Sunday, November 19, 2000

TV gridlock

Perpetual campaign

        On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was interviewing himself about pregnant chads.

        MATTHEWS: “Tell me what you think about this vote-counting thing in Palm Beach County where Democrats are inspecting hanging scraps of paper in punch-card ballots to read voters' minds and find enough votes for Gore if the courts allow that in Florida which is the long and pointy state that leads the nation in shuffleboard, orange juice and Viagra prescriptions.”

        GUEST: “Well, I --”

        MATTHEWS: “Let me tell you what you think. You think that when Republicans rely on principle and the law, put your money on the Democrats . . .”

        On Fox, some Republican who looked like a raccoon caught with his head in a garbage can was hopelessly struggling to wedge a word in sideways as Florida Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Annoying, was perfecting the tactic invented by 3-year-olds, who cover their ears and make loud “Blah, Blah, Blah” noises to drown out any interruption or criticism.

        And on CNN, Larry King was hosting a panel of has-been senators from the “I Believe Anita Hill Alumni Association,” who blithered about all the great things the nation is learning from the Twilight Zone Election, such as the capital of Florida. (For voters in Palm Beach County, it's Tallahassee, a Seminole word for “Swamp infested by carnivorous lawyers.”)

        Oh, yeah. We've learned a lot. We've learned that Florida has been annexed by New Yorkers like Mr. Deutch. When did that happen? Can we re-vote on it? We've learned that there is no national crisis that cannot be made worse by that shameless self-promoter the Rev. Jesse Jackson. We've learned that there has been election fraud in Cheeseland, including Wisconsin college students who voted more often than they go to class, and the wealthy New York “Ordinary Park Avenue Matron” in a fur coat and Heisman Trophy gold jewelry who bribed Gore votes from homeless people in Milwaukee by handing out cigarettes. Now there's a creative new definition of the tobacco settlement. We've learned that “law” is the root word for “lawyers” the way “politics” is the root word for “pollution.”

        And I learned that nobody can stand more than two hours' cable-TV “breaking news” about the Perpetual Campaign without heavy medication. In desperation, I turned to the back of my TV guide to find out when it would end. I got as far as November, 2003 - two years from now - before I ran out of pages. What I found was disturbing:

        60 Minutes: Attorney General Janet Reno defends her latest decision to block an investigation into voter fraud and illegal campaign contributions to the 1996-2008 Gore Campaign and Election Litigation Fund. George W. Bush contests the latest hand-recounts of bamboo ballots in Guam's heavily Democratic precincts.

        ESPN: A replay of the dramatic 2002 World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds. In Game 11, New York comes from behind to win the first World Series extended by litigation. Introduced by Yankees MVP Alan Dershowitz.

        Connivers: A dozen South Florida residents remain trapped in a Michigan basement. The first to follow arrows leading upstairs wins $1 million. This episode begins the third season.

        East Wing: Starring Bill Clinton as the skirt-chasing, loveable-rogue ex-president, who is married to a New York senator. In this episode, the president's wife (Rosie O'Donnell) tries to block a Supreme Court lawsuit that will allow him to seek a third term and run against her for the presidency.

        Hardball: Chris Matthews interviews Chris Ma thews about the latest twist in the continuing court battle to determine a winner in the 2000 presidential election. Special guests: Interim Temporary Co-Presidents Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.


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