|ON CROSSING MILLER.|
|By Rick Chandler||
|Art Jim Cooke|
Hey Dennis Miller, nice game, cha-cha. We've found the weapons of mass destruction; apparently they were in your golf bag.
Don't take that the wrong way -- all I'm saying is that I've never seen golf tournament first aid tent employ triage. Your gallery heard the word "incoming" more often than the defenders of Fort Sumter. Oh well, it was all for charity, right? It's wasn't? Then all those ducks died for nothing?
Our story so far: Comedian Dennis Miller has taken to the Celebrity Golf Tour, making his debut last month at the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament at Lake Tahoe, NV, which also happens to be where I live. And so, learning of this, I seized up my notebook and raced to Edgewood Tahoe, prepared at last for a face-to-face with my nemesis.
It was in May, you see, that I wrote this for The Black Table, a scathing indictment of Miller's sudden idealogical shift to the right. It got quite a bit of feedback, and I received many emails asking what I would do if I ever met the man in the flesh.
Duck for cover, as it turns out.
Dennis, I'm beginning to understand this whole self preservation thing you've got going. For you, it's embracing conservatisim to save your career. For me, it was scurrying behind the tree with the largest circumference as you teed off. As a golfer, Dennis Miller is not good. But he's a Republican now, so he has to play it -- it's the law.
So there he was on Saturday in Tahoe, walking literally and figuratively in the footsteps of Rush Limbaugh and Dan Quayle, two other tournament participants who mingled with the usual sports celebrities such as John Elway, Emmitt Smith, Mark McGwire, Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan.
Among the non-sports types in the field were Jesse Ventura, Kevin Nealon, Michael O'Keefe (Danny Noonan from Caddyshack) and Chris Kattan.
I asked Nealon, as Subliminal Man, to assess his chances:
"I think I have as good a shot as anyone (not a chance in hell). But the field is going to be very tough (they stink)."
But it was Miller I was after. Moments after stealing a golf cart and arriving at the first tee, I formulated my strategy.
You know, "stalking" is such an ugly word. Let's just say that I followed his threesome all day -- the other two of which being Charles Barkley and actor Craig T. Nelson. I noted Miller's every word, and every shot. There were seemingly thousands of each.
Miller, in his own words:
Sixth hole: "Want to take out that pin on the odd chance that I might run into it?"
Eighth: (Watching Nelson tee off): "Coach still cares about his game. Charles and I are just looking for the shade."
Twelfth: (Noticing Michael Jordan's red-and-white checkered pants): "I think I saw Lady and the Tramp eating pasta off of Jordan's pants."
I know I've already mentioned that Miller is a terrible golfer, but really it cannot be stressed enough. It's fitting that he has taken up golf just as he has embraced the Republican Party -- both, it turns out, are responsible for record-setting inflation. Were those Miller's three-day totals on the leaderboard, or Jordan's career points with the Bulls? Miller finished dead last, the only thing saving him from certain death from exposure being the modified Stableford scoring system in which no one could score higher than a 5 on any hole.
Finally, it was over. Miller finished at 18, signed his scorecard, blew off a couple of TV reporters, and headed to the refreshment tent. I waited for him outside. Noticing Johnny Bench signing autographs not too far away, I imagined myself as immoveable and determined. I would not be denied. Also I had appeared in 12 All-Star Games ... clearly the fantasy was out of hand.
But then Miller emerged, and I was there, tape recorder poised for the historic showdown.
Pleasantries were exchanged. I noted that he had recently played a gig at Paris Las Vegas, which was ironic, I said, due to the fact that his act now consists mainly of bashing the French. He laughed at this.
"The people at Paris Las Vegas are the antithesis of the actual French," he said. "No conflicts there."
I bored in. How has his hip fan base, I asked, reacted to his hard tack to starboard? He seemed not to want to answer the question. I persisted. Has it saddened him, I asked, to have left so many of his fans behind?
"Listen, my politics are my politics," he said, the words coming now in the familiar machine-gun-style delivery. "I have to speak my mind, we live in serious times. You can't fudge your reactions to the world around you, and I just say what I want. And people can do what they want with it."
But people are saying, Dennis, that this is all a career move. You took the Fox News gig because nothing else was really working out.
"You know, I'm almost 50 years old," he said. "I don't do it to either be approved of or disdained of, I do it because it's what I have to say."
And he held fast to that line.
"Listen, I don't advocate anything radical," he said. I think America's got to protect its ass. I think when people want to blow us up, I think we should blow them up first. It's as simple as that."
How about putting that into Milleresque terms? Throw a guy a few obscure references, babe.
"Sorry," he said. "The simile motor burned out on 14."
And with that, he ambled off toward the clubhouse, where all Republicans end up, eventually. I then also headed off, seeking other celebrities.
The next day, Stone Phillips missed me by inches on a shot near the ninth
fairway. We exchanged words. But that's another story.
More from Mr. Chandler:
Rick Chandler is the former managing editor of Ironminds.com, and is now a columnist for NBCSports.com. He owns many attractive ties.