AMERICA IS ALL ABOUT TEAMWORK. That's why, as editor of the Portland Mercury, I find it particularly distressing that my writers are a bunch of self-centered commies who refuse to obey a direct order. Example: For this Fourth of July issue, I dedicated an entire feature to a series of essays on the topic of America's superiority to every other country. I feel it's important for the youth of today to have role models; to realize that the word "patriot" isn't just a movie starring that Aussie scum, Mel Gibson. I saw this feature as an opportunity to champion the might and right of America, a chance to say, "Hey thanks, you old red, white, and blue!" and tip our hats to the country and principles we hold so dear.

Then my writers stabbed me in the fucking back.

On deadline day, did they send me essays paying tribute to "Old Glory" and thanking the Almighty for being suckled on the mightiest teat in the free world? Did they care that our patriotic designer had already chosen a number of art pieces to illustrate our "All-Star Salute to America?" NO. Instead, they spit in the face of our forefathers, as well as the trillions and millions who have laid down their sacred lives for the freedom and asthma medication these writers so callously take for granted. Flippantly ignoring my direct order, these writers refused to pen a glowing review of the democratic process, and chose instead to toot the horn of countries that are clearly our inferiors!

Oh, sureI could have fired them, but then I'd be left begging for writers from the only paper in town that gives us any real competition: The Auto/Truck Trader. So I'm going to let the goddam babies have their constitutionally-required "freedom of speech" because America is all about tolerance--even when it means tolerating long-haired art-school graduates who smoke weed, rarely bathe, and wipe their dirty, filthy asses on our precious flag.

However! That doesn't mean I can't loudly bray the praises of the greatest country in the universe: AMERICA!! For, even though there may be an overabundance of commie anarchist nay-sayers, America still brims with good, hardworking citizens who vote, attend the churches of their choice, and celebrate the Fourth with six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon, wet T-shirt contests and fireworks purchased from injun reservations.

You may ask: What does "America" mean to me? America, the proud! America, the brave! America, the free! Yes, I love you, you grand old country! I adore everything, from your funny car dragstrips where women wear too much makeup and stretchy tube-tops, to our state fairs where eager, wide-eyed children stare in disbelief as a donkey high-dives into a shallow pool.

I love America because we stand tall, nipples erect, and bark a loud, annoying laugh. When another country disses us, we get mad, and brother, we stay mad, until we hear Britney Spears has a new album, and suddenly we can't remember exactly what we were mad about, or even who the offending country was, so we automatically blame the French.

Some claim our country has done some pretty nasty things. Well, I say there's plenty of nasty things we could've done, and didn't! Take, for example, the May Day riot: did we ship those stinking hippies off to relocation camps? Heck no! Because it would raise taxes, and Americans hate taxes even more than they hate French people.

So I salute you, red, white, and blue! I salute your fields of wheat and K-Marts, too! And on this Fourth of July, as I sear the flesh of pigs on my grill, and sip beers from cans strategically placed on a hard hat, I'll think of all the writers I didn't invite to my celebration, and snort with disgust. I only require one guest at my annual barbecues--and that's Lady Liberty. "Don't listen to those ingrate assholes, sweetie," I'll whisper softly in her ear. "You're looking fine to me."