In Washington, it's politics as usual

August 29, 1999|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight Ridder/Tribune

THE U.S. presidential election is a scant 14 months away, and you can feel the excitement building across the nation, all the way from Washington, D.C., to the immediate suburbs of Washington, D.C.

For the benefit of those of you normal civilian humans who live outside Wingtip World and do not plan to start caring about this election for at least another year, here's a rundown of recent developments:

On the Republican side, the big summer news event was the Iowa straw poll, which gets its name from the fact that anybody who takes it seriously has the IQ of a hay bale. Nevertheless, the news media made a big deal about it, and the leading GOP contenders spent much of the summer tromping around Iowa feigning interest in pigs.

This effort paid off big for George "W." Bush, who won the Iowa straw poll with three votes, which cost him $14.3 million apiece. He was followed by Steve Forbes, Elizabeth Dole, Ricky Martin and Ulysses S. Grant, all of whom received votes, which were cast by Mrs. Earline A. Plankton, an older Iowan whose memory is not what it once was.

Dan Quayle did not receive any votes, but he did develop a strong rapport with a prominent Iowa Labrador retriever named Rex. After the straw poll, Lamar Alexander dropped out of the race, in response to polls showing that nobody, including his immediate family, was aware that he was running.

And speaking of people who have the same mathematical chance of getting elected president as Shamu the Whale: Sen. Orrin Hatch has entered the GOP race, apparently unaware of the constitutional requirement that the president must legally have originated on the planet Earth.

But for now, George "W." Bush is the Republican front runner, which makes sense, because he combines the two essential qualities that the American political system demands of any candidate who hopes to be elected to the most important job in the world:

1. Height

2. Money

You need height to prove that you have Leadership; you need money to communicate your views to the voters by means of TV commercials that have the subtlety of a Teletubbies episode, but less intellectual content. These commercials are expensive to produce, so candidates with limited budgets sometimes buy used ones from earlier campaigns ("Liddy Dole: She has a plan to get us out of Vietnam").

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, it's a close two-man race, with Vice President Al Gore leading on money, and Bill Bradley currently ahead on height. So far, both of these savvy political veterans have managed to avoid committing any strategic blunders, such as making any statement that anybody would remember 30 seconds later.

In case you were wondering, I, too, am still running for president. My current platform is that if I am elected, I will invest the entire federal budget surplus -- currently estimated at $3 trillion -- in my inauguration party. You may argue that this is not a good way to provide for the nation's future, but trust me, if you attend my party, you won't care about the nation's future.

Also, as president, I will make it my highest priority to track down and punish those responsible for putting Mr. Whipple back on the air -- I have seen him twice now -- in commercials for Charmin bathroom tissue. Like most Americans, I had thought that Mr. Whipple had been locked away forever, like Charles Manson, and suddenly he's back.

If we let the advertising people get away with this, it's only a matter of time before they bring back "Ring around the collar." I pledge to you that, as your president, I will use whatever means are necessary to prevent this, including a nuclear strike against Procter & Gamble headquarters.

For the record, I am also still running for the U.S. Senate seat from New York State. I am even willing to buy a house in New York if wealthy contributors pay for it and I don't actually have to live in it. I care so much about New York that, right now, I am going to conduct a listening tour. I want you New York readers to hold this column up in front of your mouth and express your concerns to the area in the parentheses below in a loud and clear voice, while I listen in a sincere manner. OK? Go ahead!

(EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS HERE)

OK! Thank you! Really! Thanks! OK! Shut up now.

Whew! You New Yorkers really have a lot of concerns! Some of you should be more concerned about oral hygiene, if you catch my drift! But I definitely agree with you about everything.

So anyway, I hope that everybody votes for me for every available office. I may not be the tallest candidate, and I may not have the most money, and I may have done some bad things in my life, but I can tell you, in all honesty and frankness, that these things were not my fault.

As a child, I was traumatized by the conflict between Bill Clinton's mother and grandmother. In closing, I want to make the following appeal to you undecided voters out there: Here boy! C'mon Rex!

Pub Date: 08/29/99

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