Polls take toll
on electoral soul
By John Breneman
The polls are rich with meaning in our beloved American democracy.
They are the places where those of us not afflicted with degenerative
voter apathy gather to cast our ballots.
They are also the surveys we conduct to find out who's winning
before we head to the aforementioned polls to cast our ballots.
But I did not realize, until I consulted the dictionary,
that another meaning of the word poll is this: "the head,
esp. the crown or top of the head."
Therefore, it seems to me, the most basic purpose of all these
"polls" is to get inside people's "polls"
before we go to the "polls."
During election season, we are constantly barraged by "the
media" (don't get me started on them, I mean us) with
statements like "Joe W. Blow is ahead in the polls"
or "Humpty W. Dumpty is hoping for a strong showing in
the upcoming Humor Gazette straw poll."
The resulting blizzard of stats and percentages is supposed
to be a "barometer" of public opinion. It also gives
the pundits more stuff on which to pundificate.
These behind-the-scenes pollsters supposedly bolster our
understanding of each race by identifying the "front-runners"
and also exposing the sure losers who are "floundering
in single digits."
And so, without further spin, I am pleased to reveal the
results of my latest Humor Gazette political poll. These numbers
will no doubt be read with great interest by Washington insiders
and devoured with baloney and mayo by Joe W. Lunchbucket.
But first a word about my methodology. I have eschewed chewing
the fat with focus groups and no telephone poles were mistreated
in the making of this poll.
To save time and minimize the nuisance factor, I simply polled
various sectors of my imagination to gain deep statistical
insight into the upcoming New Hampshire primary and the state
of electoral politics here in the year 2000.
The following poll is unscientific, undemocratic and unapologetic.
And, as always, my poll results have a margin of error of
plus or minus 142 percent.
-- 92 percent of all McCain supporters wish the war-hardened
Arizona senator would have pistol-whipped each of his opponents
in the recent University of New Hampshire debate.
-- A significant majority of registered Republican voters
believe Orrin Hatch would have a 96 percent better chance
of being elected president if his name was George W. Bush.
-- A similar majority believe George W. Bush would be a charismatic
home heating oil salesman if his name was Orrin W. Hatch.
-- 81 percent of all poll respondents think Republican candidate
Gary Bauer bears a closer resemblance to the mannequin Howdy
W. Doody than any living human.
-- 84 percent of all sane voters agreed that Republican candidate
Alan Keyes has been endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable
righteousness that they find "scarier than Hell."
-- 62 percent of Granite State venture capitalists said Steve
Forbes would gain ground in the polls if he shaved his head
and named Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura as his running mate.
-- 49 percent of all Gore supporters say they oppose targeting
negative ads at "that arrogant weasel" Bill Bradley.
-- 51 percent of all Bradley supporters are calling for the
Democratic primary to be settled by a one-on-one, winner-take-all
basketball game at Portsmouth High School.
Additional poll results:
-- 3 percent of all Granite State voters are titillated by
the candidacy of Thump Party nominee Chris Elliott (see www.thumpcity.com).
-- 47 percent of all Seacoast-area Democrats believe the
Republican Party is nothing more than a front for a Colombian
soft money cartel.
-- 12 percent of all Seacoast-area Republican voters are
concerned that George W. Bush's $67 million campaign warchest
was severely depleted by his appearance at Yoken's restaurant
-- 94 percent of all registered Christians believe Jesus
should be allowed limited access to the White House.
-- 56 percent of all Iowa cheese farmers believe Elian Gonzalez
should be wrapped in the Confederate flag and sent back to
In conclusion, as fresh poll numbers are pounded into our
heads each day, I am reminded of another meaning of the word
"poll." That is, "the blunt or flat end of
Thank you for participating in my little poll. Let's do this
again real soon.
'Fuzzy math' to decide election
By John Breneman
invented the electoral college when he was a student at Harvard,
Vice President Al Gore says he is confident he will win the
dramatic Florida recount that will decide the 2000 presidential
race. However, Republican Gov. George W. Bush says he, too,
is certain that he will prevail, thus giving him enough "electrical
votes" to become the next president of the United States.
Meanwhile, Florida officials are investigating
the claims of 19,000 voters who say they meant to cast their
ballots for Gore, but accidentally wrote in the name of Reform
Party leader Slobodan Milosevic. Amid the controversy, Bush
accused Gore of perpetrating "fuzzy math" regarding
the election results, while Gore countered that Bush has been
utilizing "fuzzy English" to confuse the voters.
Nation plagued by electoral college dysfunction
By John Breneman
Electoral college dysfunction got you
down? Well cheer up, old chum. Studies show that 5 out of
every 10 Americans currently suffer from electoral college
dysfunction (ECD). Symptoms include
mind-numbing confusion about who the next president will be,
heightened sensitivity to extreme political rhetoric and -
common among older ECD sufferers - paralyzing fear about the
future of Social Security.
In more serious cases, patients may experience
media-induced projectile nausea, an unsightly facial condition
called dimpled chads, and a gnawing concern that the supreme
being may be backing the other side.
HMOs are stymied about how to treat this
rare election-year malady and are not willing to extend coverage
to an amber-colored medication that has shown efficacy against
the debilitating psychological trauma of ECD. Fortunately,
both presidential candidates are doing everything in their
power to ease the suffering of the American people.
George W. Bush said he has been learning
all about the "erectile college" from 1996 Republican
presidential nominee Bob Dole. The Texas governor is also
assembling a "translation team" to help him understand
what is going on.
Vice President Al Gore conceded that the
nation is sick and tired of all the political and legal wrangling,
but said he is determined to ensure that the "will of
the people" is litigated into conforming with his vision.
Meanwhile, doctors struggling to find
effective treatment for ECD claim that the media is not helping
matters with its sensationalistic approach to the news coverage.
For example, the dramatic aerial
footage of a ballot-laden Ryder truck leading a convoy up
the Ronald Reagan Turnpike reportedly caused widespread fear
that O.J. Simpson had somehow become involved.
Appearing live on the Jerry Springer show,
Simpson denied any involvement, then demonstrated how voters
can make their intentions clear by using a large knife to
stab the proper holes in their ballots.
Relief may soon be in sight though, with the Supreme Court
expected to rule soon on the defining constitutional question:
How the hell did this happen?
Hopefully, the justices will act expeditiously
because widespread ECD reportedly has given rise to a host
of related illnesses, including cerebral lockbox, inaugural
dystrophy and Voter Intention Deficit Disorder.
and dirty in Dixie
By John Breneman
The gloves came off this week in
South Carolina, where the race between George W. Bush
and John McCain devolved into a bare-knuckle feud.
I had to write this before yesterday's vote so I don't
know who won, but it sure was a hectic week for our
the ruckus in Tuesday night's debate over who delivered
the first low blow, new evidence emerged to indicate
that both camps engaged in decidedly negative campaign
tactics. Though McCain had
pledged to take the high road, Bush issued a harsh statement
accusing McCain of running a television attack ad comparing
the Texas governor's trustworthiness with that of former
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
McCain said he knew nothing about
the ad, titled Dada, and challenged Bush to explain
a campaign flier in which someone had drawn a goatee
and devil horns onto a picture of McCain, along with
a word balloon to make it appear the Arizona senator
was saying, "I like Satan."
Sparks really began to fly a little
before noon Wednesday when the two crossed paths at
a coffee shop in Boiling Springs, a town of 3,500 just
northwest of Spartanburg. Bush called on McCain to tell
voters why he had so blatantly reneged on his vow not
to run negative ads.
"What I actually said, George,
was I won't run NO negative ads." McCain
claimed he deliberately used the double negative in
his campaign pledge to reserve the option of running
negative ads if he felt he needed to.
McCain then rebutted a comment attributed
to a Bush adviser, who reportedly likened McCain's campaign
finance reform plan to a 20-pound sack of dung.
Bush countered that the dung statement
was pay back for an erroneous charge from the McCain
camp that Bush planned to disembowel Social Security
and spend billions of budget surplus dollars to refurbish
the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Meanwhile, fellow Republican candidate
Alan Keyes unveiled a new television ad depicting a
pair of cowboy hat-wearing cartoon characters named
Gov. George W. Hatfield and Sen. John McCoy. While the
bumbling gunslingers howl and shoot each other in the
feet, Keyes voices the narrative:
"Is this pointless squabbling
really what we want the American people to see? We are
talking about electing the president of the United States."
Keyes then launches into an intimidating tirade about
his stance on abortion and morality, pausing every several
seconds to say, "Let me finish."
A spokesman for the Bush campaign
called the ad demeaning, while a McCain adviser called
it not positive.
Returning to the issues of the day
at the Boiling Springs diner, McCain demanded Bush explain
why an elderly woman reported receiving a phone call
from someone claiming John McCain might sneak into her
house later that night and steal her money. Bush shrugged
his shoulders and grinned.
After the two traded jabs over who
would do what if their daughter was raped by an interracial
Democratic crack addict, McCain charged that Bush had
accepted an honorary degree in social intolerance from
Bob Jones University.
Bush reached into his wallet and
flashed a picture of his brother's Mexican wife as proof
he is sensitive to racial and ethnic issues. Then, as
an aide whispered in his ear, Bush broke into a wide
"Well, Mr. Chairman -- or should
I say Massah Chairman? -- perhaps you can explain why
your great-great-granddaddy owned slaves back during
the Civil War." McCain
just grimaced and said he'd killed more people in the
name of freedom than Gov. Bush had.
Momentarily at a loss for words,
Bush urged the locals crowded into the coffee shop to
take a real close look at McCain's neck, suggesting
that it is rubbery in both appearance and texture. Do
the American people really want a man with such a rubbery
dang neck in the White House? I don't think so.
When Bush turned away for a moment
to consult with advisers about his next quip, he was
abruptly hit in the back of the neck by a gooey fudge
brownie. Bush glared at McCain, who offered Bush a Confederate
flag napkin and said he was certain the brownie was
not paid for by the McCain 2000 committee.
issue shouldn't hurt Gore
By John Breneman
I'm no expert on Al Gore's strategy for providing universal
health care, but I do know that he disrupted my recovery
from the flu when he passed through town this week.
I had planned to take Tuesday afternoon off and just
lapse into viral-induced dreamland. That was before
I learned that the vice president would be visiting
not only our fair city, but our fair newsroom as well.
So it was time to "suck it up" as they say
in the rough-and-tumble world of professional journalism.
I had to be there, because I play a key role in the
political process here in our First-in-the-Nation-Primary
state. You see, there is no shortage of people to report
on presidential platforms and policies. But who else
will provide you with first-hand coverage of the way
Gore's ears tend to rise slightly with certain facial
Who else will dispel the "Al Gore is a complete
stiff misconception by describing the way he tipped
back in his chair while talking about "an economic
policy that unlocks the potential of our people"?
But one cannot give the true flavor of the Al Gore
experience without describing what happens before the
vice presidential motorcade arrives.
Al was scheduled to arrive here at 3 p.m. Tuesday for
an intimate chat with our editorial board. Fortunately,
the vice presidential procession was running late so
I had a little time to observe the crew of Secret Service
agents in action as they conducted an elaborate "sweep"
of our building.
There were agents of all shapes and sizes, each of
course with a telltale wire extending from their ear
down into their clothing. The bomb-sniffing dogs were
two of the most beautiful animals I have seen, especially
the black one (they wouldn't divulge his name, so I
shall call him "Blacky").
Blacky's partner led him through each room and every
time the agent pointed to a spot Blacky would sniff
it, I assume to see if there was a bomb or an Algerian
terrorist hidden in some nook or cranny or filing cabinet.
The most impressive part was Blacky's reach. He is
so large that when he stands on his hind legs he is
capable of sniffing a spot seven or eight feet off the
ground. I'll never forget Blacky.
Security was tight. And though none of us were physically
frisked, I think I saw one of the Secret Service agents
undressing me with his/her eyes.
Around 4:02 p.m., the 10 of us who would participate
in the interview were instructed to file into our small
conference room. An event at Somersworth High School
had concluded and Al was on the way.
"They kicked me out of my office," said our
publisher. "I wasn't going to argue with them."
They also read some of our faxes and looked in our desk
drawers, but I guess you can't be too careful nowadays.
As we sat in the conference room waiting, there was
the usual joking around. We speculated on the contents
of the two small yellow canvas satchels sitting in the
corner, stamped with large black letters VRU. ("It
detects something," said the publisher's assistant.)
The minutes ticked by, and one editor who shall remain
nameless said, "I think the first question should
be 'where the hell have you been'?"
But when Gore arrived moments later, he defused that
line of questioning by politely apologizing for being
late. We all introduced ourselves and shook the vice
He won points with me right off the bat by failing
to wear a tie, though for some reason I still tend to
find cowboy boots a little hokey. Mr. Gore appeared
quite relaxed in a plaid shirt open at the collar and
khaki-style pants. When asked, he requested a cup of
See GORE, next page