December 1, 2023


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

In the face of a bloody war that shows little sign of ending, maybe — just maybe — Vladimir Putin will accept Elon Musk’s invitation for a fight.

It’s a sign of the world we live in that the world’s richest man offering to punch out the lights of the Russian president was met with more of a collective shrug than a WTF?

“I hereby challenge Vladimir Putin to single combat,” Musk tweeted. “Stakes are Ukraine.” In another tweet, he tagged Putin’s official Twitter account and wrote: “Do you agree to this fight?”

So far, there’s been no response from the Kremlin but I believe I can speak for all of us when I say I’d like to see that fight broadcast on live TV (although of course RT would announce Putin as the winner no matter the result).

Instances of politicians and celebrities actually fighting are, of course, rare. The actor Matthew Perry, of “Friends” fame, did once admit on a TV talk show that he beat up Justin Trudeau, who would go on to become prime minister of Canada, when they were at school together. After the show, Trudeau challenged Perry to a rematch, which has sadly yet to take place. Perhaps it could be the warm-up for the Musk-Putin bout.

It’s much more common, of course, for politicians to beat each other up.

Readers of (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!) our new France Election Playbook will know that there was an actual duel in France between Gaullist MP René Ribière and the mayor of Marseille, Socialist MP Gaston Defferre, in 1967. Yes you read that date correctly — in the same year that the handheld calculator was invented and The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the French were still dueling with swords!

Thank goodness that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore. No, wait, it does! In December last year, two Brazilian politicians had an actual UFC-style cage fight to settle their differences after a spat over a waterpark. The fight was even livestreamed!

“The mayor of Borba was almost unable to walk because of the number of low kicks he received from his adversary,” reported local media BNC Amazonas.

While in no way promoting the use of violence, surely the European Parliament should at least consider having cage fights to resolve disputes following the publication of own-initiative reports. They could be shown live on EBS. Imagine the publicity!


“Embarrassment all round as Vladimir Putin makes a surprise appearance at American rally.”

Can you do better? Email or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“You screwed up badly on Ukraine back in 2008. But don’t worry, you’ll serve time for some other stuff,” by Albrecht Rothacher.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s Slot News Editor.


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