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Posted at 9:05 AM ET, 12/29/2009

2009: From Tiger to terrorist, the Year of the Overexposed Underpants

By Michael Cavna

Only a few things are so professionally compelling that they will induce a cartoonist to cut short a vacation. One is a once-in-a-lifetime news event. Second is a call from the Pulitzer committee. And a third, I submit, is underpants.

Newspaper cartoonists who are on holiday right now -- still recovering from all that spiked eggnog, and still looking forward to all that New Year's Eve joy juice -- face a dilemma. As a general practice, political cartoonists who wish to keep their staff jobs do not joke, josh or make light of terrorism. Except, of course, when: (a) the terror attempt is heroically foiled or goes awry in a flurry of inepititude; (b) blame can also be laid at the steel door of Homeland Security; and (c) the media soon dub the would-be attacker the Underpants Bomber.

Having myself just survived a cross-country flight on which very few underpants were exposed -- save for one diaper and one particularly ill-advised thong -- I raise a matter that that many of all have surely contemplated: Isn't getting through airport security checkpoints a lengthy enough process now? How much more so if -- should our undergarments raise the remotest of suspicion -- we are sequestered by electric-wand-waving security workers, so as to inspect our skivvies, girdles and Spanx?

Some cartoonists, like hounds on a satiric hunt, are beginning to sniff out the possibilities here. The Underpants Bomber -- and the concomitant international terror issues his attempt raises -- is a dire and serious concern. But the speculative upshot involving would-be new security steps -- well, that is fair game for comical darts.

We grow tired of Tiger jokes. The Salahi gags have wearied a wee bit. But laughter at the expense of a Nigerian "Captain Underpants" -- or yet even closer to home, at the expense of ourselves and our security measures -- might just carry us into the new year.

So come on, cartoonists: Take your best shot. "Fruit of the Looming Terror Gaffe"? "Is that a rocket in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" Or perhaps even: "Victoria's REAL Secret"?

We await many cartoonists' imminent return from vacation, perhaps even a few days early, Because professional humorists realize that from Mark Sanford to David Letterman to Tiger Woods, 2009 was a year we were way too overexposed to the shenanigans within other people's underpants. And for a satirical sendoff to the year, the Nigerian Barney Fife proves, irresistibly, to be the perfect capper.

heller1229.jpg JOE HELLER / Green Bay Press-Gazette (

By Michael Cavna  | December 29, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  | Tags:  Underpants Bomber  
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I have to admit I didn't see this one coming. Actually I expected the next attempt would be to smuggle something inside a passenger's big hairdo. Then, in response to the Hair Bomber, everyone would have to "comb out" before boarding.

Could still happen. TSA should get ahead of this one while they can.

Posted by: DontMindMe | December 29, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

"... The Salahi gags have wearied a wee bit. But laughter at the expense of a Nigerian "Captain Underpants" ..."

Alas, like the Nigerian scammers, the Salahis will be with us in 2010.

When can we see the mugshots of these two outstanding Commonwealth of Virginia citizens? Seems to me the only thing we have in this case is evidence! The circumcises of the defendants indicate a deep motivation to win a spot on GE's/NBC's/Bravo's/Half Yard Production's: 'Missy Does DC, with a cameo appearance of Tareq doing his kind of do-si-do. What are the authorities waiting for? So what, Lawyers that have not been paid are always saying that people are innocent. Has one single website filed in this case by the defendants been truthful? Just for the health of it, I would love to see the Washington Post release the results of his and hers lie detector test (ya know, sometimes, I crack myself up). Any delay would give an opportunity for somebody to clean up. Please oblige them, ASAP. Hells Bells, for whatshername crying out loud, yes, of course, please give them a plea bottom basement bargain deal offer ... Tarek can take up space in Michael Vicks former cell block and whatshername can occupy Martha's for the entire length of their showcase state house vacation. kbaime

Posted by: Loviedarling | December 30, 2009 4:23 AM | Report abuse

This is no joke. The full-body scanners that are now being tested, and soon to be used in the Netherlands are the digital equivalent of disrobing. However, improved scanning methods in the USA or Europe are completely irrelevant unless the entire plane is emptied and checked, because explosive materials may be brought aboard the aircraft in advance at airports where these standards are not applied.

Posted by: kilby | December 30, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

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