Opinion: But <em>WAIT!!</em> There’s (no) more! Billy Mays dead (Or Billy Maze)

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OK, here’s the connection. Politicians sell stuff. So did Billy Mays. Like it or lump it.

Regular Ticket readers will already know we love Billy Mays. (And not just because he was a reader.) He died today. Almost 51. Only the latest of numerous recent celebrities to depart -- Ed McMahon, Farrah, MJ, Natasha Richardson, who felt fine after bumping her head skiing. No doubt others. (And we’ve got a special Billy video tribute below too.)

Billy had a really rough landing on a commercial flight back home to Tampa yesterday. He said he felt fine after being hit on the head by something falling. Then, wasn’t feeling well last night. No one knows yet what happened to one of the world’s most famous, most successful pitchmen, straight out of the original Atlantic City Boardwalk School of Salesmanship.


Billy was the American insomniac’s best friend. Always there late at night or early in the morning. Always happy to see you. Giving you that old thumbs-up sign of Mays approval. Always selling something terrifically wonderful, so much so that even folks with graduate degrees found themselves grabbing their credit card and reaching for the phone to beat that phony ‘Next 10 minutes’ deadline.

In fact, he didn’t put insomniacs to sleep. How could anyone sleep around Billy’s obviously genuine enthusiasm and energy? He just kept us -- that is, our friends -- company while we -- they -- worked through the long night or waited for dawn to arrive.

He was no doubt sound asleep himself somewhere else. But through the magic of video Billy was right there in our living rooms showing us a mop that could not only clean all pet hairs off the floor but probably off the dog too.

Here’s the deal: Billy was real. He would only sell products that passed his test, that worked and that he himself used at home. He even handed out samples to guests.

You don’t see that much elsewhere in American society today, especially in politicians. For instance, if Billy was, say, president and trying to sell us all on a massive national public education reform program costing billions of dollars, you just know he’d have his kids in those very same public schools, not off safely in some fancy private place.

If Billy set his mind to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, he was so good at selling that he’d have towns clamoring to take not just one, not just two, but three suspected terrorists for local incarceration. Count on it.


And his Oval Office desk wouldn’t be all bare, shiny and sterile for bill signings. It’d be covered with his favorite programs/products to get them some TV time.

But there’s more to Billy: You really believed him. If he’d been in politics, he could sell fiscal responsibility to a Democrat. He’d have those stubborn deficit stains outta there in just five minutes or less. Five!

Get Billy selling cars and you don’t need the government to own GM. If he’d been one of the country’s 1,417 surviving Republicans today -- well, he’d have to lose the black beard first -- but if he’d been a Republican, he could -- what? -- well, maybe sell party members on stopping the internal knife fights.

Anyway, another special thing about Billy Mays that is also rare among today’s U.S. politicians: He could genuinely make fun of himself. Not with some obviously made-up line about his kid taking him down a notch. Har-har-har.

But by joking about his own distinctive gung-ho style. Pointing the finger directly at himself, not someone else pointing at him. Real genuine self-deprecation, which they must not teach in Campaign School anymore.

That’s why, as a special bonus for Ticket readers today ONLY, we’re adding this wonderful video below. The real Billy Mays mocking the real Billy Mays, captured on tape ordering at a McDonald’s drive-thru in his very own inimitable late-night TV style. No extra charge.


And may God bless our Billy up on the Ultimate Boardwalk.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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