Will Rogers is credited with having said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” The full context shows that it came at the end of statement he made in a 1926 “Saturday Evening Post” article. He was talking about Leon Trotsky.

The full quote was: “I bet if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting fellow, for I never yet, met a man that I didn’t like.”

I’m the polar opposite of Rogers; I’ve never met a man I liked. OK, I lie; that’s not true, I just act that way. If anything, I give people the benefit of the doubt when I probably shouldn’t. My naivete has never matured into the cynicism one would expect from a person my age.

Before I get to today’s topic, related to Will Rogers (another of whose quotes is the headline on this) let’s direct ourselves to this week’s obligatory digression:

I don’t have to tell you that Leon Trotsky (1870-1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, was a Russian-Ukrainian Marxist, revolutionary, agitator, political theorist and politician. Nor do I have to remind you that he was ideologically a communist, but did develop a variant of Marxism that later became known Trotskyism. I don’t have to tell you that because I’m betting you already knew.

And how did you know? Let me guess: Because you, more than likely, own — and have assuredly read — the full-volume set of every single Wikipedia article ever published. It came, if I recollect, as a bonus gift with your George Foreman grill. The same grill that now sits on a shelf behind a dusty, forgotten can of Turtle Wax, which in turn sits next to the eight-track Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” exercise tapes, which, contrary to their objective, made you gain 15 pounds from the saccharine-infused buffoonery of its caricature-like, off-key-singing, make-believe trainer. Call it a hunch or intuition. My mom had psychic abilities, too. (Actually, I liked Richard; he didn’t let us take ourselves too seriously.)

OK, with that off-the-wall digression out of the way, please note that this column has nothing to do with Trotsky. I realize how disappointed you must be, but Hotsy Trotsky’s personality barely moved the needle on my tickle-me-pink-humor machine. For a columnist who is always looking for something to squeeze a joke out of, he simply didn’t make the cut. Incidentally, I saw Trotsky’s stand-up routine at a Siberian comedy club ….b-o-r-i-n-g!

Bolshevik humor just isn’t my cup of tea. “My friend is excellent at the game of Russian Roulette, he’s only lost one game.” Yeah, whatever, Leon. Don’t quit your daytime agitating gig.

Back to Will Rogers. He’s dead. At least, I hope he is … they buried him. Too soon? Sorry. But his politically-edged commentary lives on … kind of. Unfortunately, his folksy charm and witty barbs would probably be less welcome today as the harmless observations that they were. They’d be elevated to the gravitas of headline-grabbing importance with consequences to be paid.

Boycotts, pickets and the like would be the results of knee-jerk reactions from the boneheads who feign outrage because they simply like to hear themselves squawk. I know that’s true, remember, I’m a clairvoyant. (Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure there was a Claire Voyant working the deli at Al’s Corner Groceries’ store back in Ogdensburg.)

But seriously, folks, Rogers would be devastated to learn that his country’s embrace of satire has gone the way of the nickel cigar, and that the glow of humor and light of common sense has flickered out over the last decade. The questions begs to be asked: why?

Before I talk myself — and you — into the muck of despair, let’s move on and look at some other Will Rogers quotes. Here’s a little game you can play: Using either “democrat” or “republican,” put it next to the quote you think applies.

“Income tax has made more liars out of people than golf.”

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

“When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“Ignorance lies not in the things you don’t know, but in the things that ain’t so.”

“It is better for someone to think you’re a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

OK, so how’d you do? I’ll attempt my own Will Rogers-like quote: If you ascribed “republican” to a majority of the quotes, you’re a liberal who sees more than what’s really there. If you said “democrat” then you’re a modern-day conservative who can’t see what’s right in front of you.

There ya go, Will Rogers, that’s for you. Thank you, the sermon is over. Go in peace.

And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Happy birthday, Dad. Miss you:

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