THE VOTES ARE counted and we've had the ritual of winners and losers making their speeches, while their supporters cheered or wept.
Here are a couple of speeches we didn't hear, but I wish we had.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is a great victory. Not only for me, but for all of you who worked so hard to make this possible. You are the real winners.
"Actually, that isn't true. Let's face it, I'm the big winner because this is a real shot for my ego and my career. And now I'll have a very big office, lots of flunkies, power, influence and people will grovel and slobber in hopes that I will do them favors.
"And I will do them favors, especially if they made sizable contributions to my campaign. I'm no ingrate. Those of you who dropped a bundle, don't worry, you'll have my direct phone line. But be careful what you say; the feds could be listening.
"And my loyal wife, standing at my side, is a big winner, too, because she's into power and status. Without her pushing me to claw and scratch my way to the top, I'd probably still be checking commuter schedules like a mope.
"As for the rest of you, the ordinary political junkies who stuffed the envelopes, rang the doorbells and did the tedious work, I appreciate it. And now you can mention my name and say we're friends, even though I won't remember you tomorrow.
"It's been a long, difficult campaign. Frankly, there were times when I wasn't sure it was worth the effort. You can't believe the stupid questions I had to answer. Some of the reporters are dumber than rocks.
"I must have shook 10,000 hands. Some of them were pretty grubby, and I hope I didn't pick up any germs.
"And my face still hurts from having to smile like a jackass all the time. The first thing I'm going to do when I go home tonight is look in the mirror and stick out my tongue and cross my eyes.
"During this campaign, I made a lot of promises and I hope I can keep them, but don't count on it. Most of the promises weren't my idea. My campaign manager and media adviser dreamed them up after we ran all the polls through computers and figured out what you wanted to hear.
"So what's wrong with that? You wanted to hear it. If I didn't say it, you wouldn't have worked and voted for me. I would have been stupid if I told you what you didn't want to hear. Would you want to think that you supported somebody who is stupid? Of course not.
"By the way, I have a gracious concession statement from my opponent. What a stiff. I hope he runs again next time, the bumbler.
"Now I'm going to leave you. But I won't forget you. How can I? You still have to help me pay off my campaign debt."
And from the other side:
"Thank you, thank you. It appears that the votes have been counted and the news isn't good. No, no, we must be realistic. We fought the good fight but we lost.
"Yes, the voters have spoken. And in this great land of ours, the voters have the final say, even if they don't know what the hell they're doing and choose to cast their votes for the wrong guy, which in this case, they did.
"But it won't be long and you'll discover that you have elected a double-talking klutz, and you'll have only yourselves to blame, you dunderheads.
"Well, I suppose I'm partly to blame. I hired that idiot over there to run my media blitz, but it turns out that he couldn't sell hot soup to a starving, freezing Eskimo. Just try to collect your salary, you turkey.
"Anyway, I have sent the following message to my opponent. 'Congratulations on your disgusting victory. It just proves that the better man doesn't always win. You are one of the slimiest examples of human life I have ever encountered. I just wish this were the old days, so I could challenge you to a duel on the field of honor and put a slug in your miserable hide for all of the lies you told about me. And a second slug for some of the truthful things you said about me. I don't know which was worse. And I hope that the Justice Department keeps an eye on you because if they do, it won't be long before you are standing before a judge being sentenced for malfeasance, nonfeasance and mopery with intent to gawk, and I will buy a round of drinks to celebrate when they lead you off to the slammer.
"Now I am going to walk off into the sunset, and if any reporter sticks a microphone in my face, I'm going to stick it in his . . . well, somewhere or other.
"So goodbye, farewell and to hell with politics. This has been the worst experience of my life, and I regret every minute of it.
"And if anybody tries to shake my hand, I'll break your fingers."