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A collection of news topics worthy of discussion.

A few things you might have missed while focusing on the English as a Second Language gubernatorial debate in California:

· Some of my friends have been urging me to watch Playmakers, a football-themed, prime-time soap opera on ESPN. Finally, last week, I broke down and watched some of it. The episode was so mind-numbingly bad and so rectal-bleedingly offensive that when I was done watching it, I was no longer one of the smartest people I know. Now I'm just one of the people I know.

The show focused on one halftime of a game. Remember that old joke about somebody being so dumb it took them two hours to watch 60 Minutes? Well, this 20-minute halftime of the game lasted the entire hour of the show. And during that halftime:

--An assistant coach, who had been scoping out babes in the crowd at the behest of the star QB, brought a woman to the locker room for the player's inspection.

--An important player who got hurt in the first half is told that X-rays show that he has a very serious knee injury, but later is told there was a mix-up and those weren't his X-rays. (Does that mean that his knee shouldn't hurt any more?)

--The head coach kicked an assistant coach out of the locker room for being verbally abusive to some of the players! I didn't know that The Twilight Zone had its own football team.

--Two players get in a fight because one is having an affair with the other's wife.

--The star running back is doubled over in pain and has to excuse himself so he can go out to the players' parking lot and SCORE SOME CRACK from his dealer! He smokes the crack and then goes back in the game.

It's like the show's writers jotted down every rumor they'd ever heard about professional athletes and tried to cram them into one show. It may very well be the worst show I've ever seen on TV (and I once saw a show about a long-haul trucker and his chimp sidekick).

Here's how bad it was: I switched to ESPN 2, which had women's soccer, and felt a definite sense of upgrade.

· At the start of the current high school football season, I read that a local radio station (KCUB 1290 AM) was going to be doing a high school game of the week on the radio. I thought this was way cool.

But then, as the weeks went by, I realized that it's not the high school game of the week. It's the Salpointe game of the week. Just stab me in the spleen and let me bleed out slowly.

Actually, they have a decent football team this year, but not good enough to merit their own network. Still, coach Dennis Bene had better be careful. If he wins too many games, he might find himself having to apply for a job at Pima Community College.

What does annoy me a bit is that members of the local media talk about Salpointe football likes it's this long-time juggernaut. They won the 5A-South championship last year, but as John Wooden once said, "Lots of teams have won one (title) in a row."

· There's a reason why liberals should hate political correctness even more than conservatives, and that is that PC is often taken to stupid extremes, and liberals, being smarter, are more likely to be offended by said stupidity.

For example, last week, because Rosh Hashana began on Friday night, almost all of the big schools (Classes 5A and 4A) in Arizona played their high-school football games on Thursday, inconveniencing thousands of people around the state in ways great and small.

People usually don't get home from high-school football games until 10:30 p.m. or so. If it's a Friday, no big deal. Most people can sleep in the next day, and the kids have all weekend to do their homework. But last week, parents had to go to work the next day, and the players, cheerleaders, band members, and fans had to go to school, but not before staying up to all hours getting their homework done.

It all started last year in Phoenix when a couple parents at one school asked if the game could be moved. Obviously, high school teams have been playing football games on Rosh Hashana for more than a century without anybody complaining. It's a choice that people have to make. My kids have had to play basketball games or compete in track meets on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday and then rush to the church right after the game. Muslim families have to decide whether it's OK for their kids to play during Ramadan, and so on. It just comes with the territory.

· Deputy Pima County Attorney Rick Unklesbay declined to prosecute a Maricopa County public defender who left her child in the car in 112-degree temperatures. Unklesbay said he believed Tammy Wray-Hawkins' story that she didn't know that the kid was in the car! Unklesbay further stated that he wouldn't prosecute because he believed he wouldn't be able to get a conviction. Sometimes lost causes are the ones most worth fighting for.

As for the woman, she claims that her male friend/stud/sperm donor had put the kid in the car and didn't tell her. He won't be prosecuted, either. I'm sorry, but if you don't know where your 2-year-old kid is at all times, you suck as a parent. I'm beginning to think Margaret Sanger might have been on to something with her belief in eugenics. Some people just shouldn't have kids.

· Bruce Willis and his backup band went to Iraq to perform for U.S. troops. After the show, the troops were told that if they don't find Saddam Hussein within 60 days, Willis is coming back--and he's bringing Billy Bob Thornton along as a guest vocalist.

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