On a personal note, like most Americans I spend more time in my car than I would like.

But tootling around town or commuting to the parish I would (out of my mortal weakness) tune in to the local talk radio station. There is something strangely seductive and almost hypnotic in listening to the never ending rants of Rush Limbaugh and others like him.

The blame of the other side, the suppressed theatrical rage, the simmering paranoia and scapegoating are intriguing and disturbing–like slowing down for a car wreck.

So when I have had enough talk about gun rights, the evils of the Democrats, the threat of immigrants, the corruption of the government and the stupidity of the mainstream media I switch over to National Public Radio.

Then I can’t decide which is worse. Do I want the wild eyed, furious rants of the right wingers or the phony, snobbish East Coast limousine leftists tones of the NPR crowd? Their soft, sophistication with their “deep concern” about this or that, their fashionable agendas, witty self congratulatory game shows, obscure classical music and cool jazz is somehow worse than the cigar chomping table thumping right wingers.

It’s like I have to choose between the high falutin’ or hoi polloi, gun totin’ flag wavers or swishy sophisticates, Starbucks or Waffle House.

So I’ve taken a radical step.

The car has a decent sound system so I’ve pulled out my Italian opera CDs and I listen to Pavarotti bellowing Puccini.

It’s a kind of lateral leap which is both high and low brow at the same time.

Yes, I know opera has a snooty feel in America, but at heart it’s as gutsy and down to earth as a bowl of pasta in a decent family eatery in Italy.

The tunes roll around in my head all day long.

They cheer my heart and lift my soul and make me want another vacation in Rome.