Something terrible and weird is happening here in Buchanan 1910. It is a gorgeous Wednesday evening, yet the lecture hall is actually filled with warm bodies, and they are all actually paying attention to the guy beyond the podium as he doles out his drivel.

There are plenty of better, more productive things to do on such a fine evening than attend this lame lecture: NHL playoffs, barbecues, mid-week keggers. Yet everyone here is enraptured, possibly comatose. The collective attention span of this oldish, whitish, Republican audience dwarfs the summed attention span of the last 30 screenings of “Citizen Kane” by the Film Studies Dept.

If this is the kind of attendance fiery rhetoric can bring a lecturer, I wish every professor I had was a raving Maoist or some neo-Nazi convinced the holocaust didn’t happen. At least it would be interesting, and I would probably attend more lectures.

I take in David Horowitz in all his trollish elegance as he squats behind the podium ranting about how all my professors are crooked leftists. He looks like my mental picture of Elseworth Toohey from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and I ask myself, “Would I pay thousands of dollars to bring this man to speak on behalf of my organization?”

The College Republicans did. Horowitz fetched a second-class fee far lower than Oliver North or Ward Connerly. That makes sense because Horowitz is a second class media circus act, a travelling wannabe P.T. Barnum who promises a mild media circus and his own freak show of paranoid ideas and bitter snarls.

Horowitz could’ve asked for a heftier sum if he had helped betray America like Oliver North, or was the asshole du jour like Ward, but he’s not. He’s just an aging journalist who writes lousy books aimed toward ultra-right wing conservatives desperate for a modicum of respect for American history and ideology. He says he became a right-winger after the Black Panthers shot his friend, but I suspect having to raise four children had a lot more to deal with it. Being a crazy right-wing loudmouth means instant publicity in a politically correct world. And it pays better.

By virtue of the packed room I give Horowitz a little credit, though. Slave reparations is a really dumb idea. If we as a country owe anybody money, it’s the Native American blackjack dealer who works at the Chumash Casino. We owe the Indians big time, and I would support legislation that allows Indian gambling casinos to never let the white man win.

That said, Horowitz piggy-backed off the stupid reparations idea and won the cholesterol-hardened hearts of every old-timer who didn’t watch his friends get blown up in Iwo Jima so some black boy could buy more crack with free slave money. It is now the fourth time in 20 minutes Horowitz is mentioning the dumbness of reparations and he’s tolling the sentiment of the old and embittered like a massive gong.

Reparations are a shakedown! [GONG!] Campuses are too liberal! [GONG!] The environmentalists won’t let this room be air-conditioned and they suck! [GONG!] Socialism means being ruled by the cast of Jerry Springer! [GONG!]

Horowitz is a shuckster and a jiver and it has taken him five decades to find a song and dance that pays well.

“Thank you leftists. I’m now out of the conservative ghetto,” Horowitz says, “I’m in demand now.” Horowitz goes on to say conservative students are laughed out of the class when they speak up, but a quick consultation with peers confirms my own opinion that he’s full of shit. No one ever speaks up in class for any reason unless it’s to answer that oh-so-obvious question about a text, or unless he’s that one requisite Christian who refuses evolution on the grounds of Satanism.

Student: But the Bible says! [insert one of the myriad of Biblical fallacies]

Professor: The Bible says shut up, sit down and be quiet. Does this look like a church? No? Okay then, about fossils …

True, some students claim to have had Marxist, feminazi professors capable of castration by stare. But I have never encountered the famed feminazi, and students who have are fairly anti- “whatever Marxist bullshit” the mythical feminazi was spewing.

My general conception of the student body is that we aren’t innocent little kids being indoctrinated by leftist professors hell-bent on socialism. Maybe it’s because we’re mostly white or maybe because all we know is the bloody, ruined socialism abroad in the ’80s, but most students here are interested in the dollar. We want cash. We want a fat, easy job and no income tax. We want two beemers, a wife with jubblies like Mt. Everest and a personal introduction to the owners of the world. We’ll start our own charity, thank you.

We awake in the morning, not fearing right-wing oppressors stealing the People’s capital, but pondering the means to afford that oh-so-essential, three-foot, hand-blown, glass Terminator bong from Hempwise. A comedian on TV captured the sentiment pretty well. “I’m fed up with the political process. I don’t give a fuck. I can’t be a Democrat because I like to spend the money I earn. And I can’t be a Republican because I like to spend the money I earn on hookers and drugs.”

And maybe that’s the moral at the bottom of this Horowitz nonsense. You start out young and leftist with a penchant for drugs, casual sex and pretty idealism. Then, as every generation has done, you grow older, do less drugs, have less sex and become more cynical due to the amount of mind-numbing, spirit crushing, alienated labor our economic system demands.

The Black Panthers didn’t kill Horowitz’s Marxism. What killed it was 40 hours a week, every week, until death, as a pathetic, ineffectual, leftist journalist. Electric bills, car payments, health insurance for six, a crippling mortgage – the mundane servility of the modern free world would’ve broken even Lenin.

Come to think of it, I think I’m starting to hang a little right.

Senior David Downs once again has to prove his worth to the Financial Aid Office; they want to cut him. He struggles to avoid the real world every Wednesday, here on the Opinions page.