Car crash politics had the Ex-Factor

IT was like a car crash of game show formats at Leinster House yesterday.

Brian Cowen cut a very unsteady figure Dancing On Thin Ice while presenting a combination of X Factor (Ex-Minister — Sackedya!) and Fianna Fáil’s Got Talent? — the question mark hanging heavy in the air as the seven dwarfs were booted off the junior benches while two people you had never heard of got promoted to jobs you never knew existed.

But, of course, the only show any deputy was interested in was the one they created themselves: The TD’s Price Is Right!

Shiny suited, grinning and gormless, the hapless host Brian Lenihan shouted at the delighted deputies: “Come on down! Because your outrageous pensions and perks won’t be as I was making the whole budget speech up as I went along!”

It seems every day is a roll-over jackpot day in the Dáil as the dumb old taxpayers roll over once again and stump-up the Stupid Tax so our lawmakers can enjoy a lavish lifestyle

Back on the set of Expenses Thankya, Mr Cowen was doing a particularly grumpy impression of Simon Scowl as he booted off a surprise junior in what should become known as the slight of the short knives. So, bye, bye then Commerce Minister John McGuinness. Yes, he did admit Brian Cowen “made a bags” of the October budget and he did tell bemused Chinese journalists in Shanghai how happy he was “to be here in Singapore”, but Mr McGuinness was reasonably competent in his role. Perhaps that’s why they had to get rid of him — he was making his boss Mary Coughlan look even worse than normal.

The joke going around Leinster House was that the sacking explained the sudden rushing through of emergency legislation allowing sweeping covert surveillance of those deemed to be enemies of the State because the Taoiseach must know Mr McGuinness is not the type to let this go unpunished.

You had to feel a slight tinge of sorrow for the dumped deputies, even ones like Mary Wallace (who?) that took political invisibility and irrelevance to new depths because they were not just dispatched due to apparent incompetence, they were also deemed exotic pets the country could no longer afford.

The opposition largely sat the Fianna Fáil bloodletting out, with Richard Bruton managing a mildly amusing intervention about the 15 new juniors looking like ship mates on the Titanic — almost a life boat full he chuckled to himself.

Across town, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore had been unexpectedly caught in the middle of smears and excrement. No, he was not following in the filthy footsteps of his British counterpart Gordon Brown, but on the receiving end of a lame publicity stunt from one of his Euro candidates handing him freshly laid duck eggs.

“I know they are organic because they are suitable smeared with duck excrement,” he mused strangely.

Which brings us neatly back to the unpleasant stuff this Government has been flailing around in since the Apprentice took over from Boom Time Bertie one year ago. With the ministerial pensions fiasco being just the latest in a long line of booby prizes to be presented to an increasingly angry audience, voters are massing stage left to tell Mr Cowen: “You’re Fired!”

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