Cutting Down Presidential Timber
by Joe Lavin
Brace yourself. Campaign 2000 is about to start in earnest. When last I
wrote about this, it seemed there would be as many presidential
candidates as Pokemon characters, but over the past few months they
seem to have been dropping out at an alarming rate. By now, it appears
that there may be only four viable candidates left.
First, there's George W. Bush, who as you know is the Governor of --
well, you know, that big state down south. Um, what's it called? Texas, I
think. In the past few weeks, Bush has shifted the focus of his campaign
from skirting the drug question to attempting to prove that he might have
a clue when it comes to foreign affairs and geography. So far, he hasn't
been very successful at this. Earlier in the year, he called the Greeks
"Grecians." Later, he couldn't tell whether he had met with the Prime
Minister of Slovenia or Slovakia. And, finally, he flunked a pop quiz on
foreign leaders by an impetuous Boston reporter. ("The Prime Minister of
India is ... I don't know.") Oh, if only Dan Quayle were still running!
Imagine how much fun a Bush-Quayle debate could be to watch.
Despite all this, W's working hard to learn more about foreign affairs
because that's just the sort of stuff presidential candidates are supposed
to know. And if the other candidates know about it, well, W wants to
too. After all, as they say, when in Rome, do like the, er, Romulans?
Still, somebody ought to inform our favorite letter that this is a
presidential campaign and not an episode of Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire? In a debate, he's just not going to have the chance to ask,
"Um, could I use my lifeline now to call my Dad?"
Next, there's Senator John McCain whose people are busy telling
everyone that he's not crazy because of his time as a Vietnam POW.
These are cruel rumors being spread by another campaign, we are told.
Never mind that the first time I heard of this was when McCain started
denying it. This is what is known in politics as a preemptive strike.
McCain is also denying that he has a bad temper, and god damn it if you
don't all just shut up about it, he's really gonna start kicking some ass.
And those rumors about him being paranoid? That's also being spread
by another campaign. They're out to get him, I tell you.
On the Democratic side, the hot candidate is now Bill Bradley, and, well,
doesn't that just say something about the Democratic side when the hot
candidate is ... Bill Bradley? He seems to be smart enough, but this is not
exactly an exciting man. The Bradley campaign is apparently trying to
counter the boring and stiff Al Gore with a candidate who is tall, boring,
and stiff. Let's face it. There's not a whole lot of difference between these
two. Bradley's slogan might as well be: "Vote Bradley. He's taller!"
As for Al Gore, he's no longer the old boring and stiff Al Gore. No, perish
the thought! He's now the NEW boring and stiff Al Gore. Much like Bob
Dole in the last campaign, Al Gore has taken off the tie to show that he's
a spontaneous man of the people. Because, after all, there's nothing quite
so spontaneous as planning to be spontaneous. "Guess what, Tipper.
I'm gonna be spontaneous today!"
Now, Gore aides are trying to convince us that Gore is actually a funny
guy. Earlier this week, they somehow managed to get Salon to write an
especially ridiculous article all about Wacky Al and his sense of humor.
The article was basically a list of all the funny things Gore had done in
his life. These range from occasionally rolling oranges down the aisle of
his plane during takeoff to once fooling his doctor into thinking his hand
was bleeding by dipping it in salsa. Yes, it turns out that we've got a
regular comedian as Vice-President. Maybe if this whole Presidency
thing doesn't pan out, he could instead go into comedy.
And here's my favorite quote from the article:
"Asked to recount his own favorite comedic moment, he told aides to tell
this reporter about one particular morning when he was in the shower. It
was around the time he was starting to lose his hair, and he called out to
Tipper to tell her he really liked her new shampoo. He said it was great
stuff, felt 'really tingly.' Horror washed over her face as he poked his
lathered head out from behind the curtain and she saw what he was
holding: a bottle of Nair hair-removing lotion."
Yes, indeed, we'll all be rolling in the aisles from laughter if we elect
Wacky Al. I'm just hoping his Presidency comes with a laugh track so
that we'll know when we're supposed to laugh. Essentially, the main Gore
message is this: While he may seem dull in public, Gore is actually very
funny in private. And I sort of understand because -- when I'm in a
private setting and there's nobody around to verify anything -- I like to
make arcane policy statements about NAFTA. Honest.
Well, don't worry, in eleven months, we'll finally have a new President-
elect, and this will all seem like a bad dream. I bet you can't wait.