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This week we contemplated cruel and unusual punishment. Would it be death by firing squad, electric chair or a blood-spitting whip at the Holy Land Experience with Lizz Winstead? We'd prefer the comedic Jesus option, frankly.

Photo: Billy Manes, License: N/A

Billy Manes

Even after the new chair was installed in 1999, “the apparatus that administers the electric current to the condemned inmate was not changed,” brags the Department of Corrections website. (The new chair, naturally, was constructed by inmates. If you’re in the mood for other examples of the sadism of Florida prisons, look up “air conditioning” on the Department of Corrections website.)

In Drake’s Dystopia, the chair would be front and center again, and perhaps, in this cash-strapped state, Drake will put forth a bill allowing spectators – his constituents, we imagine – to watch the squirming for a modest fee. That is, if someone can keep him away from the Waffle House.

Speaking of senseless displays of public injustice, we had the rather distinct pleasure of accompanying comedy queen (and The Daily Show co-founder) Lizz Winstead down a blood-stained irony slide into a theme-park crucifixion on Friday. Winstead, whom we hastily befriended last week (see “The land of abstinence and unicorns,” Oct. 13) popped into town as part of her “Planned Parenthood, I’m Here for You!” fundraising tour, but wasn’t about to miss the chance to point and laugh at the shalom shambles of the Holy Land Experience and its current combover proprietors, Jan and Paul Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. So exactly one thin red belt and two matching red shoes later (blood!), we found ourselves cavorting with the plastic wildlife at the Garden of Eden outside the park’s entrance and wondering just how horrible we would have to be to get cast out of the park by Jesus himself. Turns out we’re not quite horrible enough. The park, on the other hand …

Of greatest concern was the daily scheduled Passion of Jesus Christ show, because who doesn’t like the flogging of a fictional martyr right around lunchtime? Before that could happen, though, we dragged Winstead through a series of horrible events: a talking fish in a cave that was supposed to represent the belly of a whale in which “Jonah” was animatronically suspended, a gift shop, an almost unbearably sad funereal karaoke situation (or one old man singing), a diorama-esque replication of Jerusalem, another gift shop, numerous life-size cardboard standees of Jan Crouch cotton-candy crying and, well, a gift shop. We totally occupied Jesus.

“You should come back around 5,” a creepy holy-staffer told us with an uncomfortable giggle. “That’s when we follow the crucifixion of Christ by tossing Satan into the pit.”

Astute readers of this publication will know that the only real pit in this untaxed fallout shelter is, well, all of it. The Crouches are a pink hairball of controversy with a big gay wink attached, and the Holy Land Experience – even before the Crouches’ 2007 takeover – had an odor of tackiness (and garlic) that can best be equated with whatever fungus lives inside of your grandmother’s purse. Regardless, we were there for an event, so an event had to happen.

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