Fellatio and the End of the World

Mark Sherman connects the dots of how a beautiful act may have doomed our species.

In early 1997, I took a four-week workshop in New York City on writing and performing stand-up comedy. Among the bits that I prepared was one about a well-known woman who had just died in her mid-70s. In the bit, I told of how she had romantic involvements (including a marriage) to some very famous and important men.

“She was pretty,” I said, “but not exceptional. So what was her secret?

“I think it’s pretty obvious.

“Oral sex.

“I’m convinced that this is the big secret that can pretty much explain world history: the blow job.”


In comedy is often truth, and little did I know when I wrote those words how prophetic they would be. One could argue, in fact, that a major factor responsible for what looks like our disastrous environmental future is oral sex, the blow job, to be specific.

Lest you wonder how something so beautiful could possibly lead to something so tragic, let me explain.

First, about the environment. It’s hard to keep a smile on your face when you’re constantly reading stories with titles like this: “As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas” (New York Times, November 14, 2010), or opinion pieces with titles like this: “Game Over for the Climate” (New York Times op-ed, May 9, 2012). The November 2010 article states, “To a majority of climate scientists, the question is not whether the earth’s land ice will melt in response to the greenhouse gases people are generating, but whether it will happen too fast for society to adjust.” In the op-ed piece, after describing the possibilities of climate change leading to “semi-permanent droughts” or “heavy flooding,” with “food prices (rising) to unprecedented levels,” the author, climate expert James Hansen, says, “If this sounds apocalyptic, it is.”

When I read pieces like those — and recall that on a mid-April day this year it reached 90 degrees in upstate New York, which is 30 degrees above normal — I can’t help but go back to the 2000 election, when a leading environmentalist, a politician who essentially wrote the book on climate change, came inches away from becoming our president. (It’s one part of the past I just can’t seem to let go of.)

Many explanations have been offered for why Al Gore didn’t clearly and unequivocally win the presidential election in 2000. For those who wanted to see him become president, there are so many villains here, including Ralph Nader; the West Palm Beach ballot, which confused many voters; and the Supreme Court.

But some people prefer to look not so much at these factors, but rather at Gore’s campaign, which many found lackluster. Among the criticisms leveled at the campaign was that Gore did not take full advantage of a master campaigner, the sitting president, Bill Clinton. And most believe that the main reason for this was Gore’s upset over Clinton’s liaison with Monica Lewinsky in 1998.

When he announced his candidacy for president in June 1999, “Gore said in a television interview…that Clinton’s extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky was ‘inexcusable’ and that the president had lied to him, just as he had lied to everyone else.”

Gore added that “particularly as a father, I felt that it was terribly wrong, obviously.” (reported by CNN, June 16, 1999).

Clearly, Gore was not happy with Clinton, and these kinds of comments surely could not have encouraged the president to stump enthusiastically for his vice president in 2000. We will never know if a strong and welcome Clinton presence on the campaign trail would have been enough to make Gore the clear winner of the presidency, but most analysts agree that it might very well have.

What is pretty certain, however, is that had Monica Lewinsky not performed oral sex on the president in 1998, Gore would have been happy to have Clinton vigorously campaign for him – and would quite possibly have become the 43rd president of the United States. We don’t know if he, single-handedly, could have set the wheels in motion to combat climate change; but given what he accomplished out of office, most prominently with his Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, it is hard to believe that four or perhaps eight years of a Gore presidency would not have made a big difference in the world’s attempts to contain carbon emissions and slow its frightening march toward climatic oblivion.

And so I rest my case. What seemed like a joke when I wrote about it in 1997 became very serious less two years later. If T.S. Eliot had written his poem “The Hollow Men,” not in 1925 but in 2005, he might have made one small change in its famous concluding lines. The last word, “whimper,” would be replaced, and the poem would end, “This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blowjob.”

This is a very slightly revised version of a post which originally appeared on Mark’s Psychology Today blog.


Photo— christine zenino/Flickr

About Mark Sherman

Mark Sherman is editor of the Boys Initiative blog (www.theboysinitiative.wordpress.com), and also writes one for Psychology Today (Real Men Don’t Write Blogs). He received his Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard, and has taught, researched, and written on gender issues since coauthoring Afterplay: A Key to Intimacy in 1979. Having three sons and four grandsons, he is especially interested in how boys and young men are doing both in and outside of school.


  1. Kârla Lüippruk says:

    Yes, because in America: “Oral Sex = Blowjob (oral sex on men only).”
    No one gives a damn about oral sex on women, most men clearly don’t even remember it exists. Most women don’t get it and the women that eventually get it still give more than get in the end – and all that in a Country where women are still extremely oppressed sexually so most would need even more stimulation, you know. I don’t want an American lover, never, ahaha.
    About the politics, I dunno. I only know about the low ranking of the male lovers there. lol

  2. Draconian says:

    I distinctly remember election night in 2000. I was in college and stayed up late into the night hoping that a winner would be announced. Because that’s what happens. A winner is always announced on election night.

    I remember thinking it was strange that people weren’t upset when the Supreme Court decided the outcome of the election. Is this not a democracy? Excuse me. “Democratic republic.” The Supreme Court deciding a presidential election…the founding fathers would be turning over in their graves. But nobody really seemed to care. Not enough to protest.

    There should never be a time when the winner of the popular vote loses the election. And, to be fair, most of the time that doesn’t happen. The electoral math works out where the popular vote winner usually wins in the electoral college. But it’s…inelegant, to say the least.

    “We will never know if a strong and welcome Clinton presence on the campaign trail would have been enough to make Gore the clear winner of the presidency, but most analysts agree that it might very well have.” –Mark Sherman

    Perhaps. When Bill Clinton left office, the economy was surging to the point where there were budget surpluses. Then Bush came into office and put an end to that fiscal responsibility nonsense. When Clinton left office, the country was in good financial shape. In addition, he kept the country out of major wars. So it’s no wonder that he left office with the highest approval rating of any outgoing president. People were genuinely sad to see him go, despite his sexual improprities and lying under oath.

    But also remember that Bill campaigned heavily for Hillary and she didn’t even make it out of the primary.

  3. Are we STILL litigating the 2000 election?! For crying out loud, having Bill stump in a few dozen more cities would NOT have stopped the overall cultural pendulum swing to the conservative side. Gore was not a galvanizing character, he was not engaging. He was absolutely smart and capable and would have made a great president, but that’s not how elections work. He was boring and pedantic. I voted for him, I campaigned for him, i cried for him. But I didn’t think he had any ability to win over the “gut feeling” voters which make up much of the swing voter group. He is professorial and brilliant, but not compelling. What little difference Clinton could have made in a handful of states… it wouldn’t have mattered. They were the same states that don’t judge Governor Appalachian Trail. Every complaint against Clinton has less to do with oral sex and more to do with his identity as a Democrat. Party adherents don’t care what you do if you’re in their group, they only care if you AREN’T in their group. And then there’s always Florida, which had more to do with electoral fraud than actual campaign strategy.

  4. Hate to say it, but... says:

    I think you missed the point (so to speak).
    Gore was upset because Clinton LIED to him about what he had done. In politics, lying to your running mate is disrespectful and violates trust, which ends the partnership. Game over.

    “Gore said in a television interview…that Clinton’s extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky was ‘inexcusable’ and that the president had lied to him, just as he had lied to everyone else.”

    Had Clinton been more honest with him, I think Gore might have found some compassion — and things would have turned out much differently indeed.

    Props for a well-written article, though.

  5. 1) Climate change is happening, only fools try to prove otherwise.
    2) “Beautiful act”? More like disgusting. That’s why I don’t do it. But to be fair, I don’t have to; men appreciate me for what comes OUT of my mouth, not what goes in it.

  6. GOP Delusionist says:

    All this global warming stuff is garbage. Completely untrue. Nonsense. Absolute BS! Not a sliver of evidence. All made up by lying liberals who just hate for people to have a good time!

    I don’t care that 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree on this. That’s not important.

    All I know is that I HATE Al Gore so much. And if he believes in human caused global warming that is MUST be a lie.

    I’d rather the entire planet be destroyed than to admit that a liberal or an environmentalist or a scientist was right.

    And THAT’S the kind of logic that me and my fellow conservatives know is true. Why? BECAUSE WE WANT IT TO BE!!!

    • And I hate Bill Clinton so much that I’m willing to intrude into his private sex life in order to discredit him. I’ll casually ignore how the whole investigation started out as an investigation into a real-estate scandal involving the Clintons– and I consider President Clinton’s sex life fair game when it comes to a special investigation. (Meanwhile, that Lewinsky chick sure is cute… ).

      And I hate woman so much that I want their employers to determine if they should have access to birth control and access to abortion services. I’ll call them a slut for speaking truthfully about sex in front of Congress. (Don’t tell anyone this, I still like the blowjobs).

      And I hate Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders because she dared to talk about masturbation openly. After all I masturbate, but I deny it, and I tell others that masturbation is a sin.

      And I hate Obama so much that I …

      And I hate Hillary so much that I …

      The list goes on and on.

  7. Its all about control and money.

    “Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University said in a 2006 presentation to the Geological Society of America: “Glaciers advanced from about 1890–1920, retreated rapidly from ~1925 to ~1945, readvanced from ~1945 to ~1977, and have been retreating since the present warm cycle began in 1977. … Because the warming periods in these oscillations occurred well before atmospheric CO2 began to rise rapidly in the 1940s, they could not have been caused by increased atmospheric CO2, and global warming since 1900 could well have happened without any effect of CO2. If the cycles continue as in the past, the current warm cycle should end soon and global temperatures should cool slightly until about 2035, then warm about 0.5 °C from ~2035 to ~2065, and cool slightly until 2100.”

    A million years ago, the planet was 90F on average which allowed Earth to host the giant reptiles of the time. We are using 100 yrs of data to try and say that the Earth’s average temperature is off by tenths of degrees. I believe climate change is real, man made climate change is just another ploy to control the masses. I live as green if not greener than anyone, but I still don’t believe humans are to blame, or that it will mean the end of the world. After the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ came out, some 10,000 world renowned scientists in related fields signed a petition and declared that the movie made many false conclusions. 300 years ago the planet experienced a mini ice age that lasted nearly a decade. How can we try and control this vast planet and its climate?!? This whole conversation is silliness!

    • The biggest correlation to climate change is sun spot activity. Try and control that!

      • From what source are you pulling the Don Easterbrook quote?

        Also, could you provide a citation or link to this petition of 10,000 world renowned scientists in related fields please? I cannot seem to find it.

    • We came within a hairs breadth of having a breath tax, based on chicanery and numbers fixing of a few key scientists at the fulcrum of AGW theory.
      The hockey stick graph has been totally debunked. The researcher is shown to have cherry-picked for the results he wanted to show.

    • AMen, brother! Finally someones tells the stroy with natural facts.

      Just for giggles, Ice Ages are more devastating and acute!!! Once missed spring or short summer and guesss what crops fail and guess what poeple and animals starve to death. NOw do that for a year milllions die and have ot relocate towards the tropics wchich can only sustain so much. ICe age causes extinction, ask teh dinosaurs………

      Mt Penatumo (SP) erupted and flung 1,000 times the total chloro and sulfur and CO2 into the air than man has used in its entire existance. Forgive my spelling….

      Cliamte chagne and Warming are all shames to get control of us so the few can control the power and wealth and to reduce the middle class to surfs…

      In any case when the cliamtegate emails being true and the facts coming out these people still fight as if it is true. Tell a lie enough and it becomes truth..

      THer are two causes tempurature…. THE SUN and the CORE. The flaires we warm it does not and we cool….THe core is over 497 K 3,000 and is generated by the rotation and so it stablizes the earths temp and keeps the ocean from freezing from the bottom up…

      Experiment. On a cloudy day place a tremometer in the sun and measure it in direct sunlight and then whena cload covers it measrure it again… Guess what the temp goes down in the shade. Was that man made? Well it owuld be if you place a magazine over the thrmo and measures it would stil be lower since the shade keeps the suns rays off the thermo…

      This is easy stuff.

  8. “May” being the operative word. Remember that consensus does not equal being correct.
    From what I have seen, there are a lot of holes in the man-caused global warming theory.

  9. Nick from Texas says:

    I am still shocked that Al did not win in 2000! After all, he did invent the Internet, so he says. Maybe we should ask the (female for you John Travolta fans) massage therapist in Portland, Oregon if Al thought it was disgusting what Bill did, while he was asking her to work on his adductors.
    Al Gore’s “carbon credits” are similar to the Catholic Church’s selling of Indulgences. If a person wants to go green, then quit buying stuff! Don’t buy a new dryer, hang your clothes on the line outside. Don’t buy a new dishwasher, hand wash your dishes in a dish tub and then take the soapy water and pour it on your lawn. Soapy water is good for the lawn. The ways that we are told to go “green” has mostly to do with spending more of our money. Going green by spending more green?!

  10. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    It’s wonderful, but slow vaginal sex is sooo much better.

  11. If global warming is real, why is Gore flying a private jet to events? Why does his carbon footprint quadruple that of the average American? Seems to me if he REALLY believed what he’s preaching, he’d be a little more enviro-friendly. Just saying…

    • Random_Stranger says:

      If he’s flying in a jet to convince 100 other people not to fly in jets, than it would appear he really believes what he preaching.

    • Copyleft says:

      Yeah, how dare a rich person claim to care about the poor? If he were sincere, he’d be poor himself!

      And what’s up with all these healthy doctors going around treating sick people? Damn hypocrites….

  12. AnonymousDog says:

    You are positing that Clinton not getting a blowjob would have made Al Gore, ‘the Tennessee two-by-four’ more popular? And that if elected he would have actually accomplished what you wanted him to do?

    ‘Alternative History’ may be fun, but ultimately not too useful.

  13. wellokaythen says:

    I have the opposite conclusion about the correlation between oral sex and global warming.

    Oral sex instead of vaginal intercourse might slow down population growth and long-term lead to fewer people. Therefore fewer consumers, therefore less pressure on planetary resources, therefore fewer sources of greenhouse gases. An SUV pollutes less when it’s parked somewhere and used as a love shack than when it’s being driven. (Okay, a poor theory, because driving and fellatio can happen simultaneously.)

    I can see it now: “C’mon baby, don’t you care about the planet? Al Gore is counting on you. The inconvenient truth is that I really like blow jobs.”

    Besides, if the world is coming to an end, there’s no reason it has to be a completely unpleasant experience.

  14. And so it’s not really the blow job that is destroying the planet, but the Puritan view held by the American public of this lovely and innocuous act of love and pleasure. Slow fade, curtain, the end.

    • Lalita Russ says:


      Way to blame the woman, once again, for things going wrong (yes, yes, we all know the world is doomed because women a kniving…). Not cool.

      Why not instead blame the idiot who couldn’t get over Clinton’s actions?? Not loving the alternate take, it’s unproductive.

      • Lalita Russ says:

        “had Monica Lewinsky not performed oral sex on the president” … Framing all the blame on her.

        • Mark Sherman says:

          I was not blaming Monica Lewinsky. I was simply describing the activity. She was in her early 20s, and Clinton was more than twice her age (and the president, after all).

          • Lalita Russ says:

            Thanks for the clarification! Language is powerful.

            I still agree with Red Stevens up there though.

          • “She was in her early 20s, and Clinton was more than twice her age (and the president, after all).”… and married, you forgot to mention. Yet you still call it a “beautiful thing”? Not judging the act but the circumstances around it. A blatant misuse of power. But I suppose I’m just a puritan…

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