Photo via Instagram / @realdonaldtrump
Hey: Which of these thumbs-up is the least convincing? They are all, to a certain degree, unconvincing. I am going to posit a theory: that a lot of the people in this photograph have never popped a thumbs-up before in their life. Like, I mean, come on—look at this guy:
Republicans don't want to be happy; it isn't their natural state. So the thumbs-up—a very pure, human gesture of happiness and contentment—is unfamiliar territory for many.
They've just poisoned some water, though, so they are happy. This photo came yesterday, from Trump's latest legislation, a bill to undo one of Obama's final moves, abolishing the Office of Surface Mining's Stream Protection Rule. The regulation protected rivers and waterways from waste disposal from the coal-mining industry, but that has gone now. Listen, I'm no mining expert—and the mining industry, which definitely doesn't have a vested interest in avoiding this, argues the rule will be costly to implement and lead to a loss of jobs—but I think signing a document that makes it OK to poison water again isn't the greatest of ideas. But what do I know? I'm no mining expert!
I am, however, a thumbs-up expert, so we're going to go through every one of these fuckers, left to right, and ask: Hey: which of these thumbs-up is least convincing?
This is how I imagine Frankenstein's monster would do a thumbs-up if the doctor taught the beast to emote through gesture midway through the book. You know: halfway between killing all them kids and the bit where he fucks off to the wilds of the Arctic, Frankenstein sits him down and goes: "Let's try this. It's called 'a thumbs-up,'" and, for hours and hours and hours, until he cries with frustration at it, the monster tries. And this is the best shit they can coax out of his stiff, dead body.
Pretty sure this guy is a dad from a 30-second German-language bathroom-spray commercial who is proud to have cleaned the sink without any help from his wife and daughter. "WENIGER ZEIT PUTZE MAN. MEHR ZEIT FLICKE MAN!" he yells at the end.
This Fucking Guy, I Don't Know
This is actually a good thumbs-up. This is the guy who sold your dad his last three Toyotas. He does his own commercials for the car lot that he has worked his way up to buy. "Hey, come down to Tony's," he says, while air dancers wriggle and piss behind him. "I'll cut you a great fuckin' deal. Hey—" and he pops a thumbs-up, like he was put on Earth by the gods to do a thumbs-up, like he spent his entire five years of junior high walking into a thumbs-up, turning into it shoulder first, he coulda gone all-state with this thumbs-up if he wasn't in that car crash, a thumbs-up that makes the very angels sing above him, and he goes—"Hey. Fuckin' buy my Toyotas."
This is the thumbs-up your dad—who you haven't been able to coax much more than a sentence out of for the past decade and a half... really, have you? I mean, he's never been a man of many words, but he's really let your mom do the conversational leg work since 2002—this is the thumbs-up your dad does when he's pottering about at the bottom of the garden, too far away for you to do much more than shout, and you yell at him, "DAD? DO YOU WANT A CUP OF TEA?"
Illustrative photo from a long read about what happened to all the Fonzie impersonators who made money in the 80s. A very "six of my wives left me, one of them died!" sort of thumbs-up.
This guy died halfway through this photo and didn't even pull a thumbs-up before he succumbed to it, so they had to add that hand on in post. I have to give him a N/A for this one.
The Sartorial Maniac
This thumbs-up is kind of weak and defeated, like a hostage who has spent just a little bit too long sympathizing with his masters while chained to a radiator. The last time this dude pulled that thumbs-up out was when he went to a neighborhood barbecue party and ended up in a conversational group exclusively made up of Mexicans, and when his wife asked him "honey, are you OK?" he popped this out.
Trump has form for the thumbs-up, so in the context this is pretty good, but every time I see him do this pose, I can't help but think this is how he feels tits. I dunno, it's just a feeling: I just feel like, when approached with a pair of tits, Donald Trump coils his fingers into tight half-fists, extends the thumbs, hovers them over each nipple briefly, then presses them in. He might say "bop" as he does it, then sadly and quietly ejaculates. Listen: I have no evidence whatsoever to back this one up. But I am allowed to think it.
"I just upgraded to Windows XP!"
1/10 But please note: view of entire thumbs-up spoiled by POTUS, hard to give a pure score
The One Woman
This is the thumbs-up your step-mom does when she finally convinces your dad to start charging you rent.
No clear thumbs-up from this guy, but we have to assume that—in between having a visible reaction to shellfish, or whatever is going on with his big, ruddy face—he is popping one.
This is a real "I just completed my yearlong tour of every Burger King restaurant in the US" of a thumbs-up. Look at the elbow action.
That Last Guy on the End
This dude's physically inept son is playing cub-level soccer and, despite his hatred for him, his clumsy son, his stupid useless son, those legs you gave him are trash, Lynette! Despite that, he is on the sidelines, weakly cheering him on, giving him the "go on, buddy!" thumbs-up whenever the fuckin' kid makes eye contact.
AND SO WE GET TO THE BIT WHERE WE SAY WHICH IS THE WEAKEST THUMBS-UP
Oh, they all suck. But sadly the contest isn't about that anymore, because remember the dying man? Remember the man who died? Look at this:
Look at this little hand cry for help.
"Maybe… if I just… touch my tiny… baby… hand… on the president's… shoulder… my heart won't… explode… in my chest." Bad luck, buddy. Your hand just became the most disappointing thumbs-up in this photograph of disappointing thumbs-up. And it's not even a thumbs-up. I hope you rest in peace.
Follow Joel Golby on Twitter.