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20 Questions
Satirical post-debate analysis
(see below)

The Spin Room
Goes to Work

By Lars Trodson

9 p.m. -- President Bush enters the stage at the University of Miami first, followed a few seconds later by Sen. John Kerry.

9 p.m. -- Bush operatives issue blogs and faxes and press releases calling Kerry "slow": "We honor his service to America," said the release. "But does America need a president who is this slow?"

9:00.08 -- Various mental health organizations immediately issue press releases decrying the use of the word "slow."

9:00.11 -- "Democrats need to get a sense of humor," Fox commentator Dick Morris states while eyeing Judy Woodruff's feet.

9:00:12 -- Kerry shakes Pres. Bush's hand and leans in to say a word or two. Kerry smiles and then the President does as well.

9:00:13 -- "Veteran Flip-Flopper John Kerry showed his true teeth when he fake-smiled at the President this evening in Florida," read a blog entry immediately posted on the Swift Boat Vets for Truth web site.

9:00:13 -- James Carville issues press release: "Bush bears fangs" is the title.

9:00:15 -- The two candidates part and return to their respective podiums. They arrive at the same time.

9:00:15 -- No press releases issued.

9:00:18 -- Moderator Jim Lehrer is sitting before the two candidates and begins to lay out the rules. He directs first question to Sen. Kerry.

9:01:20 -- Ann Coulter writes a column for her own web site: "Liberal traitor Osama bin Laden loving elite media snubs president in favor of French candidate!"

9:01:21 -- Coulter's own site rejects the column.

9:01:22 -- Lehrer is winding his way through the first question.

9:00:25 -- No press releases issued.

9:02 p.m. -- Lehrer finishes question.

9:02:30 -- PBS immediately emails press release: "Veteran newsman Lehrer's integrity in first question during historic debate remains unassailable!"

20 Questions about Post-Debate Spin

By John Breneman

Is the water cooler half empty or half full?

Did Kerry hammer Bush with that "colossal error of judgment" zinger? Or did Bush impress voters by telling 'em 11 times that fighting terror is "hard work"?

Did the president convince even more Americans that we had to invade Iraq because "the enemy attacked us"? Or did Kerry catch Bush pulling his ole "Saddam had to pay for 9/11" trick?

Did Bush wow 'em by repeating his consistent message that Kerry is inconsistent? Or did Kerry shake Bush's steadfast resolve that all he needs to win re-election is steadfast resolve?

As they say in the influential hip-hop demographic, did Flip-Flop get dope slapped or did Kid Kerry rock the mike and make W. his Bee-yush?

These are the questions that spin through our heads as the unpredictable post-debate portion of the debate unfolds before us.

Did the challenger hit a home run?
Did the incumbent lay an egg?

Did Bush's "plainspoken" personality shine through when he said, "I uh ..." then froze for several agonizing seconds? Or did President Six-Pack overcome a subpar oratorical performance by making funny faces at Senator Smarty-Pants?

Did Kerry get under Bush's skin by reminding him that Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein, attacked America on Sept. 11? Or did the president successfully rebut the charge by saying, duh, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that"?

Did Kerry score rhetorical points by saying Bush "outsourced" the job of capturing bin Laden to Afghan warlords working for minimum wage? Or was it a low blow to remind Jr. that his daddy was smart enough not to bumble into Iraq with no "exit strategy"?

Did Kerry make headway by suggesting the president's tax cuts for the rich would be better spent making America safer? Or does Bush really expect voters to buy his simplistic response that of course we're safe with him because "That's my job"?

Perhaps the most important questions of all: Will these revealing face-to-face showdowns cause any supporters of this failed president to look back after Nov. 2 and say, "I actually DID vote for George W. Bush, before I voted against him"? Or is it too late to convince those who have been duped by Mr. Bush that he is the wrong president at the wrong place at the wrong time?

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John Kerry and George Bush square off Thursday night.
Click here to Punch the Prez

Pre-debate hype

By John Breneman

Now that the debate on the Vietnam War is almost over, it is time for another presidential debate. This one will help determine who will lead America for the next four years -- Flip-Flop or Just Plain Flop.

The rules are simple: No eye-gouging, head-butting or
Abu Ghraib-ing.

Sound-biting is not only allowed, it is practically the only way a candidate can score "points" at a modern-day presidential forum, since post-debate analysis is largely confined to who sighed or shrugged, who looked at his watch, or did the best job delivering a zinger written by his team of political strategists. Points are added for making the audience laugh, but not deducted for blatant lies.

Attempts at substantive dialogue are frowned upon. This is because, though polls say voters crave "substance" over "flash," polls also show that most Americans can no longer detect "substance" unless it is delivered using an eye-grabbing jolt of "flash."

Additional rules, agreed to in a 32-page document designed to limit spontaneity, specifically prohibit bitch-slapping, throwing of feces and (flashback to 1988) any hypothetical questions about a candidate's wife getting raped and murdered.

In the interest of national security, President Bush will not be forced to explain why he flip-flopped on his pledge to catch Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" or why he chose to respond to the tragedy of 9/11 by starting a brand new death toll in Iraq.

Security will be tight in response to concerns that al Qaeda may try to disrupt the event, perhaps by sneaking a whoopee cushion onto Bush's podium or beheading a few more registered voters.

The moderator, beloved game show host Wink Martindale, will be heavily armed.

The debate is set for 9 p.m. Thursday night at the University of Miami, where fun-loving undergrads will be playing the Presidential Debate Drinking Game.

The rules are simple:

-- Each time either man says "duty," drink one large gulp of beer.

-- Each time either candidate emits a well-practiced soundbite that is meant to sound spontaneous, guzzle one large gulp of beer.

-- Each time Kerry says "family values," drink one 2-ounce glob of Heinz ketchup.

-- Each time Bush says "family values," snort one line of cocaine.

-- If anyone says "four more years," drink four more beers.

-- If President Bush insists we must "stay the course," just take a bunch of pills and go to bed.

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