Rollin', rollin', rollin' at the convention

Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Now HERE'S a great idea from the Republicans.

You know the roll-call votes they take at conventions? I'm talking about when the state delegation chairpersons get up, one by one, and - before revealing how their states are going to vote, which everybody already knows - drone on about how great their states are, even if the state is a known armpit:

``Mr. Chairman, the great state of Alabama, proud home of the largest Methodist-owned ottoman reupholstering plant east of the Mississippi; birthplace of the steam-powered pig castrator; site of the world's tallest free-standing pile of used truck tires; consistently rated among the top five states in the nation for spittoon safety; the state whose official state university proudly owns a complete set of the 1979 Encyclopedia Britannica except for volume IV (Dachshund-Easter Island) which whoever has it should please return it immediately; the state with more Big Boy restaurants per capita than ...''

... and so on, state by state, until every TV viewer in America has switched over to watching reruns of ``Gilligan's Island.'' Except for big stupid hats shaped like elephants or donkeys, these roll calls are the single most-ridiculed element of political conventions. Everybody agrees that they are boring, moronic and spectacularly inefficient. And so guess what the Republicans have done? They have come up with a New Idea! The party of Change, the party of Efficiency, the Party of Getting Things Done, has figured out a way to make the roll call last for THREE NIGHTS.

Yes. They're calling it a ``rolling roll call,'' and the way it works is, they do only a third of the states each night, except that some of the states, after bragging for 10 minutes about their achievements (``... birthplace of fat-free canoe wax ...'') declare that they are PASSING, which means the next night they vote AGAIN. At this rate, the Republicans may never get around to actually nominating George ``W.'' Bush III Jr., which means they'll be legally forced to recycle Viagra spokesperson Bob Dole, who, when asked about this possibility, declared ``I'm up for it!'' (Rim shot.)

So most of the action here is taking place on the streets, where protesters continue to fight for Meaningful Change via the highly effective technique of shouting semi-coherent slogans at police officers, police horses, and small, baffled clots of civilians. I watched one protest march, which consisted of about 1,000 people representing, at a conservative estimate, 7,000 different causes. Here is just a partial list of the things that the protesters were angry about: war, poverty, hunger, racism, homelessness, disease, pollution, police brutality, the death penalty, the judicial system, the antimissile defense system, the System, animal abuse, corporations, sweatshops, authority, rich people, money in general, stadium construction, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the federal government, meat, and of course The Gap.

To dramatize these causes, some protesters had dressed themselves as giant cockroaches; others were wearing cardboard mouse heads; and others were carrying (why not?) large cardboard peanuts. One man was brandishing a four-foot-long toothbrush and, through an electric bullhorn, shouting ``LET ELVIS BE PRESIDENT! WHY IN THE WORLD CAN'T A DEAD MAN BE PRESIDENT?!?'' To be fair, this man may have been just fooling around, unlike the serious protesters wearing the cockroach costumes.

Here's the rest of the convention news:

``DICK'' CHENEY UPDATE - The Democratic Party has released another attack ad, this one charging that, while he was a congressman in Wyoming, Cheney had an ``unusually close friendship'' with a sheep named Bernice. Cheney immediately issued an angry denial, stating that it was ``strictly platonic'' and ``her name was Jennifer.''

PARTY UPDATE - Greed-crazed fascist corporate pigs continue to try to corrupt the political process by holding lavish parties wherein they try to bribe politicians and the media with free food and liquor. I say we give them whatever they want.

The Dave Barry-for-President campaign needs you! Check out Dave's Web site at http://www. for secret orders.

Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

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