I had considerable difficulty selecting a topic for this week’s column. Given our extended heat wave, seemingly all of September, I debated writing about global warming deniers. But that just made me hotter than I already was.

Last week at the 2nd GOP presidential debate, Jeb Bush uttered something that got me equally steamed. “My brother kept us safe,” Jeb said proudly. Say what? How about 9/11? I suppose that was just an off day.

The Neocon’s defense for 9/11 was that “W” had only been president for eight months. If a 9/11-type disaster occurred on Obama’s watch, would the GOP be so generous? Decades later they’d still be screaming.

Such is the modern news cycle that, within 24 hours, Jeb’s disturbing claim resonated like day old fish. (Which, forgive me, is also kinda how I feel about Jeb.)

The biggest story currently has to be Pope Francis’ historic six-day visit to the United States. In that time, he will have spoken at the White House and the United Nations; will be the first Pope in history to address a joint session of Congress; he will have led tens of thousands in prayer and visited with immigrants, prisoners and the homeless. (If only Pope Francis wasn’t so lazy.)

But Donald Trump, in his own inimical way, added a dark cloud over the Pope’s joyous visit. But first, the back story is the Pope has spoken out against unfettered capitalism. Perhaps a perfect example is Martin Shkreli, 32, a former hedge fund manager and founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

In August, Turing bought the rights to a 62-year-old drug, Daraprim, used by those with compromised immune systems, like AIDS and cancer patients. Overnight, Shkreli raised Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill, a 5500 percent increase, and had the gall to say he didn’t think it was excessive. (Shkreli is so arrogant I’d love to wipe that grin off his face.)

But back to the Pope and Trump. In July, during a trip to South America, he said, “A culture of profit-chasing marginalized the poor and damaged the earth.” Trump was asked what would he say to the Pope and responded, “I’d tell the Pope ISIS is trying to kill him.” (Such an uplifting message.) It dawned on me there couldn’t be two more different people on the planet than the Pope and the Donald.

Whereas Francis, the “people’s Pope,” preaches humility, the Donald thinks it’s a weakness. The Pope says, “Whom am I to judge?” whereas Trump judges everyone. As did Jesus, the Pope ministers to the poor and homeless, whereas Trump thinks “they’re all losers.”

The Pope has repeatedly called for countries to be more welcoming of migrants and refugees. The Donald has referred to illegal immigrants as “rapists, murderers and drug dealers.”

Pope Francis has called on world leaders to fight global warming, including an encyclical that blamed a materialistic, wasteful society for the destruction of the environment. The Donald blames global warming on the Chinese, whom he theorizes created it to sabotage our economy.

When a questioner at a Trump town hall meeting in New Hampshire said, “We have a problem in this country and it’s Muslims,” and asserted that Obama “is not an American,” the Donald didn’t feel obligated to correct him. The man was obviously racist and yet, as featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Trump told Scott Pelley “You don’t know he’s a bigot.”

Leading the birther movement in 2011, Trump boasted that he had sent private detectives to Hawaii to uncover Obama’s birth records, “And what they’ve found is unbelievable!” And yet Trump never shared that valuable information with the world. Could it be, because like himself, it was bogus? Typically never taking responsibility, Trump now blames Hillary for the birther movement. Go figure.

Shockingly thin-skinned, the Donald stays up late at night vengefully tweeting personal attacks at his many enemies. He made a vulgar reference to Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle but, later, said he was referring to her nose. (Huh?) He criticized Carly Fiorina’s face but, inexplicably, said he was referring to her persona.

Having dodged the Vietnam draft with four deferments, Trump claimed John McCain was no war hero. And considerably overweight himself, Trump also claimed Heidi Klum “is no longer a 10.” (Begging the question, who is he to judge?)

The Pope’s message is one of joy and hope. The Donald’s is one of bigotry and narcissism. In his latest “Trump Tantrum,” he tweeted that he was boycotting Fox News, whining, “They’re not fair to me.” ( Aw, poor Donald.) In South Carolina, he spoke to a room shockingly half-empty. It’s unlikely, but could the two mark the beginning of the end?

Truly, the Pope brings tears of joy to my eyes, whereas the Donald brings a knot to my stomach.

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jnsmdp@aol.com.

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