Not so long ago, popes greeted the masses (no pun intended) in the open air, waving to the devout from the backs of convertibles. Then, in 1981 -- nearly 20 years after JFK's assassination proved how dangerous open air can be -- someone tried to take out Pope John Paul II, and the head of the Catholic church has been preserved under glass ever since.

Well, mostly. In his own backyard, the pope often lets his guard down, opting for models that are open at the sides or occasionally, fully exposed to the elements. But outside Vatican City and Rome, the guy is much more cautious. Check the converted Mercedes-Benz above that the current pope Benedict used during his recent trip to London. The word "fishbowly" comes to mind -- even though there's some question as to whether "fishbowly" counts as a word.

But no matter what form it takes, the Popemobile is always, always, always white. We appreciate that aesthetic, but we also feel sorry for the poor schmuck who has to keep those things clean. (FYI, the people at the Vatican probably don't refer to the man as a "schmuck" because, you know, Yiddish and Pope Benedict's Nazi background aren't exactly a happy meal combo. We pity the guy is what we're saying.)

Frankly, we think the Popemobile -- especially this one -- could do with a little more bling beyond the one teensy-weensy coat of arms. We're not talking about a full on Pimp My Ride job -- after all, this is the pope we're talking about, and if you've been to St. Peter's, you know how much the guy likes understatement. But surely it could handle a little spicing up.

Hmm. It looks pretty airtight from where we sit (which is probably a good thing, given the mobs of angry protesters who greeted him on the streets of London), so we're guessing it's watertight, too. Maybe Benny could fill up the passenger tank with water and do a little synchronized swimming. That's what the kids like these days, right? Synchronized swimming?