5 Things That Make Me Proud To Be An American This Decade

Every week I pick five things that made me proud to live in the good old U. S. of A. For this special New Year’s Day edition, I used the whole past decade as fodder for my patriotic whimsy. Read on.

Pontiac Aztek

Ask ten Americans who invented the car and at least nine of them will give you the same answer: Henry Ford. That’s a pretty good answer, despite the fact that, you know, it’s wrong.

America didn’t invent the automobile, but what we did was take it, make it our own, rebuild it in our own image, put some big-assed fins on it, and drive it all the way to Crazytown. Nothing is as emblematic of America as the automobile. It is the image of ourselves that we project out into the world. Most of the time that image is something like this. Other times? Not so much.

As far as I was concerned, Pontiac was never cool, but I could always appreciate that a long time ago it was kind of cool. For like 15 minutes. Then came the suck. Over forty years of it.

Look at this. Look at it and then think about the fact that that it took a team of hundreds of people years to come up with it. People with Master’s degrees. Maybe even a PhD or two. And this was the best they could come up with.

It looks like one of those Chinese cars where it looks like someone welded a BMW front end onto the body of a Lexus and then stuck a Mercedes rear end on it. That’s always funny because that’s exactly what they do over there and then people buy it. But this isn’t China. This is America.

And this is why Pontiac had to die. Thank God.

Patriots 18-1 Season

I like rooting for history. I enjoy watching a significant sporting event unfold and thinking “oh man this is history and it will be awesome to remember watching this 15 years from now.”

Fifteen-overtime games are like that. Lance winning twelve Tour de Frances was like that. Tyson in his prime. Tiger. MJ. And so on.

You can’t root against history. Well I guess you can, but then you end up playing the part of the redneck football coach or the racist fans who won’t let Ernie Davis or Pistol Pete or West Texas A&M or that all-black swim team compete in the big game or match or whatever.

When New England was 18-0 and in the Super Bowl half of America was excited because they were watching history unfold. The other half was excited because they were rooting for the Giants to spit on history, kick it in the dick, and take its lunch money.

Again, I root for history. But I know to never bet on the side you root for. When Plaxico caught that last-minute TD I went bananas not because I give a crap about the either New England Patriots or the New York Giants.

I gave a crap about the several hundred dollars that I had on the game because I every online bookmaker had excellent odds on the Giants winning outright. And covering the spread. And I had the over. I mean, you know, hypothetically speaking.

Because gambling is illegal, you see.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush was president for eight of the last ten years. That’s exactly eighty percent, which officially qualifies the past decade to be historically referred to as an “Age”. Other prominent “Ages” in American history:

  • The Gilded Age (1869-1877): Ulysses S. Grant drank himself blind and spent thousands of dollars on imported candelabras. In lieu of a Presidential Library Grant builds a gold-plated railroad car and spends his last years riding around the country in it.
  • The Hermitage (1829-1837): Andrew Jackson fought 127 duels, took another man’s wife as his own, and fought a ghost. Built the Hermitage outside Nashville to serve as a school for future politicians to learn the finer points of early American politics: dueling with sabres, dueling with polearms, dueling with rifles, dueling with cannons, and dueling with your fists.
  • The Great Age of Everyone Being Broke (1933-1945): Franklin Roosevelt was crippled, stuck in a loveless marriage, and needed a stiff drink. Staged the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to justify attacking the Germans so that everyone could drink beer again.

What will future historians refer to the past ten years as? The Dubyage? The Bubbling? Bush Descending a Staircase? No one knows.

The only thing that matters is that we, America, stared eight years of Bush right in the eyes, and lived to tell the tale. It’s like at the zoo when they tell you not to make eye contact with the gorillas. You do it anyways, even though you know better.

Dick Cheney Packing Heat

When Dick Cheney shot that dude in the face it was hilarious. And awesome, but mostly hilarious.

The fallout, I guess, wasn’t so much hilarious as it was, ah, obvious. I mean yeah I get it you made a YouTube video about how Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face. Oh look, animated GIFs! That was fun.

It’s just disappointing because when something as surreal as the Vice President of the United States of America shooting a guy in the face happens we can’t just enjoy it. Everyone has to chime in and add their “take” and eventually – but not really eventually because it happens so fast – it’s not funny anymore and we get bored and everyone moves on with their lives.

We should be able to enjoy the absurd au naturale. We should just be able to sit back and just soak in the fact that our Vice President enjoys hunting. Even if what he’s hunting just so happens to be the most dangerous game of all.


A phone booth crashes in your front yard and George Carlin steps out. He invites you to go visit yourself in 1985. You do this, and when you get there the 1985 version of yourself asks “So…what’s the future like?”

You say, “The future is awesome.”

“Do we have flying cars?”

“No, but we have something even better.”

“What could be better than a flying car?”


The 1985 you looks at you – which is actually himself – and says, “I don’t know what that is.”


You both then get into the phone booth with George Carlin and come back to 2009. You pull out your iPhone or netbook or laptop and say “Pick anything in history you’d like to see.. Past, present, future. Make-believe, science fiction, whatever. Anything. You name it.”

The 1985 version of yourself thinks about it for a minute and says “I have two things that would be pretty rad: a black President. And then I want to see the Cubs win the World Series.”

You smile and nod and show him this:

1985 you watches this and after he scrapes his jaw off the floor he turns and looks at you. “Okay…how about the Cubs?”

You say “They were five outs from the World Series with this happened”:

Everyone has a good laugh and gets back in the phone booth.

Check out our Proud To Be An American archive.

1251465204_aaron-b-murray.jpgAaron B. Murray has a wall-sized aquarium filled with Cristal and reef sharks. He feeds them daily and recycles the Cristal twice a month. Follow him on Twitter at murray_cod
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