who will take over the abandoned Newsmaker of the Year franchise? Perhaps a panel of bloggers should run it.

THE GLOBE and Mail's Rex Murphy writes mean and funny on celebrities and their mission to save us all.

FIRST, white McDonald's bags returned. Now Moira Breen has news of Coke being sold in glass bottles.

THE SYDNEY Morning Herald has fallen for alleged research – already seized upon by AFP – that prove men crave wasted, skinny chicks. We're imposing unhealthy self-images on easily manipulated women! The research, such as it is, appears in the British Medical Journal, and is based on analysis of Playboy models:

Research now shows the magazine's models have been getting thinner since Marilyn Monroe first stretched across its pages in 1953.

All but one of those selected as men's fantasy women since 1992 have been medically underweight, an analysis of the women's weight-for-height ratios found.

The fact the trend was continuing showed that men's idea of gorgeousness was not an immutable response, but was tied to fashion and culture, researcher Martin Voracek said.

Dr Voracek, a psychologist from the University of Vienna, went to the Playboy website for details of the height, weight, bust, waist and hip measurements of every centrefold model since the magazine began.

On crunching the numbers, he discovered the women were getting both thinner and straighter, with less difference between their waist and bust or hip sizes.

Dr Voracek seems to believe that Playboy's centrefold choices represent an absolute indication of prevailing male ideals. Here's some more numbers for Dr Voracek – and the SMH – to crunch: the Australian edition of Playboy ran out of cash and closed in January 2000. The US edition now sells only 3.1 million copies per month, down 50% from its '70s sales peak.

Playboy publishes pictures of increasingly skinny women. Playboy becomes less popular. Could there be a link?

In response to an earlier post on the subject, Pittsburgh's John Davies wrote:

Did they factor in the date when Christie Hefner took over the lead role from her father? The women in Playboy look like the kind of women that women like.

From the empirically-minded Charles Austin:

Visit a topless bar and let me know if the starved-waif-that-might-be-a-man-in-a-g-string look is in.

Peter Kerr believes the study's premise is flawed, and presents evidence to support his claim:

Is this the same Playboy I've been 'reading'? The one full of freakish-looking Anna Nicole Smith clones, chockablock full of silicon and botox? The study seems to have effected their eyesight.

"A MAN LARGER IN EVERY SENSE THAN ANY MAN SHOULD BE": Stephanie Bunbury has re-written her Michael Moore love poem, first seen in The Sydney Morning Herald. The new, improved Bunbury article, published in Melbourne's Age, now contains 20% more gush. Some excerpts:

There is just no getting around Michael Moore. He is like a sea lion shuffling about on land in a baseball cap, barking at the rich and powerful and roaring with laughter at the same time, a man larger in every sense than any man should be.

Moore can pull down the big money because has an almost uncanny talent for picking the issue of the moment.

His most recent book, Stupid White Men, is a comic take on the state of his nation that takes George, the Lesser Bush, as its chief target. It is a terrific book, deservedly his greatest success yet.

It is these two qualities, his humour and his open mind, that make his films so entertaining.

Not to mention his open mouth. Previous targets of Bunbury's cold, clinical analysis include George Clooney ("This Perfect Man") and Australian comedian John Clarke: "Clarke really believes in democratic virtue. It is part of his golden glow. Just talk to people, he says, and you hear that satirical instinct, the urge to mimic and make fun of the absurdities around us." I think she likes him.