TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Rasslin’ And Reportin’

The next help wanted ad we run will go something like this: “JOURNALIST NEEDED: Must have strong language skills, a willingness to ask hard questions and be able to take a punch.”

After Greg Gianforte, U.S. Rep.-elect from Montana,  body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last week, it became clear the trail blazed by Jesse “The Body” Ventura in 1998 had finally come full circle.

The relationship between politicians and journalists has always been adversarial. Few historians will tell you (in the interest of accuracy, I guess) Richard Nixon once gave Carl Bernstein a wedgie. Technically, Nixon may have invented the thong. He also coined the phrase, “Prime the pump.”

I suppose it had to come to this pro-wrestling approach, which I embrace — not because I’m particularly tough but because I look good in tights. This has me thinking about my dream card, featuring notable politicians and members of the media.

Lloyd Omdahl vs. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven

Let’s start the undercard with columnist and former lieutenant governor “Cool Hand” Lloyd Omdahl taking on Sen. John “Ball-Peen Hammer” Hoeven. Lloyd knows karate, kung fu, yoga, yogurt, tia chi, and feng shui. Hoeven can burp the alphabet after three beers.

Despite Hoeven’s youth advantage and the fact he has the best mustache in the Senate, I pick Omdahl to win because I expect Hoeven to instinctively curl up in a fetal position under his desk like he has since November, waiting for this Trump thing to blow over.

It’s like when your crazy Aunt Jane starts singing the wrong song loudly and badly in church. You smile as if to express to your fellow parishioners, “Isn’t she cute?” Or you move to another pew and pretend she’s not with you.

Rob Port vs. U.S. Rep Kevin Cramer

This match pits Rob “The Thesaurus” Port, against Congressman Kevin “Gump” Cramer. Port is the the man behind “The State’s Most Influential Blog’ — influential in the way mosquitoes are when you’re trying to nap in your hammock.

I know they’re bestest friends forever, but this will be good. For one thing, you know in the interview to promote the match, Port is going to use the word “adjudicate” at least 10 times. He thinks it has something to do with the Palestinian problem. If you take a shot of tequila every time he says it, you will need a designated liver. Meanwhile, Cramer has taken half a page from Muhammad Ali. His technique is best described as Dope-A-Dope.

Will there be a violence? Hardly. They’ll come out in the ring, agree climate change is a hoax and trickle-down economics works, then hug and kiss — tongues even — and that is going to totally freak everyone out.

Joel Heitkamp vs. State Sen. Janne Myrdal

This one will be a doozy. KFGO Radio talker Joel “Fake Knees” Heitkamp will have the weight advantage, no matter what the program says. There are more fibs on his driver’s license than in a presidential tweet. I mean, who lies about eye color?

Then there’s Sen. Janne “The Gay Nazi Hunter” Myrdal, who has the distinct height and reach advantage. She can touch heaven from the top rope. I feel bad saying this, as Joel is a friend of mine. But I’m betting Myrdal will smite him in two out of three falls because God is on her side. Joel is such a bad Catholic, he’s almost Lutheran.

The reality is Joel is, at best, only the fourth-toughest Heitkamp in his family, and that’s not even counting cousins. He’s is the only talk show host who should have a full-time cut man. At Thanksgiving, they still make him sit at the card table, and there’s not a darn thing he can do about it. When his sister, Heidi, calls in from the U.S. Senate, his corner doesn’t technically throw in the towel, but they do mercifully cut to a commercial.

One recent interview went something like this:

Joel: “Sen. Heitkamp can you explain your vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch?”

Heidi: “When I see you next, I’m going to pin you down and make you eat bugs.”

Tony “Poison Pen” Bender vs. State Rep. “Raging Bull” Carlson

I’m gonna come clean here. There is no way this match comes off. A lot of that has to do with my cowardice. Carlson, the North Dakota House Majority Leader, is so mean, he’d hit his grandma with a folding chair. And me? I just look good in tights. I want no part of this.

I am doing my very best to get injured in training, so I can save face. I’ve already burned my hand on a cigar and dropped a six-pack on my big toe. It’s probably broken. That imperils my strategy which, in boxing parlance, is to dance. Or if it is in a dark alley, run like hell. The good news is, Al probably ain’t gonna rassle me in any casino he didn’t build.

© Tony Bender, 2017

2 thoughts on “TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Rasslin’ And Reportin’”

  • Hope Johnston June 4, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    That was wonderfully, refreshingly funny. Thanks.

  • Neill Goltz June 5, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Wonderful – and I know Ben Jacobs


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