Politics


In the last Vent I mentioned that our fearless (in the way sponges are fearless) leader, George W. Bush, was “thinking” about whether to allow federal funding of stem cell research. By the way, using quotes when referring to W’s “thinking” is actually statutorily mandated, like the requirement of using quotes when saying that Lee Majors is “acting.”

Part of the “thought” process consists of vigorous information gathering. W is reading everything there is to read on Stem Cell research, while eschewing his usual “Babar the Elephant goes Camping!” books. He has also consulted with everyone from the Cardinal of New York to the Pope (he likes to hear diverse opinions) who told him stem cell research was bad, but that really big hats were good. Still after months of this, W still has not made up his “mind” (the quotation statute is actually quite broad).

Recently, W had a private one-on-one confab with his chief health advisor, the Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson. This was the first time the health advisor had actually met with the president, and he required an extensive briefing on how one briefs W. This briefing was conducted by Vice-president Dick Cheney (often referred to as “Sexalicious” in the West Wing). My highly placed sources were able to tell me how that briefing unfolded.

Cheney
Good morning Tommy

Thompson
Good morning Mr. Vice President

Cheney
Cigarette?

Thompson
Absolutely!

Cheney
OK, I just want to go over with you how to brief the
president. First, you’re helping him make a decision
about stem cells, right?

Thompson
That’s right.

Cheney
Ok, you’re going to have to start with the very
basics.

Thompson
You mean I’m going to have to explain what a
“stem cell” is?

Cheney
No. You’re going to have to explain to him what a
“decision” is.

Thompson
Oh my.

Cheney
Now that doesn’t make the president a moron.

Thompson
Oh my God no! I wasn’t thinking it did.

Cheney
Now there are certain things you should never
say in front of this president. For example, never
call him George.

Thompson
Of course not.

Cheney
Never use profanity.

Thompson
Understood.

Cheney
And never use words bigger than “Marshmallow.”

Thompson
I’m sorry?

Cheney
Doesn’t like ’em. Also, no compound sentences, no
contractions, except “Ain’t,” no words with silent
letters and none of those tricky words ending in
“tion.” He says they confuse him.

Thompson
Wow.

Cheney
Doesn’t make him an idiot.

Thompson
No. No, or course not.

Cheney
During the conversation, he may suddenly blurt
out something like, “Who are you?” or “What the
hell you talkin ’bout hoss?” Nothing to worry about,
just keep going.

Thompson
Ok.

Cheney
If he lies down, closes his eyes and starts to
scratch himself, don’t worry. Means he’s listening.

Thompson
Well then, I think I got…

Cheney
…If he takes out any white powder, that’s special “thinking
powder.” Developed by the CIA. Top secret. You never saw
it.

Thompson
Gotcha.

Cheney
Occasionally the president may make an honest mistake.
For example, if you mention the blastocyst, the president
may think you’re saying something bad about God.

Thompson
You mean like…blaspheme?

Cheney
Does not make the man a ‘tard…necessarily.

Thompson
No, certainly not.

Cheney
As the conversation goes on, you may feel the urge
to argue with the president. Resist that urge.

Thompson
No problem.

Cheney
As the conversation goes even further, you will feel the
urge to leap across the room, grab the president by the
throat and literally suck the “stupid demons” out of his
ears. Resist that urge as well.

Thompson
I would never…

Cheney
Will you just trust the voice of experience here? Now,
when you leave the oval office and meet the reporters
outside, please make sure to say that the meeting was
“wide-ranging and productive.” You got that?

Thompson
“Wide-ranging and productive.”

Cheney
The meeting was not, as the French ambassador said,
“like teaching a buffalo to rivet.”

Thompson
He said that?

Cheney
Also, the president was “engaged and inquisitive,” not
as the head of NASA said, “dull as a coffin and coked
to the fuzzies.”

Thompson
I understand sir.

Cheney presses the intercom

Cheney
Send the president in please.

Receptionist’s Voice
I’m sorry Mr. Vice-president. The president has injured
himself learning about fiscal policy again.

Thompson
Injured himself? You mean physically?

Cheney
You don’t want to know….Doesn’t make him
a complete chowderhead!

Thompson
Uh…No, of course not.

As the Vent has evolved, I have tried to keep my loyal readers up to date on breaking news. I told you about the conception of our daughter, Brennan, in real time. And I broke the news of how Kennedy trounced Keffaufer in the 1956 Vice-presidential ballot, although admittedly the story was 45 years late, and wrong.

It is in that spirit of intrepidness that I break the following story: Until recently the PA State Senator where I lived was Dick Tilghman. He however retired unexpectedly a few months ago at age 81 to go do whatever 81 year old ex-senators do (a lot of surfing I’m told). Our State Representative, Connie Williams, ran for and won his seat. This left her seat vacant. There will be a special election to fill that seat on February 12, 2002. Since it is a special election, there is no primary. Also, everything about the election is legally required to have the word “special” before it, i.e. “Special” bumper stickers, “Special” negative ads, etc.

Since there is no primary, the nominees of each party are selected by the parties themselves. In this case, the Democrats, after reviewing a number of candidates, selected me to be their nominee. I am very honored and grateful for this opportunity. It goes a long way to make up for the whole “Being passed over for Joe Lieberman” thing that still grates me.

So I will be a candidate for the next 60 days or so. It will be an exciting time of me waking up everyone morning saying “how can I get votes today?,” and my neighbors waking up every day saying “Who the hell put ‘Leach is a Peach’ signs all over our garage?” Since the people who have selected me have placed a lot confidence in me, I feel it is my obligation to act mature and responsible throughout the campaign. For example, no more bunny slippers to court! Also, I have been told to be very careful about what I write in the Vents. In fact, I was given the following guidelines:

Things I cannot write about in the Vent:

A. Anything I’ve ever done, said or felt, from the beginning of time to the present.

B. Anything any other person has ever done, said or felt, from the beginning of time to the present.

C. Anything else, not covered by A or B.

But don’t despair, there are some things that I can still feel free to expound on at length. Here is that list:

Things I can write about in the Vent:

Them Sixers!!

Obviously, the Vents will be slightly less frequent over the next two months. However, I will certainly be gathering much excellent material for the future. If I win, I may even write a full length book: “Fear and Loathing in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.” In the meantime I will be doing what all candidates do. I will be going to pancake breakfasts, knocking on doors, denying stuff vigorously and threatening to sue, and mostly, raising money. So I’ll see you in 60 days when I write my next VENT, “The Crushing Defeat Diet.”

Tomorrow: How about them Sixers!!!???

As the campaign moves forward toward the inevitable demands for a recount, I find I am learning things all the time. Things like the fact that I should keep my talents as a rapper to myself, and the importance of wearing pants “all the time.” Another thing I’m learning about is the art of the opinion poll.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of polling. It’s hard to believe that you can learn the opinions of a large group of people by asking a tiny percentage of that group some questions. When I first heard about this in high school, I decided to test this theory out myself.

I crafted a poll question for the women in my class. The question was “Do you want to date Daylin?” I selected one random female, Renee Tewilliger, and asked her this question. She answered “NO WAY” (I deemed the fact that she yelled her answer and made gagging sounds not germane to the poll). I then asked all 30 females in my class the same question (I chose to deem the fact that they all yelled and made gagging sounds, two passed out, and four continue to laugh to this day, as not germane to the poll). And much to my amazement, there was a 100% correlation between Renee Tewilliger’s answer and the opinion of the rest of the class.

I then decided to make the poll more sophisticated. I gave Renee Tewilliger a series of possible alternatives to dating me, with an eye towards seeing the correlation between her answer and the rest of the class’s opinion. Here are the results:

QUESTION: For each alternative below, tell me whether you would rather do the alternative or date Daylin.

I’d Rather … than date Daylin——–Renee’s Answer——Class Answer %

1. Date a dead person———————–Yes——————————–100%

2. Bathe in skunk Juice——————–Oh God yes, a no brainer——–100%

3. Run, full speed, into a door knob—-Just point me and yell “go.”——-100%

4. Eat only egg salad forever——————Yummy————————–100%

5. Loofa Shaquille O’Neil————————Definitely————————93%

As you can see, there is a high correlation, but not a perfect correlation between Renee’s answers and the class’s attitudes. It turns out one girl preferred dating me to loofaing Shaquille O’Neil. And this girl could not be accounted for by simply polling Renee Tewilliger. Thus polls are imperfect. (It turns out that the one girl, Molly Haberstumpf, would not actually rather date me than loofa Shaquille O’Neil. She just misunderstood the term “loofa” and was momentarily intimidated. Thus the poll actually was perfect. But the point remains, polls are imperfect.)

But as imperfect as they are, polls are still useful. They give you a general sense of what the voters are feeling. They tell you when to emphasize education and when to emphasize the excellent vacation package you plan to vote yourself. It tells you when your speech on health care is getting through to the voters, and when your Marilyn Manson impersonation is not. So we’re off to do another poll. We’d decided to find out if the voters would rather vote for me, or loofa Shaquille O’Neil.

Love,
Daylin

Howdy!

There are many elements to a successful political campaign, or so I’m told. There are TV ads, direct mail, bumper stickers, photos of your opponent with a goat, etc. All of these things contribute to getting the message out, whether the message is “I’m for a tax cut,” or “I’ll support public education,” or “Look, my opponent is with a goat!”

One of the things we did during the special election was what we call “targeted mail.” This is where the campaign targets a specific group of individuals, whether by profession, ethnicity, or some other shared trait. We then try to find a person that those in the targeted group would respect, listen to, or are deathly afraid of. That person then signs a letter to the group, and the votes just fly in.

Last time, we sent targeted letters to such groups as Orthodontists, cross-dressers and Buddhists (you’d be amazed at the overlap). But this time, we plan to get far more specific. Below are a few of the targeted letters we’ve written, and the people we hope to get to sign them:

Dear Fellow Eskimo:

I am writing to urge you to support Daylin Leach. I can personally attest that Daylin is very supportive on blubber issues, and he looks damn good in a pelt. Beyond that, when he leaves my igloo after a couple of beers, the snow is always white in the morning, if ya know what I’m saying.

Very Truly Yours,
Nanook
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Mohicans:

Well, I guess it’s just you and me Uncas. This Daylin guy called and
asked me to Rally all the Mohicans. So…uh…I guess I’m done.

Sincerely,
Chingachgook
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Member, Susceptible-to-Reverse-Psychology League:

Don’t vote for Daylin. He’s a weasel.

Maybe I’m Not:
Dr. Milton Weintraub

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Non-Deaf Voter:

Vote for Daylin or I’ll put another album out.

I mean it;
Celine Dion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Member, Shakespeare Appreciation Society:

Forsooth!! Harken!!! To vote or not to vote, that is the question. But
behold not Leach’s countenance confused or wardrobe odd. For if you
cut him, does he not bleed? If you leave your shrimp unattended at dinner, does he not eat them? Yes, it is true that a Doofus by any other name would be as doofetic, but if all the world’s a stage, and we are merely players, wouldn’t it be better if Leach were strutting his hour on the stage and signifying nothing in Harrisburg, rather than locally?

Your liege:
Buster “The Bard” Kowalksi
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Fellow Psychologist:

Oh come on! We’ve got to elect this guy!! Imagine the endless dissertation topics coming out of this. “How the insane govern,” “Can a Narcissist get a Committee Chairmanship?,” “I’m OK, You’re OK, my legislator’s a wacko,” “People Who Vote on Legislation in a Sun Dress, and the Women who Love Them.” It just goes on and on. This is an opportunity we can’t pass up.

Sam “I like my mother just fine, thank you
very much” Goldwyn, Ph.D.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Fellow Menonite:

Lately many of us have felt that we have not been heard in Harrisburg. There has been far to much attention paid to things like education, health care, and crime, and not nearly enough paid to things like horse-shoein, whittlin’ and subsidies for shoe-fly pie. But I know Daylin. And if there’s one thing Daylin can relate to, it’s a man in a buggy. So on election day, in between the 8:00
butter-churnin’ and the 10:15 begettin’, stop on down to the polls.

Yours Always;
Hezidiah “Puffy” Stoltzfuss

Of course, we can’t think of everybody. So if you are so inclined, please feel free to write a letter to any group that you are a member of. Below is a sample, prewritten letter that you can just fill in the blanks and send.

Dear Fellow ____________:

I have known Daylin Leach for _______, although it seems like it’s been ___________________________________, or even longer.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to urge you to vote for Daylin. No, seriously. I know he sometimes acts like a _________. But he has his good qualities as well. Once, I saw him climb a tree on his property to retrieve a little boy’s kite. Although he did say he would kick the _________ out of the little boy if he let it happen again.

Daylin is committed to providing good public schools, as well as encouraging ________, _________, and ________, or at least fighting to make them legal. Daylin is hard working when he’s not on the _________, and is certainly smarter than ___________ W. ______. Remember, vote Daylin on November 5.

Love,
__________ “The Refrigerator” _________

Love,
Daylin

owdy

Every once in a while C-SPAN runs a series that keeps America glued to their TVs. Their special on unicameral legislatures, for example, outdrew the Super Bowl, and it’s 8 part series entitled “Nader in the Tub” was the first show in the history of television to have a 100 share. If you’re water cooler is like mine, people are still talking about their mini-series on “Why Communists in Antartica are Largely Ignored.”

Recently, C-SPAN aired another blockbuster. This was a 43 part special on the Presidents of the United States (they did Cleveland twice). Each day they took a 4 hour look at a different administration. I really liked the series. The show on Zachary Taylor made me want to become a Whig. My wife said, “You already are a Whig.”

The show I liked the best was the one on William Henry Harrison. Students of history will know that WHH (OK, not as catchy as JFK) gave a 90 minute speech without a coat on inauguration day, caught pneumonia, and died 30 days later. Yet C-SPAN bravely gave him his full 4 hours. Counting only the time he was conscious, that was longer than his actual administration. It’s hard to believe they could fill 4 hours of airtime, but it was actually a fascinating discussion. Below is a transcript of it.

Brian Lamb
OK, we’re here to review the administration
of William Henry Harrison.

Michael Beschloss
Who?

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
Harrison was born in 1773, was a congressman
and a Senator from Ohio, and defeated Martin
Van Buren in the 1840 Presidential election. He then
died.

Pause

Another Pause

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
Oh…and his wife was named Anna Tuthil Symes.

The clock ticks. Every second or so. Then it tocks.

Brian Lamb
Uh…What would you say was Harrison’s agenda?

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
Well it changed. During the election, Harrison talked
mostly about lowering tariffs and opening trade routes
to Mexico.

Brian Lamb
And after the election?

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
Well then his focus shifted more to things like trying
to get out of bed, and holding his urine.

Brian Lamb
Well, Harrison’s big speech was obviously his
inaugural address. Any memorable lines.

Haynes “Little Girl” Johnson
Well, the last line proved to be very prescient.

Brian Lamb
What was that line?

Haynes “Little Girl” Johnson
“I think I’m getting a sniffle.”

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
He sure could talk.

Michael Becshloss
Who?

People breathed in, and breathed out.

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
Anyone see “Three’s Company” recently?

Haynes “Little Girl” Johnson
I never miss an episode! Did you see when Chrissy
thought Jack was dating Janet?

Brian Lamb
Now come on!! We need to keep this on topic.
We’re talking about William Henry Harrison! Now
Doris, you must know some interesting fact about
our ninth president.

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
You bastard!

Brian Lamb
What?

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
That was my interesting fact. That he was our ninth
president.

Haynes “Little Girl” Johnson
Uh…I bet he liked corn.

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
I bet you’re right. Corn, and pleasant tasting foods
generally.

Time Stands Still.

Haynes “Little Girl” Johnson
…Plus, many people don’t know he was not a unicorn.

Brian Lamb
Jesus Christ! I think everyone knows he was not a
unicorn!

Haynes “Buckshot” Johnson
Look, I’m trying here!

Brian Lamb
Doris, what do you think his legacy will be?

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
Overcoats.

Brian Lamb
What?

Doris Kearns “Cha-Cha” Goodwin
People are much more likely now to wear
overcoats when it’s cold.

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
How much longer Brian?

Brian Lamb
Three hours and forty-five minutes.

Dreadful pause

Douglas “Cucumber” Brinkley
Well I for one loved the man. And
in mourning of his passing, I think we should observe
3 hours and 45 minutes of silence, ya know…to
remember our beloved president, William Henry
Harrison!

Michael Beschloss
Who?

Then came almost 4 hours of silence. Mostly the panel took naps, although Beschloss read “US” magazine. I watched the first 3 hours or so, then got bored. But I came away knowing so much more about WHH then I ever did before, like him liking corn, etc. I can hardly wait for the 4 week expose on 18th Century Mayors of Cincinnati.

Howdy!

People ask me what my favorite part of my recently completed political campaign was. Well, to be honest, other than demanding a recount, the best part of the campaign had to be the campaign songs.

Campaign songs have a rich tradition in American politics. The first well-known campaign song was the 1788 classic “I’m Votin’ for the Man on the Dollar Bill.” This song was so successful that in 1796, John Adams attempted to appropriate “I’m Votin’ for the Man on the Dollar Bill” as his campaign song, until someone pointed out that Mr. Adams wasn’t actually on the dollar bill. Not all the campaign songs were positive. The 1800 Adams campaign was often heard humming the anti-Jefferson song “Tommy Wears a Dress.” However, that became a pro-Jefferson song when it became clear that Adams had dramatically misjudged the mood of the public on that issue.

Soon other musical styles started appearing in political songs. Lincoln did well with his polka version of “Uppa Douglas’ Arse,” and George W. Bush had great success with his Latin-tinged “El-Presidente es muy stupido.” Although no campaign song was as popular as Chester Arthur’s beer-house ditty “Mutton-Chops Ya!”

Our campaign had a number of hurdles to overcome. There was the huge Republican registration advantage, the fact that we were going to be outspent 3-1, and…well…me as the candidate. We knew we needed a catchy song. I was asked to take a few days, think about what was really important to me, and try to write a song which reflected that. I came up with a few ideas for songs, such as:

= Let’s tax tax tax tax the night away!

= I ain’t from here.

= Set ’em Free (ballad of criminal law reform)

= The long road to sober

= They picked who???

= Satan on my side

= Reform this…

= Who are all those voices in my head?

= The shame of my past.

After a very short discussion, it was decided that we would let someone else write the campaign song. I would focus on doing what was most important for the campaign: staying out of sight and issuing denials. But I think the voters want to hear what I’m all about, and they want to hear it with Banjo music in the background. So as I gear up for re-election, I thought I’d start working on some campaign haikus.

Let’s all vote Daylin
unregistered, underage
we’re just not picky

For the Fundraiser
Lets get someone whose washed-up
Maybe Fabio

An idea has come
for a great bumper sticker:
This Leach doesn’t suck!

Maybe now that I’ve demonstrated my creative dexterity, my campaign team will once again let me take a crack at a campaign song, and maybe even do other things I’ve been banned from doing, like “meeting voters,” and “leaving my room.”

Howdy!

Well, we lost in a squeaker. By 273 votes out, or about 2%. Although we beat the expectations of those who thought I’d lose big, and dramatically exceeded the expectations of many who thought I’d lose unanimously. The good news is that I won the new district I would be running in, in November after reapportionment kicks in. Not bad, considering the district has 11,000 more Republicans than Democrats, we were outspent 3-1, and I spent much of the ’80’s going by the name “Phyllis Rubenstone.”

Earlier on election day, I sat down to write 3 speeches: a victory speech, a concession speech, and a speech to give in the event of an exact tie. The last speech was my longest and best. The victory speech was mostly a list of people who had my opponent’s lawn signs up, with the words “screw you” after each one. (“Hey Mr. Johnson, Screw you!…Hey Mrs. Goldfarb, Screw Your too!…etc.”) The concession speech was trickier. I wanted it to be eloquent, yet pointed. It had to be concise and pithy, yet drone on and on endlessly. I wanted it to be easily understood, but I was adamant about delivering it entirely in Farsi.

One thing I knew for sure. I wanted it to start with the words of my favorite Lincoln speech, the Gettysburg Address.

“Four score and seven years ago…”

Of course, he got to continue with that gibberish about our fathers bringing forth, on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty…yada yada yada. Nothing all that cool happened 87 years ago today. But as I started writing, I was confident I could find something to work with.

“Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers
imported the first pomegranate…”

Ok, could use a little work…I KNOW!!

“Four score and seven years ago, the Pittsburgh
Pirates obtained the rights to second baseman
Dexter Hornsby…”

I felt that this too could use some tweaking. In any event, as I contemplate making a second run in November, in a much friendlier district, where many more people will vote due to the Governor’s race, I look back and reflect on what I’ve learned in the past 8 weeks. I’ve learned that people are always thrilled to see the candidate at their door, at least until the candidate asks if he can have some cheese whiz and watch the Spice Channel on their couch for a while.

I’ve learned that hard work beats lots of money every time. And I’ve learned to tell convincing lies, like the one about hard working beating lots of money. I’ve learned that you can get a lot of support from your neighbors, particularly if they feel this might mean a move to Harrisburg for you. I was particularly touched by one of my next-door neighbor’s lawn signs: “Send Daylin to Harrisburg, for the Love of God!” I’ve learned that promising to raise taxes “out the Wazoo” is not a great applause line.

As I entered McShae’s, where our post-election party was being held, I mounted the stage to console our loyal supports, and the waiters, who know how Democrats tip. I looked out at the sea of faces, looking for words of comfort for today, and inspiration for tomorrow. This was a crucial moment for me. A hush fell over the room. I clenched my jaw, bit my lip, and began, slowly but deliberately, to speak:

“Four score and seven years ago, the advertising
world first saw a little man it came to know as the
‘Frito Bandito…'”

Love,
Daylin

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