Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What do you do for an encore after Al Roker goes to a Minuteman missile silo? Duck and Cover drills?

I couldn't believe my eyes. When I walked into the living room yesterday morning, Al Roker, the Today Show's ebullient weatherman, was visiting a Minuteman missile silo and command center in Montana -- addressing Armageddon with all of his customary gusto. "The most powerful weapons the world has ever seen!" he enthused. And his inquiring mind wanted to know how things worked. "These missiles have been sitting for a long time. How do we know they will work when we need them?" he asked. He was reassured that we had ample quality control procedures in place to ensure that Doomsday will come off as planned. (I tried to find a link to the video clip on the NBC site, but it doesn't seem to be there anymore -- maybe the Air Force found a security lapse somewhere in the picture, or just didn't want people studying the visuals for too long.)

It was flashback time for me. I haven't seen such cheerful optimism about The End of the World As We Know It since the old Duck and Cover days of Bert the Turtle. If you can breeze through a short update on nuclear devatation as part of a weather report, it can't really be all that serious, can it?

I couldn't help but wonder whose agenda was being served here. Stories like this don't just happen. Preparations have to be made. Several possibilities came to mind.
  • There must be some GE technology somewhere in those Minutemen. Maybe somebody in GE Public Relations woke up one morning and said, "We have to do more to promote our technology of mass destruction. Let's send Al Roker to a missile base."
  • Maybe the Air Force is seeking some good PR for upcoming budget battles. Maybe a Public information Officer woke up one morning and said, "Hey, let's invite Al Roker to a missile base."
  • Maybe we're planning to attack Iran and its nuclear sites, possibly with nuclear bunker busters. You don't use Minutemen missiles for that, but maybe the administration is trying to ramp up nuclear awareness a bit and at the same time desensitize the public to what's coming. Maybe Dick Cheney woke up one morning and said, "Hey, let's invite Al Roker to a missile base."
Call me a cynic, but I think the third is more likely. If they bring back Bert the Turtle, it's time to get scared. Really scared.

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