If Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi didn't wear out the welcome for his first trip to the United States before he even arrived, he likely did after he addressed the United Nations General Assembly today.
In a 90-minute speech before the U.N., Gadhafi delivered a halting and often rambling address in which he seemed to speak off the cuff, continually referring to notes scribbled on pages torn from a notebook.
Gadhafi railed against the U.N.'s power structure, the war in Iraq, suggested the H1N1 flu virus was a military conspiracy, called for a new investigations into the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and demanded European countries repay African countries for their colonial plunders.
Amid his rant, Gadhafi praised President Obama, who spoke just before him. He began his speech by congratulating Obama on his election. Later he referred to him as "our son" and suggested he remain in power for life.
Gadhafi aimed the bulk of his complaints at the United Nations, which he said was not living up to its founding principle of equality for member countries. He slammed the U.N. Security Council and the veto power its five permanent members hold. Branding it the "terror council," Gadhafi proposed a resolution that would abolish the executive body.
"Now, brothers, there is no respect for the United Nations, no regard for the General Assembly," Gadhafi said.
Punctuating his complaint, Gadhafi tore the corner of a copy of the U.N. charter that he had waved around at the podium.
He suggested the U.N. be headquartered elsewhere, saying the tight security in the United States made him feel as if he were at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Why else might he feel that way? Jet lag, Gadhafi said.
He demanded that European countries pay African nations $7.7 trillion for colonizing the continent in the past. If the Europeans don't pay, he suggested, the Africans will go get the money themselves.
Gadhafi managed to contradict himself at some points in his speech. Early in his remarks, Gadhafi suggested the H1N1 flu was created in a military lab, though later he said it was the creation of major pharmaceutical companies.
"What's next? Fish flu?" he asked rhetorically.
Gadhafi's address to the General Assembly ran 90 minutes, but it falls well short of the record, held by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who, the U.N. said, spoke there for 4 hours and 29 minutes in 1960.
Gadhafi's first visit to the United States since he became Libya's leader 40 years ago was controversial even before it began. His government was implicated in a number of terror attacks in the 1980s, including the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 that killed 270 people. The only person convicted in the bombing, a Libyan named Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was recently released by Scotland on the grounds that he has terminal cancer. The move sparked outrage in the U.S.
Gadhafi has had a hard time finding a place to stay during the U.N. meetings; many hotels refused to house him and his plans to pitch his Bedouin-style tent in Central Park or a Libyan-owned property in northern New Jersey were both nixed.