The retards at the Arizona Republic, and why they deserve the fate of T. Rex.

You pay for the paper, and you write the paper! Why? Because the Rep blows, son.

One staple of late night comedians like Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, Carson Daly, David Letterman, etc. is a "funny pics" bit where the host will run through a number of photos, offering up amusing one-liners about the snapshot in question. There are a zillion variations on this sort of bit, and they are often amusing. Why? Because each of these guys has a stable of very highly paid individuals called "writers" whose primary mission is to elicit laughs from an audience and presumably, also from you, the viewer at home. It's a very competitive biz, and if one of these exotic creatures fails to produce yuks through their stellar comedic abilities, they're eventually made to walk the plank and end up writing copy for cereal boxes, if they're lucky.

Tough racket. There's no school you can attend to learn how to write funny. Either you can do it or you can't. And most people in Phoenix can't, which is why they're in Phoenix to begin with, selling real estate, fluffing pillowcases at Bed Bath and Beyond, or working for the Arizona Repugnant -- you know, the prune-juice rag in town -- where in an attempt to be "edgy" and get with this whole Internet thing about a decade too late, they've adopted what they consider to be ground-breaking innovations, like the Repugnant's "You Write the Caption," segment, run on the Monday editorial page. That's right, the Rep's grizzled old fossils figure it's a hoot to let their blue-haired subscribers come up with captions for some pic of Snoop Dogg, Queen Elizabeth, or this week, John Edwards, whose high-priced follicles have by now been "done" so often by pundits and TV comics that the mere mention of his name elicits groans in most sentient beings, including many common family pets.

The clueless dullards at the Repugnant may not all be close to pulling Social Security checks, but even those without crow's feet and Depends undergarments act as if they possess and wear each, respectively. Which is probably why they solicit the aid of the public in this asinine class-participation project, because they themselves have all the originality of a bucket of baked beans. Unfortunately, the cretins who enjoy reading the Repugnant's sorry pabulum ain't much better on the funny tip. So their input is equally lame-o.

Take for example today's you-write-it on the subject of the aforementioned Edwards, who is pictured grabbing his chin with one hand. Ah, the wit flows like blackstrap molasses down a frozen weather vane. Two of the 13 chosen selections come from Sun City or thereabouts, which should tell you something. No doubt clippings of the article adorn all 13 refrigerators of the contributors so the denture-rattling hilarity can be relived daily in glorious newsprint.

Sun City denizen Chuck Hooker, whom I suspect plays a mean game of pinochle, offers this rib-tickler, "I sure hope no one figures out there is absolutely nothing under this hair!" While Mindy Jonas, the Wanda Sykes of Scottsdale, pens, "Dang it! I should have gone to Supercuts!" Payson wag Sheila Wilde writes, "I'll bet Bill O'Reilly thinks I'm a popinjay." (Scuttlebut is Sheila had to hold herself back from using the word "hum-dinger" in her entry.) And finally Casa Grande cutup Betty Emmons let fly this bit of verbal flatulence, "Is my chin a Jay Leno or a Kirk Douglas?" Remember, Douglas was one hunk o' man back in them Spartacus days.

There's a lot of kvetching and wringing of hands in the newspaper business as dailies lose subscribers to other media or to death via old age. For fishwraps like the Rep, there should be a warning label that states, "May cause hardening of the arteries." As I've said, it's not the physical age of those writing and editing that travesty of a paper. The Rep's scribes were born old. They should be working in banks or customer service, where they belong. Edgy? Like a jar of wooden spoons. They can't even fake it. Daily newspapers were not always this way. Rather, they've become this way over time. And the more they dumb it down, and offer up crap like this to paying customers, the harder I'll applaud when they're gone

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