I'll bet the Euroweenies figured that with Lance Armstrong's retirement, they could get back to the normality of a European winning the Tour de France - maybe even, inshallah, an actual Frenchman winning it (which hasn't happened since 1985).
Between Landis, Armstrong, and LeMond, that makes 11 of the last 21 Tours that an American has won. And even though Landis is going for hip replacement surgery which will probably keep him out of next year's Tour, Tyler Hamilton will be fresh off his two-year ban and mad as hell...
And speaking of pimp-slapping the French, we now learn that not only was certified France-owner Lance Armstrong clean when he first won the Tour de Lance in 1999, the French national doping lab was up to something fishy when it 'leaked' documents and urine samples allegedly implicating Armstrong to the French sports newspaper L'Equipe (in English: "The Eunuch"):
Dutch investigators cleared Lance Armstrong of doping in the 1999 Tour de France yesterday and blamed the World Anti-Doping Agency for misconduct in dealing with him.
A 132-page report recommended convening a tribunal to discuss possible legal and ethical violations by WADA and to consider "appropriate sanctions to remedy the violations."
Last year, I wrote about Ted Nugent's appearance on Bob & Tom, where he discussed his USO trip to Fallujah with Toby Keith. Well, Uncle Ted's back in the news again; this time, he did an interview for (London's) The Independent. Why is this significant? Here's one reason:
He rarely gives interviews to the British press; the last time he did, some years ago, he managed what is possibly the most extraordinary achievement of his remarkable career - proving too right-wing for the Daily Telegraph.
Ted is quotable as always, as evidenced by
"And I visited Saddam Hussein's master war room. It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars. I saw his gold toilet. I shit in his bidet."and
This was the night, Nugent recalls, when he received "the pivotal confirmation of my musical touch and my life overall. The mighty funk brother God of Thunder [Benny Benjamin, drummer for Motown house band The Funk Brothers] told me: 'Boy, keep playing like that and you'z gonna be a [deleted - starts with 'n'] when ya grows up.'"and
"GOD SENT ME HERE TO MAKE SURE THESE LICKS CAME OFF OF A GUITAR. THEY ARE PERFECT. THEY ARE FUCKING PHENOMENAL."and
He mounts an interesting defence of English foxhunting. "So, they're pompous little prima donnas. So what? I say, go wild. Fox hunting may not be weird enough. Get the kings and the princes. Abolish royalty, rather than criticise some broker from Surrey who likes dressing up like a prick."and
"You wrote a song called 'Dog Eat Dog'. You see the world like that. But we're not dogs - that's the trouble."but the remark that caused me to snarf on my beer was this one:
"Remember the movie Old Yeller? Everybody loved him. He brought us our slippers. We gave him cookies. But when Old Yeller gets rabies, you shoot him in the fucking head. It's that simple."
"What do these deer think when they see you coming?" I ask him. "Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there's the man that shot my brother?"
"I don't think they're capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey asshole. They're only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French."
By now, of course, you know that Lance Armstrong has won his sixth consecutive Tour de France. What I found interesting is French TV coverage of the awards ceremony (it airs on OLN with OLN commentary, but the video is from French TV): while they were playing the national anthem and hoisting the Stars and Stripes, they showed the flag for a total of about six seconds - three seconds of the unfurled-flag going up the pole, and a three second closeup - I guess you could call it an art shot - of the center of the striped section.
What's the matter, Pierre? A little sensitive about seeing Old Glory flying over the Champs-Elysees again? And again? And again and again and again and again?
Who said those Nigerian email scams don't pay off? Somebody's cashing in. From Salon (may be a Premium link, just watch the ad):
"When British officials intercepted a Nigerian man with a briefcase stuffed with $200,000 at London's Heathrow airport, they thought they had stumbled upon a terrorist trail.OK, OK, the money was actually headed into Nigeria, but let's not quibble over details.
Instead, the cash-filled carry-on has led to the highest-profile corruption case yet in Nigeria, where bribery scandals have been reaching to the world's leading capitals, including Washington."
"Three former Nigerian Cabinet ministers and two other former government officials are due in court Friday in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, on charges of accepting part of more than $1 million in bribes from France's electronics giant, SAGEM SA. The accusations stemmed from September's Heathrow arrest.There's at least one important fact missing here, because it sure looks like the French want to charge an American for something that happened in Nigeria. This is either sloppy journalism or unprecedented French arrogance. Maybe both. I'm going to keep an eye on this story.
It's only one international Nigerian payoff probe: In Paris, a French judge has reportedly warned that Vice President Dick Cheney could be charged over allegations that his former company, Halliburton, paid $180 million in bribes to build a Nigerian gas plant. Halliburton has called the accusations untrue, and Cheney's spokesmen have refused to comment on the case.
. . .
Nigeria also is following the French probe into allegations that a consortium involving Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root paid about $180 million to win a contract to build the $4 billion-plus Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant in the mid-1990s.
Cheney was head of Halliburton for five of the seven years during which the secret payments were allegedly made.
French daily Le Figaro reported last month that Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke had warned the Justice Ministry in a confidential memo that embezzlement charges ultimately could be filed against Cheney. But he added that it was too early to say whether this was likely, Le Figaro said."
At the very end of this story about how we captured Saddam's Defense Minister came this little gem:
"French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in Berlin they could help train Iraqi soldiers and police, but France also insisted Washington hand power to an Iraqi government in 'months, not years.'"
First, this reminds me of an old joke:
The French are the chefs,
the Italians are the lovers,
the Swiss are the bankers,
the Germans are the mechanics,
and the British are the police.
The British are the chefs,
the Swiss are the lovers,
the Italians are the bankers,
the French are the mechanics,
and the Germans are the police.
Second, here's the parade ground at New Improved Iraqi Army basic training, as run by the French:
"Right shoulder... arms!
To the rear... march!
Double time... march!"
MiF pointed me to a Chicago Boyz post by French expat Sylvain Galineau, who has some advice for the French on how to think about America. It also is a good summing-up of why a lot of Americans are leery of any kind of pan-European political entity:
"And remember every time you babble about it: the UN is an American creation; and the right to punch well above our [French] weight in that venue has been granted to us by them and their allies, those who actually won World War II by obliterating a tyranny the like of which Americans are incapable of. Because Americans are people who escaped tyrannies, famines, political persecution, imperialism, colonialism, intolerance, communism, genocide and all the other wonderfully sophisticated things Europeans engineered over the past few hundred years. And they built a unique nation out of their deep, first-hand, collective understanding of what not to do. So listen. Carefully."
"Barbara Kiming, director commercial minimizes the fall: 'approximately 5 %'. With the Carlton hotel of Cannes, 'the Americans represent approximately 20 % of our customers. And one passed roughly speaking from 20 to 15 %.'"(OK, so babelfish doesn't go French->English all that well) Anyway, I don't know where Barbara learned her math, but from my perspective, if the American share of her business went from 20% to 15% of the total, that's a drop in American business of 25%, not 5%!
All is not 'huzzah' and 'bully for you!', though. The French, who are still trying to cope with an American repeatedly winning their crown jewel sporting event, now have to endure their best cyclists getting punked by a one-winged man! They're not taking it too well. Career Tour second fiddle Raymond Poulidor said that Hamilton should have given up after his injury:
"'In my opinion it's useless what he's trying to do," Poulidor told AFP. 'It's a brave attempt but, if he really does have a double fracture then it would be better for him to give up the race. Once he really needs to start pulling on the handlebars it's going to be very painful.'"Of course, being French, he should know about giving up. The 1987 Tour winner, Irishman Stephen Roche, was also less than enthusiastic about Hamilton's performance:
"'It's definitely been blown out of proportion. It's totally ridiculous,' Roche told AFP prior to the start of the 11th stage from Narbonne to Toulouse. 'If the doctor says it's broken or fractured then he shouldn't be racing. It's as simple as that.'"To Roche's credit, though, he did predict a top-five finish for Hamilton before Stage 11, but even that was a left-handed compliment:
"'A top five finish? I think it's still possible. He got through the Alps okay and so the Pyrenees shouldn't be any problem. 'We'll be passing nearby Lourdes soon, so maybe he should light a candle.'"
Denial is but the first stage in learning to cope, so it's pretty clear that's where the French are with regards to Hamilton; they think that he overstated the extent of his injury or even faked it altogether (disclaimer: secondhand info, with another secondhand reference here)!
"Last week Didier Rous declared that Hamilton could not possibly have a broken collarbone and said outright that Hamilton was faking. French sophistication and class in your face. Hamilton's team manager Bjarne Riis provided X-rays this weekend which were shown on French State TV in order to dispel any doubts. This guy Rous has some fucking big mouth, especially considering that any French rider with so much as a broken fingernail will obtain a doctors' certificate and load up on prescription drugs before leaving the race. "
Count on Merde In France to pull no punches.
A rare double entry today--Bill Hobbs scores a Remark Of The Day for summing up the situation in the Tour de France after today's stage (where Armstrong won despite crashing, leaving him and Jan Ullrich as the only riders with a real chance to win):
"Hmm. An American and a German are the only two people with a chance to win in France. Yeah. That's normal! :-)"