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One Reason Why This Is Still a Great Country (South Park 12th Season Semi-Premiere Edition)

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Yes, that's a Howard the Duck pinball machine.

Sure, things may be going down the crapper in any number of ways: The stock market is tanking faster than the Cubs in post-season play; George W. Bush is still president at least until January; McCain and Obama are very special bums each in their own way; and much, much more.

But as long as there's South Park, there's hope. Or at least incredibly bizarre laughs. Earlier this week, SP returned with new episodes as part of its 12th season. The opener this time included a truly mad plotline in which the most recent Indiana Jones movie was filled with scenes in which creators George Lucas and Steven Speilberg repeatedly rape Harrison Ford, causing post-traumatic stress disorder among South Park's denizens.

Is this "beyond offensive and into some sort of hyper-offensive stratosphere," as some critics have claimed? And that's not even taking into consideration the episode's other plot, which involves Eric Cartman's xenophobic reaction to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

Decide for yourself by watching the full episode online right now (go on, it's Friday and this isn't Putin's Russia).

And don't forget to read the 2006 reason interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker. A snippet:

Matt Stone: I had Birkenstocks in high school. I was that guy. And I was sure that those people on the other side of the political spectrum were trying to control my life. And then I went to Boulder and got rid of my Birkenstocks immediately, because everyone else had them and I realized that these people over here want to control my life too. I guess that defines my political philosophy. If anybody's telling me what I should do, then you've got to really convince me that it's worth doing.

More here.