Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but daytime TV talk shows have become a vast, fetid, sump-sucking wasteland, populated by a parade of circus geeks and sideshow oddities that would have given even Federico Fellini a case of grade-A, toss-in-your-sleep, ate-a-garlic-cheese-and-sushi-calzone-right-before-bedtimeni- ghtmares. And that's just the hosts.

With everything that's on daytime television today, one thought continues to haunt me: How in the hell did Richard Bey get canceled?

Lest anyone think I'm biting the hand that feeds me, let me clarify: When I speak of talk shows, I mean the anti-Darwinian, Lord of the Flies cluster-fucks that pass for daytime programming. The shows where the basic rules of human discourse are paid about as much attention as Linda Hunt on the set of "Baywatch."

Now, I'm not saying they all suck like airplane toilets, but you could safely conclude that the good ones can be counted on the one hand of a bad wood shop teacher.

It's not hard to figure out why these shows are popular. They answer the burning question: "What do the people we see being arrested on 'Cops' do during the day?"

Why have these daytime chatfests flourished? Well, the answer is that all the smart people are working when this shit is on. The submorons who watch this dreck are the people nobody wants to hire.

That's the only way I can explain the sheer number of gene pool skimmings that make it on the air. I swear, you can still see the jelly on their foreheads where the electroshock terminals were attached. And what I find so scary is that some of these shows have been on for years but they still manage to find this Fantasia broom army of social misfits to appear on them. They all look like they've just stepped out of a William Faulkner rough draft, mouth-breathing freaks who make Jethro Bodine look like David Niven.

But these shows do provide a service. They weave together some of the shabbier threads in the fabric of our society and give them a voice . . . even if that voice is frequently only heard in their own heads. Hey, how many times have I seen chunky tattooed women slap-fighting in the Laundromat parking lot and wished I knew the back story?

And the Yoda of Daytime, the Professor Emeritus of emotional chum, is one Jerry Springer, Esquire. Now, here's a man who has become a household name . . . make that a trailer-hold name, by offering daily spectacles that make Brazilian snuff films seem uplifting by comparison.

Each day Springer ladles through the primordial ooze like some psychotic cafeteria lady and dishes up the mystery meat of the human condition.

My favorite part of the Jerry Springer show is Jerry's "Final Thought." Yeah, like all of a sudden Jerry is going to add some perspective and sanity to tie it all together. I got news for you. Jerry has only one final thought. And you know what that is? "Are the Siamese-Twin Hasidic Skinheads confirmed for tomorrow?"

We are the rubberneckers and Springer and his ilk orchestrate the train wrecks we all slow down to ogle. And the freak stakes have to be jacked up higher with each passing day because, let's face it, folks, we are less shockable than David Lynch in a pair of platform galoshes.

Well, that just about wraps this rant up, but here's my final thought. What kind of world would it be if we weren't all inexorably drawn to watching trashy chicks scream at each other right before they get a makeover that looks like it was done by a guy who paints murals on the sides of vans, only to find out that no amount of makeover will be enough to assuage their pain at losing their man to another ho's hoochie?

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


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