Alas. The recent report that the embalmed remains of Vladimir Lenin would be auctioned off turned out to be a hoax.
The thought of acquiring a historic mummy may seem strange, but after all, this is the age of recycling, and Lenin's body must have its uses. Maybe not 101 -- indicating that a dead communist leader is not as useful as a dead cat -- but here are 10 sure-fire ones.
(1) Scarecrow. Put Lenin on the left side of your cornfield, and watch the scraggly birds on the right go nuts.
(2) Colts quarterback. OK, maybe his mobility is gone, but the old guy has the stamina to play the whole 60 minutes. How much worse could the team's record get? And the bottom line for Bob Irsay would be that aside from the purchase price, there would be no cost -- in perpetuity. Lenin can play into the 22nd century. The man hasn't aged a day in 65 years.
(3) Photo-op prop. If you've been to Washington, you've seen the cardboard cutouts of Bush, Gorbachev and other luminaries with which you can pose for pictures. With the 3-D Lenin, photos could be taken from any angle. Could be a great hit with tourists in Moscow.
(4) Place-holder in lines. Russia is famous for the long lines that form to buy any desirable goods. The lucky owner of Lenin could place him in line, go about his business and come back in a few hours to get back in line. Even in the era of glasnost, who's going to butt in front of the scowling Founder of the Soviet State?
(5) Pinch-driver. In high-tech America, of course, we don't stand in lines in front of bakeries; we sit in idling cars in traffic jams. If a Baltimorean was the mummy's purchaser, he could put Lenin behind the wheel during JFX traffic jams and get out, go have dinner, do a little shopping . . .
(6) "Firing Line" guest. Since Christopher Buckley was responsible for perpetrating the hoax in Forbes FYI, it's only fair that his family profit. Lenin would make the perfect guest on dad Bill's show; he has intellectual stature, he wouldn't interrupt while Buckley pontificates and his moribund nature is in keeping with the show's pace.
(7) The Reagan-Lenin tour. Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy cashed in on culture clash by sitting on a stage and trading insults. Lenin, the Arch-Commie, and Ronald Reagan, the Arch-Anti-Commie, could use the same concept -- and on a worldwide scale. Some might argue that a war of wits between the befuddled and forgetful ex-pres and a corpse would be unequal. However, an autopsy in 1924 revealed that Lenin's brain had calcified, turning it into a sort of low-density rock. I rate it an even match.
(8) Bush economic adviser. George can deflect liberal criticism by putting a genuine leftist in his Cabinet. Pressed by reporters on his economic initiatives, he can say, "Can't rush in. Wouldn't ,, be prudent. Getting the facts, and then we'll present a comprehensive package as soon as my top adviser draws it up." And administration policy wouldn't have to change at all.
(9) Democratic vice-presidential nominee. A presidential candidate often will pick a running mate who protects the flanks, as the "kinder and gentler" Mr. Bush did in choosing right-wing dunderkind Dan Quayle, and as the card-carrying liberal Michael Dukakis did in taking centrist Lloyd Bentsen. This time around, a Democrat can stake out the centrist position and pick Lenin to please the left. After all, he's got experience, he won't commit any gaffes and, while he didn't serve in Vietnam, he didn't hide in the National Guard, either. And he'll energize radicals, particularly members of the Old Left of the '30s, who have deserted the party in large numbers for quixotic fringe candidates or stopped voting altogether because they are disillusioned or, increasingly (like the candidate), dead.
(10) Designated nominee. Senate confirmation hearings have become a colossal waste of time, with high-paid executive and judicial brains wasting days trekking to Capitol Hill to sit and evade or ignore questions, and then be confirmed anyway. Let Lenin do it; the result will be the same.
Sen. Bluster: "Now, Mr. Lenin, do you recall having a discussion 16 years ago with your optometrist about the Roe vs. Wade decision?"
Sen. Bluster: "I'll interpret your silence as an 'I don't recall.' Now, do you remember . . ."
Bruce Guthrie is a copy editor for The Sun.