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38. The circus has left town - or has it?

It's the end of an era, folks. This week marks the permanent closure of an antiquated production known for its gaudy spectacle, showmanship, and cruelty.

Yes, that's right — say good-bye to the Clinton Foundation. Having lost the presidency, Bill and Hillary now lack a vehicle for influence peddling, so they're shutting down their controversial foundation.

Wait, no, that's not what this post is about.

After 146 years of successfully preventing riots by pissed-off elephants and instilling a deep-seated fear of clowns in generations of young people, Ringling Brothers is calling it quits. We'll miss cramming ourselves onto cold, merciless, back-breaking bleachers to watch dogs ride tricycles and otherwise unemployable trapeze artists risk death. We'll wax nostalgic for the unique smell of sulfur, cotton candy, and elephant dung.

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The show that, for all intents and purposes, was "the circus" in the United States has been panned over the years for its mistreatment of animals, elephants in particular - much like MSNBC. People just don't go to the circus anymore for countless reasons, ranging from the ease and mass appeal of Netflix to the fact that the circus has become, well, boring. But we have an alternate theory that has nothing to do with animal cruelty (or our horror at the thought of legions of unemployed clowns roaming the land, terrifying small children at birthday parties and blowing balloon animals on the nation's sidewalks).

The truth is the Ringling Brothers circus simply couldn't compete with the modern, American political circus. When the president-elect of the United States routinely tweets at people like a high-school kid 'pwning' his rivals, when presidential news conferences feature the POTUS telling people to shut up and sit down, the political circus dwarfs the parodies presented by Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, and every other attempt at satire.

Who cares about Alec Baldwin's impression of Donald Trump when Trump himself is doing a parody of a parody of a guy pretending to be Trump? It's the political circus to end all circuses, and we've all got a ringside seat. Who needs Ringling Brothers when you've got an eye-popping carnival with a consummate showman as ringmaster, the political establishment walking the high wire, and a media machine launching a steady stream of irresistible 'fake news' from a cannon. 

Truth is always stranger than fiction, and real politics are pushing the boundary of self-parody in ways we've never seen before. Frankly, Ringling Brothers can fade into obscurity for all we care; Congress has all the clowns we'll ever need. But if you'd like to express your appreciation for the new 'Greatest Show on Earth,' snap up this Tee today.

 

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