It got to a point where even some of his greatest critics were crying for mercy.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel skewered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with ruthless precision on Monday night, eviscerating the troubled city leader and his history of drugs, alcoholic-fueled public appearances, his divisiveness and his manners.
Apparently assuming friendly banter, and an international stage to campaign for the next election, Ford seemed to be caught off guard when his much-celebrated turn in Hollywood focused on his history of odd behaviour and issues with alcohol. Not to mention the admitted instance with crack cocaine that made Toronto’s mayor an international reality television star.
“If you are an alcoholic, if you are drinking enough that you try crack in your 40s and you don't remember it, maybe that is something you might want to think about," Kimmel said at the end of an extensive interview with Ford.
The response was pure Ford. It was an insight into what Toronto has survived over the past four years. It combined Ford's ignorance, his insolence, his never-ending campaigning, his industry-crafted talking points and the dismissive nature with which Ford has treated the shame his actions have brought the city.
"I wasn't elected to be perfect," he said.
Because there is no middle ground.
It is an excuse he has used to excess in recent months. At this point, does he even know what those words mean?
The show began cordially enough. Kimmel introduced Ford as evidence that municipal politics wasn't boring, and Ford emerged with "Ford Nation" t-shirts in hand, throwing them into the audience like he was a cheerleader at a sporting event.
"Why are you dressed like a magician," Kimmel asked about Ford's black suit, black shirt and bright red tie/pocket square combination.
Ford’s appearance on late night television ran like a three-segment intervention, one Ford believed at first he could laugh away. It was not the cakewalk Ford expected. The show from the outset appeared destined to end in personal embarrassment. By the end, the mayor had resorted to spouting the same campaign literature he gives to reporters back home.
Kimmel ran through a list of indiscretions and accusations against the mayor. He responded, "Is that all you've got?"
Kimmel asked him directly if he was homophobic, a question he has occasionally avoided answering in Toronto. Ford responded, laughing, "No, I'm not homophobic. Are you?"
They discussed Ford's war against Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, they talked about his exercise routine and they even talked about the crack video that started it all.
At one point, Kimmel dabbed sweat off of Ford's brow. At another, he showed images of the food trays from Ford's dressing room – which had been emptied of desserts while the vegetables remained untouched. He showed the infamous video of Ford walking head-first into a video camera.
"Why are you here? What good could come of this? Have you ever seen this show?" Kimmel asked.
Eventually, Ford was positioned next to a television screen as the greatest videos from his catalog of shame were played in front of him.
The video where a ranting Ford threatens to murder someone. When Ford says he doesn't know who he was talking about in the video, Kimmel asked, "You have that many enemies you don't know which one this was?"
The Steak Queen video where a ranting Ford is shown speaking Jamaican patois. "I just went out with a few friends of mine," Ford said, beginning for the first time to appear sheepish.
The video where Ford falls down while playing football.
The video where he pantomimes another councillor drinking and driving.
The video of the mayor running over a fellow councillor.
The video of Ford dumping handfuls of candy canes onto children at a parade.
The video of Ford dancing at city hall.
When it was presented in a complete series, presented on international television by someone Ford has publicly declared a personal friend, surely even the mayor realized how bizarre it all has been.
Ford's appearance in Hollywood has been held up as a celebration by his gang of tone-deaf supporters. The Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington, confident of Ford's glory, wrote a story on Ford's appearance rubbing the success in the face of his adversaries.
By the time the show had aired late Monday, the story had been scrubbed from the website and replaced with a less celebratory post.
One that includes Ford claiming he was "set up." Because apparently he thought the sharp-tongued comedian brought him to Los Angeles to give him a back rub.
Add another branch to the massive conspiracy against the Ford brothers.
Jimmy Kimmel, Chief Bill Blair, Global TV reporter Jackson Proskow, the Toronto Star, Vancouver transit cops. They are all part of a cabal that just doesn't seem to get it.
Ford is untouchable. Anyone who opposes him, questions him or laughs at him are dead wrong. Those people should be ashamed of themselves.
Ford said his Hollywood stint was to promote the city’s film industry, and to promote Toronto as a great place to live and visit. His detractors have said it was more likely to rain more embarrassment on the city.
After Ford’s appearance on Kimmel, we can split the difference. Giving the world full exposure to Rob Ford hasn’t helped the city’s reputation. But it should do wonders to help American understand one thing: Our mayor is a special, isolated case.
He’s one of a kind. And in his wake, Toronto writhes along with the rest of the world.
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