BY DAVE BARRY
AS WE, THE American people, approach the new millennium, we
face many troubling questions. One is: How can we, as a nation, be
sure that we have spelled ``millennium'' correctly? The easiest way is
to remember the old poem that we were all taught back in elementary
Two n's and two l's
You've spelled it quite well
One l or one n
You're a big fat stupid hen
But an even bigger question facing us, in the year 2000 before the
millennium, is: Can we, as a nation, get past the divisiveness, the
bitterness, the sliminess -- in short, the Jerry-Springer-ness that
plagued us throughout 1998? It will not be easy. The American public
is still deeply divided, according to a recent Gallup Poll showing that:
72 percent of the public agrees with the statement, ``President
Clinton has been punished enough.''
71 percent of the public agrees with the statement, ``President
Clinton has not been punished enough.''
73 percent of the public agrees with the statement, ``The Grand
Canyon was created by a race of fierce, prune-eating hamsters from
These poll results remind us, as if we needed reminding, that the
public cannot be trusted to decide any issue more complex than ``eat
in'' vs. ``take out.'' That is why we need leadership, defined, in the
United States Constitution, as ``white men in dark suits, and possibly
Elizabeth Dole.'' Even as you read these words, such men are gearing
up for the 2000 presidential campaign -- a campaign that promises to
deliver all the drama and high-voltage, spine-tingling excitement that is
evoked by the phrase ``Lamar Alexander.''
That's right: Lamar -- a man who lights up a room the way a Zippo
lights up Mammoth Cave -- is one of the leading Republicans now
``testing the waters.'' Other potential GOP timbers include George
Herbert Walker Thurston Crumpet Bush Jr., Steve ``51 Years
Without Blinking'' Forbes, somebody named ``John'' and the late
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the big news is the official
formation of a campaign organization for -- get ready -- Al Gore. This
should come as a big surprise to anybody who has spent his or her
entire life locked inside a meat freezer, because Al has basically been
running for president since he emerged from the womb, clutching, in
his tiny hand, a position paper on breast-feeding. Al's biggest
drawback is that he appears stiff in public, to the point at which
sometimes, when he's carrying out his primary constitutional duty as
vice president -- which is to stand behind the president and look
earnest while the president issues his daily apology to the nation -- Al
will look down and see beavers gnawing on his shins.
Al's main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination is former
Sen. Bill Bradley, a man who, in terms of his ability to fire up a
crowd, makes Al look like K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Other
leading Democrats testing the waters include Gary ``Why Not?'' Hart,
somebody named ``John,'' and Dick Gephardt, who has had over
600 gallons of Rogaine injected into his forehead in a
so-far-unsuccessful attempt to grow eyebrows.
So there you have the main contenders in the upcoming presidential
race, a.k.a. CharismaFest 2000. Over the next year, each of these
men will try to develop a Vision For the Future, defined as ``around
$40 million in cash.'' They will use some of this vision to pay for polls
so they can find out what their views are; they will use the rest for TV
commercials explaining these views in terms that are understandable
to the average American voter or cocker spaniel (``Vote for John.
You like John. John have same views as you. See John with family!
See John wear dark suit! John very good. Other man very bad.
AT THIS point the question that is on your mind, if you care about
the future of this nation, is: ``Wouldn't `The Fierce Prune-Eating
Hamsters from Space' be an excellent name for a rock band?'' I think
we can all agree that it would. I think we can also agree that America
desperately needs a new kind of presidential candidate -- not another
droning, wingtipped, intern-groping, lip-biting, political clone who
can't burp without putting out a press release; but a normal person, a
regular guy, a plain-talking ``Joe Sixpack'' type of individual who has
spent his life working in the REAL world, developing honest calluses
on his hands and honest sweat stains in both of his armpits from toiling
away at the harsh, sometimes brutal, but vitally necessary job of
producing one humor column per week.
Does such a person exist? To answer that question, in the next few
months I will personally conduct an intensive nationwide search,
traveling, if necessary, to all four corners of my office. Let us hope, as
Americans, that I find this unique individual; and let us further hope
that, if I do find him, I can persuade him to run for president and
accept our contributions, preferably in cash. I will keep you posted on
my efforts, so you should monitor this space. Remember: Dave.