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Jan 21, 2022

Dr. Oz For The U.S. Senate—Or, The Happy Huckster Goes To Washington

The highly respected charlatan is running to rep Pennsylvania

By Ed Goldman

The news near the close of 2021 that Dr. Mehmet Oz would be running to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate was hardly a medical or political breakthrough. 

After all, as of the 2017-2019 session, there already were 16 physicians in both houses of Congress. “(A)ll were male and 14 were members of the Republican party,” according to the often-correct Wikipedia, which added, there were “also one podiatrist, one dentist, and one optometrist.” 

Edgy Cartoon

The Lizard Who’s Oz

And it’s not as though dropping Dr. Oz, the Happy Huckster, into this admixture of lifelong liars is going to muddy the waters. 

When I interviewed Oz in Sacramento some years ago, he’d only just begun his side hustle of fibbing about products hyped to help you lose weight, beat cancer, improve your memory, regain your virility (or hair) or clear up your complexion.

Okay, to be something Oz isn’t—honest—I may have overstated my list. According to the Huffington Post, “Oz deems absolutely essential for everyone to take: a multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium with magnesium.” On the other hand, he’s also got into some trouble by hawking:

  • Pure Green Coffee (“The magic weight loss cure for every body type,” he gushed);
  • Garcinia Cambogia (“a revolutionary fat buster,” he said on his show 10 years ago);
  • the Raspberry Ketone Diet (a “miracle fat burner in a bottle” he proclaimed the same year);
  • something called Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which sounds to me like a grammatically correct floor covering;
  • safflower oil (“a new supplement that will help you lose inches off your waist without diet and exercise,” says he);
  • hot pepper jelly (“a way to ignite your metabolism … without doing anything else. I’m not telling you to go running or jogging or weight lift or anything else”); and
  • red palm oil (“the miracle solution of 2013” which he said could even prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s).

That this over-educated mendicant is being taken seriously as a political candidate—just as the under-educated Donald Trump was, and is—may offer further evidence that (a) our country’s in critical condition and (b) its greatest threat may not be COVID nor all its spinoffs.

In short, the fault lies not in our media stars, but in ourselves, as Cassius almost said to Brutus in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

If Oz can be taken seriously as a candidate, who else from the personality pantheon might hit the hustings in the next couple of years? A very short list:

1. DR. PHIL. While Phillip Calvin McGraw earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, the not-always-wrong Wikipedia reports he stopped renewing his license 16 years ago after ethics charges were made against him “for having an inappropriate non-physical relationship with a patient in 1989… for practicing psychology without a professional license or certification … and also for violating doctor-patient confidentiality regarding Britney Spears.” To summarize, he’s a disgraced former shrink and would fit right in with the disgraced public officials who used to be the Republican Party.  

2. CHRIS CUOMO. Another celebrity whose job title can be preceded by the adjectives Former and Disgraced. Cuomo, who may be even more of a narcissistic on-camera preener  than his former “great friend” and “brother” Don Lemon, is handsome, opinionated, buff, rude and, unlike a number of male members of Congress, blessed with what appears to be his original head of hair. His journalistic ethics are a perfect match for his actual brother Andrew’s overall code of honor (which I believe is “Grab and Go!”). Maybe he should run for the New York governor’s seat from which Andy resigned heartbeats before his own party’s legislative majority was going to impeach him. If voters are wary of electing someone whose only ethics violations seem to be as a newsman, rest assured that lil’ brother Chris was also outed for groping a fellow employee, who wasn’t a fellow: “A veteran TV journalist said Friday that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo groped her in 2005 while they were both employees of Walt Disney Co. ‘s ABC News. … Cuomo said in a statement that the incident happened 16 years ago in a public setting,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Note that Chris’s explanation was that it occurred in the distant past and that he did it in front of lots of people. Ah, the old  “Slime in Plain Sight” defense. Put that man on the ballot!

Well, back to Dr. Oz. If he wins the seat, I’d like to propose a new motto for the state: “Pennsylvania. Founded by a Quaker. Represented by a quack.”

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).