American Idol
Ahhhh, there's nothing quite so cruel and entertaining as the first three weeks of American Idol. Sure it's great to watch raw talent emerge from the streets of Atlanta, talented crooners like Terrence or Lauren, but c'mon, let's be honest, we're sadistic voyeurs, all 20 million of us tuning in to watch the the courageous and clueless, like promo posterboy Pablo Amorim, humiliate themselves at the altar of reality television. It's the 21st-century version of the coliseum with all of us pretending we're there to see a handful of vocal warriors defy the odds and realize their dreams. But what we're really doing is salivating over the prospect of seeing hopes dashed to pieces by the terrible trifecta of Randy, Paula and, of course, Simon.

And we weren't disappointed. Simon thought Kristen, who lost 80 pounds and felt great about herself, was putting them on by pretending to sing awfully. But apparently her lack of talent was authentic. Less authentic was Randy and Simon's impromptu departure, thus leaving Paula alone with buff boy Alan so that he could serenade her. Yeah, he has the looks and can carry a tune, but methinks they sent him to Hollywood less for his pipes and more for playing to the script.

The best/worst moment of the night was the nine-way medley of wannabes butchering the Aladdin ballad "A Whole New World." Reminiscent of the opening to The Brady Bunch, it was an absolute assault on the senses and it was everything we love about this bastard child of Star Search and The Gong Show.

State of the Union Address
What a mess!

I'm not talking about the country — America's doing great, says our Commander in Chief, and while I wish I shared his conviction, I'll leave the political discourse to the pundits — I'm talking about a production that's about as exciting as watching oatmeal cook. It's bad enough that every network in my broadcast area except the WB opts to air this annual pep rally, so would it kill them to make it just a little bit interesting? I mean, let's start with the President's entrance, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with members of Congress — no good. This event needs to take a cue from professional boxing or, better yet, professional wrestling. I want to see the leader of the free world bust through the crowd slappin' high fives with Ashcroft and bumpin' chests with Rumsfeld, while Cheney works up the crowd Arsenio-style: "Whoop! Whoop! Make some noise! Any Republicans in the house? Lemme hear you say booyah!" What else would I do to liven it up, to make it a must-see TV event worthy of being talking about? I'm glad you asked.

1. Screw tradition, stage this thing in a 10,000-seat stadium or sports arena complete with pyrotechnics, laser light shows and a rockin' band from the President's home state. (Hey, aren't the Butthole Surfers from Austin?)

2. Pop-ups VH1-style for the television audience to identify people in the crowd, like Charlie Rangel, the congressman from New York who decided to catch some z's late in the speech.

3. Forget about token foreign delegates like Adnan Pachachi, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council. The only Iraqi America wants to see is Saddam Hussein dressed in a pink tutu at the end of a dog leash and being paraded before an angry crowd of patriotic Americans!

OK, the Geneva Convention might have something to say about that last part, but you see what I'm getting at, right? By the way, did anyone else notice Dubya signing autographs for members of Congress on his way out? That's exactly the rock star mentality I'm talking about.

State of the Union Follow-up
Nancy Pelosi starts in with the Democratic rebuttal and I zone out. Her lips are moving but I'm focused on her eyes like a hawk; she's gonna blink, I just know it. She'd better, or I'm out five dollars to my wife, who keeps insisting she's an android in a bad red dress.

Send in the pundits. ABC has John Kerry, NBC has Newt Gingrich, PBS has Judy Woodruff from CNN. They're all talking about what the President said, and no doubt driving their viewers to channels like HGTV and GSN, anything to escape the chatter! Only CBS has sense enough to muzzle Dan Rather and give us the relief we need with Two and a Half Men. Jon Cryer is doing damage control with his 10-year-old son, who has grown too attached to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Finally, somebody's talking about issues that this average American can relate to. — Daniel R. Coleridge had the night off. Today's column was written by Daniel Roberts.