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The Battle for the future of something or other...

What a mess, huh? I was up until almost 2 a.m. last night watching election returns. I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to get too involved. I voted last week, and beyond that, I was just going to kick back and let the rest of the people who work in the news sections of the paper scramble, stay up late and ride the high of election madness.

But throughout the night, you couldn’t help but be drawn in. It kept going back and forth. When Florida was announced as one of Gore’s states, I thought he was really going to pull it off. Then, when I went to bed, the Bush camp was celebrating downtown in Austin. I didn’t want to go; it was freezing and raining outside and the idea of that many Republicans jammed into one public space makes me nervous. I had to keep peeking out my window to make sure there wasn’t a committee of Young Republicans in my front yard trying to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service one mailbox at a time.

So I went to bed thinking Bush had pulled it off and that the folks at Saturday Night Live were probably doing cartwheels, but when I woke up this morning, was calling the election too close to call. Too close to call? You’re CNN! You’re supposed to know everything! You knew better than Colin Powell what was going on during the Gulf War and you can’t figure out a Florida election that ended in the earliest time zone?

It’s close. Really, really close.

And however the recount turns out, it’s still going to be contested because you have to factor in absentee ballots and you have to take into account the votes that Buchanan and Nader swung away from Bush and Gore. In essence, it’s a big huge draw and the best argument I can think of for why even though I support one of the candidates far more than the other, the two-party system is made up of two parties that are merging ever closer to the middle.

At the heart of it, though, there are two men who probably have huge egos and one of them will be hurt very badly by the outcome because they were this close to being the leader of the free world!

Clearly, this is no way to end such a close contest. It’s dramatic, but in an election that could have swung either way, we as a country need more resolution. We need closure. So here’s what I propose:



Since Florida is the state that’s so hotly contested, we should send the candidates back to Florida for a series of Olympics-style events designed to determine the winner. Based on their performance in this event, registered voters would get to score the candidates. That way, instead of just a straight yay or nay vote, you get to judge the candidates from 0 to 10. Tabulating those votes would be a bitch, but it would more accurately gauge performance under pressure. Here are some proposed events:

The Florida Senior Citizen Casserole Bake-A-Thon

Each candidate, with no help from their wives, must bake a casserole from scratch. The event would be broadcast into nursing homes where anyone in Florida over the age of 65 would be allowed to rate each candidate. A special jury on site would get to taste the casseroles and rate them. These taste votes would count for 66 percent of the election tally. The rest of the Florida senior citizens would vote based on the broadcast and rate for poise, presentation and length of preparation time.

The Florida Prison Tour and Convict Vote-off

Each candidate would be required to visit three Florida maximum security prisons and explain their policies on crime. Prisoners will get the rare opportunity to vote, although their votes will only count for half of a regular citizen vote. Bush will be allowed extra bodyguards as he explains his Texas policies on capital punishment. Inmates will rate the candidates on toughness, ability to turn a prisoner into a "bitch" should that candidate be incarcerated and on physique. A bonus trivia round will test each candidate’s knowledge of the HBO show Oz.

Florida Policy Competition: Kill the ‘Squitos!

Bush and Gore will each be given a week to assemble a team of advisers, policy makers and scientists to eliminate mosquitoes in Florida once and for all. Each will be called upon to draw up a budget proposal for how they would accomplish this and laboratory evidence that their solution would really work. A panel of mosquito experts would rate each plan and make that information public, allowing citizens to grade the candidates on mosquito elimination.

Samba/Salsa dance-off

I think this one speaks for itself. A celebrity panel including Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Charo and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will judge Gore and Bush based on flexibility (sorry, Al), rhythm, variety of dance moves and a special "Caliente Meter" will gauge audience reaction to the dancing based on how "hot and spicy" each candidate comes across.

Visionary ideas? Perhaps. Bold and a little stupid? Maybe. But I bet Nader would totally go for it.


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