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A heapin' helpin' of hyperbole over some hamburgers.

Let's get one thing straight. I love the Rev. Jesse


Among other things, he granted me my first interview with a person whose fame extended beyond the borders of Rockingham when I, a 19-year-old college newspaper editor in 1977, got an exclusive interview moments before he delivered the college commencement address.

So grateful do I remain after all these years that I wrote him a letter a month or so ago thanking him for talking with me alone while a pack of professional journalists bayed outside the door for an audience with him.

I wrote that letter before I even knew he was scheduled to speak at Shaw University recently. I was initially disappointed upon arriving at Shaw's MLK Jr. lunch only to see that Jesse Jr. was replacing his dad as featured speaker. The disappointment was short-lived, though, because Junior was a terrific stand-in.

Here's the question, though: Can someone love and appreciate Jesse Sr., yet still wonder "What the hell is Jesse doing?" after he came out lambasting President Trump for serving fast food to the Clemson University football team?

There are myriad things for which the president can legitimately be criticized, but the fat content of Wendy's chili or fretting over what some football players eat one day?

Is a mound of cold burgers really the hill on which he wants to plant his flag to wage battle with Trump?

Lord, let's hope not.

Jackson, a Greenville, S.C. native, told the Washington Post that the fast food feast of fries, Big Macs, Whoppers and Wendy's that Trump provided to the team was "disgraceful."

Jackson told the paper that “the national champions deserved better,” that the food offered to them was "beneath the status of their accomplishment” and that he was "offended" by it.

"Offended," Jesse? "Disgraceful"?

That's a heapin' helpin' of hyperbole over some hamburgers, homes.

Yet, there was no shortage of people who claimed to be equally offended.

Here are just three who rushed to fulfill the recommended daily allowance of sumptuous eats after the president served them fast food and filled the historical silver Lincoln gravy boats with sauce packets for the McNuggets:

• Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, Next, the Aviary and Roister, white-tableclothed Chicago restaurants and bars, extended an invitation to the Tigers.

• Ayesha Curry, restaurateur and wife of basketball star Steph Curry, invited them to dinner at her California restaurant.

• Michael Strahan of Good Morning America invited them to dinner in New York.

Here's a tip: if the Tigers want to repeat as national champions next year, they'd better reject most of those dinner invitations or they'll be too full to get down into a football stance - or to get up from one.

Here's another tip: if all these people are really that concerned with making sure young people are well-fed, there are poor kids aplenty upon whom they can bestow their gustatory magnanimity. There are parts of Chicago, Mr. Kokonas, where you can't swing a foie gras-stuffed goose without hitting a person who'd consider a cold Big Mac manna from heaven.

Unfortunately for those poor people, providing delicious yet healthy meals to them wouldn't sufficiently show up the president.

The dining options at Kokonas' Michelin-starred Alinea include rabbit, steelhead roe and filet de Boeuf. (I don't know what that is, either, but I wonder if it goes good with grits.) Dining options at Alinea range from $185 to $385.

Just as many self-professed conservatives will go to any length to "own" the libs - even supporting policies that harm themselves if it'll agitate Democrats - this rush to feed Clemson's national championship football team is an attempt by some progressives to "own" the president, to make him look bad.

As delightful as it is to see so many people so concerned with the nutritional intake of the Clemson Tigers, the fact is that those dudes are going to be cool. The team has a nutritionist whose raison d'etre is to ensure that the players can run their fastest, jump their highest and score more touchdowns than the other guys. A Big Mac - even a cold one - eaten at the White House is not going to make a great team any less great.

You know what would be great, though?

To see this same level of concern for nutritionally challenged people who don't do a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

There's certainly a team of poor little leaguers somewhere that would love a trip to Alinea or, better yet, Golden Corral, to celebrate. I checked its menu, and Alinea has nothing to compare to that marvel of modern technology, the Chocolate Wonderfall.

For all we know, some or all of these celebrities overcome with concern for Clemson footballers' dietary needs may, indeed, already provide meals for people who can't throw a 60-yard spiral while being rushed by 300-pound linemen.

If that's the case, hooray - no, really, hooray - for them.

If not, why not?

Showing up to feed people in need beats showing up to show up a president.

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Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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