'Monty Python' Alum Eric Idle on American Politics: 'It Makes Hollywood Look Relatively Sensible'
This story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
I was asked to write about your election, which is quite difficult for a limey. It's such a different world. One is tempted to ask: "Are you serious? Is this for real? This is the world's greatest democracy we are supposed to envy? Really?" A more corrupt and insane system would be hard to invent. It makes Hollywood look relatively sensible. It makes the Greeks look comparatively honest. OK, it is not as bad as the Chinese, who seem somehow to have managed to combine Mao and Prada, but to an outsider, it does seem, well, totally nuts. Americans always are amazed to learn that the Brits have a three-week election period with no TV advertising allowed. You now seem to have a four-year election cycle, and it costs a fortune. Is it too rude to suggest that Mitt Romney could help pay off the deficit by, well, paying taxes? Either way, your election seems almost entirely about money. Politicians spend 80 percent of their time fund-raising, leaving almost no time to do their jobs and making them totally indebted to their sponsors. Lobbying, and television advertising paid for by wealthy corporations and special-interest groups, takes care of the rest. A level playing field? The Alps are flipping flatter.
Of course, as a foreigner, it's not my place to say such things. We can come over here, live in your fine houses, sleep with your women, toil in your workplaces, father your children and drive your cars, but the minute we criticize your system, we may be invited to take the first boat home. Freedom of speech? Yes, indeed, you can say what you want, but the exit's over there, and you're welcome to use it, Eric.
Americans have a great sense of humor but have very little humor about their political system. It is axiomatic that America has the best political system in the world. Apparently because God gave it to them. One nation under God? Well, perhaps five nations under 14 Gods. And I have to say that I personally believe in the separation of church and planet.
So I remain mum. I'm sorry, chaps. I'm just a loony who loves you, who loves to make you laugh, who lives among you, who thinks you are a great and fine people, until I turn on the TV during this endless election season. And then I start packing. No, not a gun, a suitcase.
So thanks for coming to rescue me from the Nazis when I was a baby and giving me Elvis and Miles Davis and the movies. And, yes, I am eternally grateful you brought American women into my life, but I'm the one in the bathroom with a handkerchief stuffed in my mouth counting down the days till it's over.
I deny I said any of this.
Eric Idle's comedy event What About Dick?, starring Russell Brand, Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard and Tracey Ullman, is available for download from Whataboutdick.com on Nov. 13.