Ted Beauvais, a U.S. government employee, who lives in Springfield, Virginia, believes the United States is suffering from “electus interruptus.”
Susan Long, a university professor from Arlington, another Washington suburb, says the U.S. political system has been hit by political “Chadnobyl.”
Both were among the finalists in a Washington Post contest for the sharpest and funniest description of the current post-election fight for the White House between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.
If the seesawing legal battle over Florida’s electoral votes has a silver lining, it is that it has given fodder to thousands of professional and amateur humorists who are having a field day at the candidates’ expense.
“I love messes … I thrive on messes. Messes are good for me,” admitted famous comic actor Jim Carrey, the star of “Ace Ventura, the Pet Detective,” “The Truman Show” and other movies.
Late night television shows, newspapers, radio and the Internet now deliver a seemingly inexhaustible flow of spoofs, jokes and zingers ribbing Bush, Gore, their legal experts, and countless other personalities involved in the surreal manual vote recount in Florida that may determine the outcome of the election.
“Al Gore keeps saying that the will of the people is being repressed. Neither Bush nor Gore won. Now isn’t that the will of the people?” exclaimed David Letterman, the host of a late night comedy show on CBS television.
His long-time rival, Jay Leno, who hosts a competing program on NBC, took aim at the US electoral system, in which the president is chosen by an electoral college rather than popular vote.
“So the guy who actually got the fewer votes wins,” quipped Leno. “Isn’t that what Slobodan Milosevic tried to do in Yugoslavia?”
Not to be outdone, Bill Maher, the host of “Politically Incorrect,” an ABC television show, ridiculed Bush’s perceived poor command of issues, the butt of endless jokes during the election campaign.
“There is a state of confusion and not knowing in America,” he proclaimed. “So I guess the Bush era has begun.”
In the aftermath of the Florida deadlock, some newspapers have published a mock notice from British Queen Elizabeth II revoking US independence for “failure to elect anybody as President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves and, by extension, the free world.”
“Driving on the left is now compulsory,” says the make-believe royal writ, which also orders Hollywood actress Meg Ryan to “report to Prince Andrews’ bedchamber.”
But how to resolve the election tangle that appears to be tighter and more unwieldy with every passing day? Comedians offer a variety of solutions.
Will Farrell and Darrell Hammond, who play respectively Bush and Gore on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” have produced a spoof in which the political rivals become co-presidents, sharing the White House like students in a fraternity.
A caller to National Public Radio said the two candidates, being true gentlemen, should resolve their dispute the way noblemen used to resolve theirs in the 18th century — through a duel.
Pointing to an electoral map, on which states that voted for Bush were painted in red and those choosing Gore in blue, Letterman suggested what he saw as a fair and equitable solution.
“Bush will be the president of the red states and Gore will be president of the blue states,” he said. “It’s over, that’s all!”
In case that scenario didn’t sit well with the candidates, Letterman said Democrats had a contingency plan to snatch victory from Republicans with the help of their secret weapon — President Bill Clinton.
“They are going to send Clinton to Florida to hit on Katherine Harris,” he quipped in a not so veiled reference to Clinton’s successful seduction of Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern.