Everyone has heroes. Some people worship great athletes or great musicians. Other people worship makers of fine lighting fixtures. Of course, those people are idiots. Throughout history, many people have considered leading political figures to be their heroes. Churchill, Roosevelt, Ghandi, these are all names of people considered heroes by many. Incidentally, these are also all names of people George W. Bush could not identify to save his life.

Some people become more heroic with time. Lincoln was wildly unpopular while alive, but is now widely considered a saint of the Republic. Millard Filmore was, during his life, considered “dumber than a pile of poo,” but is now worshiped as a God by many people. Well,…actually, only one person: Ogden Brodsky of Portland, Oregon. Brodsky is the President of the ‘Filmore Freaks,’ a group of people (consisting mostly of just Ogden), who meet weekly in Ogden’s basement to discuss our thirteenth president and get loopy sniffing glue. But the point remains.

I have my own heroes. Among them are:

= Pete the Bob Dylan impersonator (although strangely, not Dylan himself)

= The man who invented the word “Buffet”

= All French people

= Anyone who calls for a ban on borscht

The reason I am ruminating on the subject of heroes is the Senior Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, announced he is retiring this week, and I’ve heard several well known television pundits refer to Ol’ Jesse as a “Hero.” Now, I know that it’s easy to say nice things about even horrible people who’ve had the decency to finally die. I’m sure that when someone finally buries a tomahawk in Saddam Hussein’s head, there will be lots of references to his “dancing eyes,” “ready smile,” and the simple joy he found in a good decapitation. However, I’m just wondering under what definition Jesse Helms deserves to be anybody’s hero.

For those who have not, for whatever reason (living a life for example), been following Jesse Helms’ career as closely as I, let me recap:

Jesse began his career as the host of a talk radio show. But not an NPR-style show where he discussed “The History of Angora, and other Sweater Material.” No, Jesse’s show pretty much stuck to one topic, “Niggras” (one must admire a clear focus). Back in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s, when blacks couldn’t vote, or even drink at the same water fountain as whites in North Carolina, Jesse had the foresight to see that they were “Taking Over.” And he was right. They may have been disenfranchised, and thirsty, (not to mention tired from not being allowed to ride the buses or sleep in the hotels), but they were uppity, and they had to be stopped.

Jesse would talk about how up north, Niggras could marry white women. He wondered how you would like it if your daughter married “some ape.” Jesse apparently resented apes in a way he did not resent other animals. He seemed to have no fear of your daughter marrying a bucktoothed, red-necked trailer hyena. When the Supreme Court said blacks could go to school with whites, Jesse said that this could be the end of education in North Carolina, which would have had the same drastic impact as the end of Boar Riding at Buckingham Palace.

In 1950, Jesse successfully worked for the election to Congress of an overt racist and served as his Chief of Staff and “Head Liaison on Niggra Affairs.” When he was elected to the Senate himself in 1972, he decided that he had grown since the days where he obsessively hated Niggras. He was now big enough to hate homos too. He spent hours on the floor describing homosexual sex with a profound look of distaste on his face. Although I must admit, hearing Jesse Helms talk about “filthy schodomites schtickin who knowsh what up who knowsh where” turned me off to sex too.

Jesse opposed funding the Ryan White AIDS fund because Gay people who got AIDS deserved to die. He used to whistle “Dixie” when he got on an elevator with black Senator Carol Mosely-Brawn (Really, I’m not making this up!). He opposed the Martin Luther King Holiday and he opposed every piece of civil rights legislation voted on while he was in office. The Senate never actually considered the “How’s ’bout We Don’t Kill Negroes for Just One Day” act. But if they had, he would have opposed it as “Schoft headed and Communischt.”

So as our buddy Jesse rides off into the sunset, I suppose we can wish that he not be run over by a Freight Train, or at least that he not be run over twice. Twice would be overkill. And we can wish that he and his lovely Caucasian wife “Dot” have many happy years of …”schtickin who knows what up who knowschs where” (it’s OK when heterosexuals do it). But lets not call him a “Hero.” That’s a title we should reserve for people who aren’t the embodiment of evil.

Tomorrow: How to get on Ogden’s “Filmore Freaks” website.