By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

The national news was crowded with big stories this week, and most of them turned out to be somehow joined at the hip with major league Sports -- especially Football and its sinister connections with tainted money and naked women. It was shocking.

"This is horrible news," I said to Anita, as Janet Jackson's tortured right nipple was rubbed in our face for the 55th time in three days. "Nobody remembers the final score in Houston, but we ALL witnessed the shameless quasi-naked sight of that breast and S&M-style nipple shield."

George Bush
George Bush and John Kerry lost the battle to baseball.

It was like having football and porno all at once, with no holds barred ... Or that's what they said on TV, anyway. CBS News Wizard Ed Bradley called it a magic moment for show business.

But not in the White House. George Bush went out of his way to announce formally that he went to sleep long before the end of the first half.

What kind of all-American boy would say a stupid thing like that while he's running for re-election? Only a fool would deliberately insult the whole Football Nation, at a nervous time when polls show his Job Approval Rating plunging below 50 percent for the first time since he took office in January of 2001. That is like stabbing yourself in the back while you're preparing to fight for your life on a street corner. It is dumb, and so is the dingbat who told Bush to say it.

Many things are disturbing these days. We live in ugly times, and some people and institutions are losing their grip. The list is long, from Janet Jackson to Howard Dean to the city of Boston and the disgusting sex scandal at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Some people got rich from it all, but not many. A-Rod and the Yankees were big winners, along with George Steinbrenner; and the surging Presidential ambitions of Mass. Sen. John Kerry, who already leads George Bush (the younger) in most Presidential polls. And this is only the middle of February. We still have six months to kill before Election Day, and that is a lifetime in a business where the difference between living and dying is usually a matter of hours.

This is no time for the "leader of the free world" to be falling asleep at massively-popular sporting events. He is already trailing heavily in polls among football fans and young males who would do anything to see a naked female nipple during halftime at the Super Bowl.

That is a hell of a lot of eligible voters to insult when your chances of living in the White House this time next year are less than 50-50.

Was he drunk? Does he fear the sight of an uncovered nipple? Was he lying? Does he believe in his heart that there are more evangelical Christians in this country than football fans and sex-crazed yoyos with unstable minds? Is he really as dumb as he looks and acts?

These are all unsatisfactory questions at a time like this. Is it possible that he has already abandoned all hope of getting re-elected? Or does he plan to cancel the Election altogether by declaring a national military emergency with terrorists closing in from all sides, leaving him with no choice but to launch a huge bomb immediately?

All these things are possible, unfortunately, in a White House that is drowning in it's own failures. Desperate men do desperate things, and stupid men do stupid things. We are in for a desperately stupid summer.

But so what? March Madness is just around the corner; and after that comes the Stanley Cup and the long-running NBA playoffs. It's really not so bad at all, is it.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears regularly on Page 2.