Here's some exciting news for you voters: There are only six or seven more months until the presidential election! That's right! Just a half-year or so of listening to the candidates accuse each other of being pond scum, and then we get to choose one as our president!
Oh, it's going to be a fun campaign. It certainly has been wild and unpredictable so far, hasn't it? I mean, just a year ago, all the so-called ``experts'' were saying that it was a done deal, that Al Gore and George ``W'' Bush were sure to get nominated, just because they had money and the political big shots behind them. But guess what? This is not a brutal dictatorship such as Iraq or your cable company. This is the United States of America, where the PEOPLE decide. And the 126 people who actually voted in the primaries have decided that the nominees will be: Al Gore and George ``W'' Bush.
Of course both men were challenged in the primaries. Al Gore was challenged by Bill Bradley, former Knickerbocker and U.S. senator from the state of Suspended Animation. He reportedly had some good ideas; the problem was that, because of his speaking style, nobody heard them. He'd give a speech on health care and the audience would wake up days later, still groggy, saying, ``I remember him saying something about pre-existing medical conditions, and then apparently my head struck the floor.''
Bush's main challenger was Sen. John McCain, who got good coverage from the news media because he invited them to ride on his bus. To a normal, well-adjusted human, a bus ride is not particularly exciting, but it was HUGE to the media, because pretty much everybody hates them, especially politicians, who generally would not invite the media to ride on anything except an inner tube floating just above Niagara Falls. So McCain got excellent press, to the point where some Bush supporters felt that the coverage was slanted, as evidenced by this front-page headline from the Feb. 2 issue of The New York Times:
McCAIN IS SEEN
GAINING ON STUPID
But when all was said and done, the winners were Bush and Gore, one of whom will be our next president, unless - and I would not totally rule this out - the Constitution suddenly is discovered to be missing, and it mysteriously turns up a few days later in the White House living quarters, and, lo and behold, the part that limits the president to two terms is GONE.
But probably it'll be Gore or Bush. Perhaps you're asking yourself: Since we have the candidates, why not just hold the election NOW? Why drag it out? Why can't we be more like, say, Great Britain, which somehow is able to elect an entire new government in less time than it takes for our presidential candidates to agree on the lectern heights for a TV debate?
The answer is that if we vote now, we will do a great deal of harm to something we Americans call ``the democratic process,'' by which I mean ``TV and radio broadcasters.'' These companies are going to be paid many millions of dollars to air commercials in which the candidates viciously attack each other, day after day, month after month, until nobody wants to vote for either one of them except their immediate pets. This is called ``informing the voters.''
To get you started with this process, here's an analysis of the two candidates' strengths, weaknesses and positions on the issues:
AL GORE: His strength is that he has been vice president for eight years, which theoretically gives him a lot of experience. Unfortunately, he cannot remember ever having participated in any official meetings or discussions or anything else that any current or future special prosecutor may or may not find out about. He is in favor of education, the economy and the Family, and he communicates his views on these topics by speaking in a style identical to that of Mister Rogers reassuring 2-year-olds that they will not be sucked down the bathtub drain.
GEORGE ``W'' BUSH: His strength is that he is the son of former President George Herbert Walker Hoover Franklin Pierce Kennebunkport Bush. His biggest weakness is that he apparently does not speak English, or anything else, as a native language, and thus has trouble when asked trick questions, such as what he thinks. He is also in favor of education, the economy and the Family.
Both men are strongly against the use of drugs, at least at this point in their lives.
So there you have it, voters! Your exciting choice! Ointment vs. Suppository!
Only another 200 days or so, and you get to pick one! This is assuming you have not moved to Iraq.
Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.