Shock: WaPo's Shales says Half-Hour News Hour "isn't terrible"

T-minus eight hours ’til launch. Is Santa about to come down the chimney? Incredibly, impossibly, Tom Shales says … yes:

On comes the artificial news. Hillary Rodham Clinton has pledged wide-ranging variety in her version of a Clinton administration, it’s reported; she vows to appoint “a diverse group . . . of angry lesbians.” An overlong segment on politically correct children’s books includes such titles as “Harry Potter and the Alternate Lifestyle” and, for the developmentally challenged, “The Little Engine That Couldn’t Quite.

“There’s a running gag about environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. attempting to get to the studio in a car that runs on, among other things, poopy, and mock commercials trashing the American Civil Liberties Union — “protecting criminals from people like you since 1920.” Here, though, the desire to deliver partisan swift kicks tends to override any impulse to amuse.

On the other hand, a segment in which a “game-show host and climatologist” attempts to link all public events, including Britney Spears’s lack of underwear, to global warming has its chucklesome side, as does a plea from “Girl No. 13 on ‘Deal or No Deal’ ” to drum up more causes for Hollywood celebrities to support, because the supply is running low. The inevitable Barack Obama jokes include the observation that a minor scandal caused his popularity among Democrats to plummet “to an all-time low of 99.9 percent.”…

[T]hose on the left anticipating, and probably hoping for, some kind of ghastly disaster will be disappointed — and may even feel like joining in the (apparently canned) laughter more times than they’d expect. In a nutshell: It isn’t terrible.

Having seen the Barack Obama clip, I’m more than a little concerned that he’s putting it in the paragraph with the “good” material. But who knows? Glenn Garvin, the Miami Herald:

If none of this quite rises to the level of Jon Stewart’s intellectual hopscotch or Amy Poehler’s inspired lunacy, it’s nonetheless agreeably funny. Producers Joel Surnow and Manny Coto (who also produce Fox’s 24) keep the pace light and quick, and Long and Robertson hit just the right touch of slick, unctuous vacuity.

I don’t know, I just can’t believe it’s going to be good. Watching this was like finding meat with mad cow disease in it. You know it couldn’t have come from a healthy animal; the only question is, how sick is that animal going to turn out to be?

I’ll have a montage of highlights and lowlights after the show. If the foregoing isn’t enough to get you to watch, here’s Rush Limbaugh from last week hinting that it’s your conservative duty. Exit question: If the show reeks and “proves” that conservatives can’t be funny, isn’t it out duty not to watch?

Update: Lorien asks a good question in the comments. Shales and Garvin might be grading on a steep, steep curve here, so foreign to them is the concept of “conservative humor.” To them, it might be like a chimp trying to say “cheeseburger.” If he manages an “eeeeee,” good job!