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Each week, the Comics Curmudgeon helps explain Today's Cartoons.

People! Is it possible that you have the wrong idea about your Comics Curmudgeon -- and about political cartoonists? Do you believe that we are coal-hearted bastards who never feel a moment of tenderness or joy? Do you believe that we are immune to the charms of a frolicking child, or a baby panda? Well, that's just not so! Sometimes political cartoonists take a break from drawing Rudy Giuliani's razor-sharp incisors or adding loving detail to the liver spots on Fred Thompson's head to draw something that's truly just plain adorable. Not often but, you know, sometimes. And this week, we pay tribute to their bravery in showing their softer side.

071214-1.jpgAwww, look at that! It's a big, pudgy, adorable hippo!

Isn't that precious? Yes, it is! I know we shouldn't have let him get so chubby -- it's probably not good for him -- but look at those rolls of neck fat! Those cute stumpy legs! Those nostrils! You just want to hug him, if only you could possibly begin to get your arms around him.

Slightly less adorable aspects: Did you know that to mark their territory, hippos spin their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area? Also, they are extremely aggressive towards humans, but if you feed them enough money, they get lazy and just sort of lean on you.

071214-2.jpgAwww, look at that! It's Bill Clinton in a cute li'l old-timey admiral's uniform!

Isn't that precious? Yes, it is! Some have suggested that Hillary should give Bill a high-profile job in her administration, like ambassador to the U.N., but didn't our 42nd president work hard enough for eight years? He's earned the right to spend the next eight in the sort of creative play that experts say is so important to a child's development -- and the White House's extensive collection of costumes can only help! I know Bill has the sense of fun to act out as any number of whimsical characters -- an admiral on the high seas, an Indian chief, or a sweaty, unshaven Richard Nixon. Sure, he might crucify the Democratic donkey in the process, but it's all good fun!

Slightly less adorable aspects: Wait a minute -- H.M.S. Clinton? OH MY GOD THE CLINTONS ARE IN LEAGUE WITH THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND TO UNDO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION! Lyndon LaRouche was right!

071214-3.jpgAwww, look at that! Mom and dad have matching robes!

Isn't that precious? Yes, it is! I'll bet they got them as a Christmas present one year. Can't you just see them grinning and holding them up for everyone to see -- mom with her floral print, dad with a sensible check pattern -- telling everyone about how they were going to wear them over breakfast every morning to foster a real sense of family unity?

Slightly less adorable aspects: Even though you've got matching robes, you still have to make kind of an effort to not look like suicidal, no matter how early it is. Seriously, the two of you look like you've spent the whole night discussing your terminal cancer, or punching each other in the face. Junior is right to look horrified.

071214-4.jpgAwww, look at that! Uncle Sam has an Evel Knievel-style red-white-and-blue helmet!

Isn't that precious? Yes, it is! The helmet, the floppy leather gloves, and the jumpsuit exude an old-school charm -- old-school here being the mid-1960s, not the mid-nineteenth century. It's always adorable when old people -- and Uncle Sam is roughly 155 years old -- dress up like the new young hip kids of today, or when they try out radical, extreme pastimes favored by youth, such as skydiving or bank bailouts.

Slightly less adorable aspects: Uncle Sam will not be as cute when he's smeared across half a mile of countryside.

071214-5.jpgAwww, look at that! Tickle torture! Tickle torture! George and Dick are having fun with tickle torture!

Isn't that precious? Yes, it is! You know, a lot of negative nellies are so down on all of our interrogation techniques. They just don't get how much good clean fun goes on in those unnamed third-world countries! Sure, it's serious business getting information about terrorist plots; but there's also a lot of giggles and pillow fights and indian burns and silly games as well! That's why Khalid Sheik Mohammed looked so bad in that famous picture; he wasn't being tortured, they had just rousted him in the middle of the night to get out of his sleeping bag and go on a "snipe hunt"! Hee hee!



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