You already know about the Times' "Win a Trip With Nick Kristof" contest. On Slate today, Michael Kinsley wonders why things should stop there, and he considers similar contests with other Times op-edsters. Fist, he cites Nick's pitch:
"I'm looking for a masochist. If your dream trip doesn't involve a five-star hotel in Rome or Bora-Bora, but a bedbug-infested mattress in a malarial jungle as hungry jackals yelp outside—then read on." He adds, "Don't expect comfort so much as diarrhea." How on earth did Kristof know about my bedbugs-and-jackals-and-diarrhea fantasy? Bob Woodward promised me he wouldn't tell anyone else.
Then he imagines the come-on for "Win a Trip With Tom Friedman":
"The world, as you know, is flat. If you're not afraid to fall off the edge, if you dream of running up travel expenses that would finance Hannibal's army, if you fantasize about meeting presidents and prime ministers and reminding them that the world is flat, if you can go to Davos and Aspen and Bilderberg and still get it up for the Bohemian Grove, then you may be the right person to accompany me on a unique 'World Is Flat World Tour.' We will be staying in the best hotels and interviewing world leaders day and night. You may find yourself discoursing in Arabic about the flatness of the world with a group of Saudi princes, or even asking the Pope himself, 'Do you agree with Tom Friedman that the world is flat?' All it takes to apply is a 700-word essay on 'Why the World is Flat.'" Tom himself will choose the winner, and they'll immediately be off to St. Petersburg, where you will get to operate the PowerPoint for Tom's presentation titled: "Flatter Will Get You Nowhere: The Limits of World Flatness."
Like, "Win a Trip With Maureen Dowd":
"Are you girl enough to come shopping with me and my best friend, Jill? Can you dis the defense department and find the shoe department at the same time?"
And some Washington Post equivalents, like "Win a Trip With George Will" ("Finally admitting his uncanny resemblance to Mr. Peabody, the scholarly time-traveling dog on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show, George takes a lucky companion back to the 18th century, where they will explain the original meaning of the Declaration of Independence to its signers" and "Win a Trip With David Broder" ("You'll interview more lieutenant governors than there are stars on the flag").
But we know which contest we most want to enter: "Win a Trip With Michael Kinsley." That's where you sit at home and make toss off bon mots and witticisms about stuff in the news.
Wonder what that would be like?