“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

pathetically optimistic column written just before the axe came down on the supple neck of our democracy

Well here we are friends. Right on the edge of the cliff looking down. Pretty sure we can jump all the way to the other side, but not COMPLETELY sure. Very soon we could be having a celebration like the “ewok” aliens used to have at the end of the movie RETURN OF THE JEDI before the footage was mysteriously lost under suspicious circumstances. On the other hand we might find ourselves throwing flaming garbage cans, rolling SUVs or, you know, rolling up in a ball in the corner sucking our thumbs. We, as a nation, might have to start drinking again. We might have to fly our asses to Washington to protest the inauguration. Eggs would be in such high demand that protesters would have to start bussing in thousands of free range chickens to pump out enough eggs to catapult at the presidential limo from behind the protest barricade 200 miles away. Hopefully it won’t come to that. No, it won’t come to that. We’re gonna do it.

We’ve come a long fucking way to get to this day. We have journeyed courageously while the economy trickled down from the sky, dripping all around us but somehow never hitting anybody. We have seen the wonders of the world, from the abandoned caves of Afghanistan to the naked butt pyramids of Abu Ghraib. From Enron Field to Halliburtonland. From the plane hitting the fucking Pentagon to Governor Bush getting his ass whooped in all three debates even while wearing a fucking earpiece. And they tell us somehow the race is still close!

(Yeah, I said it. The fucker was wearing an earpiece. And he should be ashamed of himself not coming up with a better story than “poorly tailored shirt.” Okay, so I’ve never had a shirt tailored in my life, but I think I got a pretty good idea what is and isn’t possible in the tailoring of shirts. For example, I think it is NOT possible for a tailor to accidentally sew a large rectangular box into the back of a shirt. If there in fact IS a tailor that bad somewhere in this world, you would think he would not rise to the level of presidential debate shirt tailor. Okay, so these people are completely inept at pretty much everything they’ve ever tried to do. So maybe they’d promote somebody like that. And yeah they’d probaly hire some oil executive to be the tailor and he wouldn’t know what the fuck he was doing. But still man, how do you EVEN sew a large rectangular box into the back of a shirt? Even if you’re trying? I don’t care who you are, that is some BAD god damn tailoring. And if you get that kind of poor service from your tailor, what you do is, YOU DON’T GO ON LIVE INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION AND DEBATE WHILE WEARING IT. I’m supposed to believe this asshole only has one shirt? And even after the first debate, he wore it to the other debates too? Doesn’t it get uncomfortable being up there in the hot lights, trying to answer difficult questions, wearing the most poorly and freakishly tailored shirt in the history of tailoring? And did this preposterously bad tailor at least get a talking to for accidentally reinventing the shape of the human shirt? Or does the lack of accountability we’ve seen with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, everybody, etc. extend all the way down to the White House tailor? What sort of bizarre lump would you have to sew into that shirt to get fired? I mean really, this brings up so many questions. I could go on all night.)

Remember the Y2K scare? We were all worried that some assholes had fucked up programming computers, forgot to put an extra digit somewhere and now our whole society was gonna go Mad Max on us. When the clock struck midnight nothing happened, but I think we really got our Y2K problem later in the year. We thought what we needed was one more digit, what we really needed was one less corrupt Supreme Court judge.

I remember getting my check for two hundred something bucks with a note from the government saying how we got this great tax cut and why don’t you spend it on a DVD player or something. Here ya go kid, go buy yerself some ice cream. And I remember thinking yeah, when the country has gone to shit I’ll be happy and I’ll say hey, at least I got that two hundred something bucks that one time. So I don’t care that my health insurance costs more and does less and my friends got laid off and there are baboons running loose eating children and the city can’t afford enough tranquilizer darts to shoot them all so they’re training wolves to hunt them. I was wrong about the baboons and wolves but otherwise I was actually underestimating. I had no idea how bad it was gonna get. I couldn’t have imagined.

Well who knows what the fuck is gonna happen, so what I’m gonna do here I’m gonna make some guesses and if at least one of them turns out to be right, I am allowed to brag.

1. I think John Kerry is gonna win. The polls have it close, but those are polls of “likely voters.” That means people that have voted in the last couple elections. It doesn’t include the people who haven’t voted in years, or haven’t voted ever before. People who turned 18 since the last election or have always been too apathetic to vote or who didn’t believe in voting because they are disillusioned with the corporate one and a half party system. Think about how many people fall into these categories but have signed up this year SOLELY for the honor and pleasure of throwing that rat fucker out in the cold. There are a LOT of these people.

2. Yeah, obviously, the republicans are gonna cheat. They’re already cheating. But they can’t shred ’em as fast as we can sign ’em up. Unless the fix is in with the computerized voting, hopefully we can take ’em.

3. I think shit is gonna get ugly though. The media is preparing for a long drawn out process, so we won’t get that same shock and confusion that leads to goofy late night fun where the anchors all lose it and start yelling out weird shit about omelettes. What we will get though is people going ape shit at the polls. I think the republicants really will go through with their plan of “challenging” voters who may or may not have forgotten to include an apartment number or a zip code on their registration form, holding things up in heavily democratic districts to make the lines long and force people to go back to work without voting.

I think this is gonna backfire on the assholes though. The blatant racial targeting will not go over well. I think some of the republicant thugs will find that their service earns them more than the $100 the GOP is providing. They will also be provided with free knuckle sandwiches. I am saying there will be scuffles and even riots at polling places. It will be a notorious moment in American history. But it will also be sort of cool.

3.5 Maybe you think I’m being too optimistic here. You remember how fucked up 2000 was and how the bastards got away with it. I know, I know, these guys get away with everything. But what I’m saying is, this isn’t 2000. In 2000 we were comfortable and apathetic. After 8 years of Clinton, only the most hardcore liberals were fully paying attention. We didn’t like Gore and we wanted Ralph allowed in the debates. I remember some assholes saying that if Bush won, it would re-energize the lefties. Well it wasn’t worth it, but it was true. In 2000 we didn’t have moveon.org or True Majority or Air America or Buzzflash or “the blogosphere” (I hate that fucking word). Michael Moore didn’t have hundreds of cameras to Rodney King the polling places with. We didn’t know who the fuck Greg Palast was, now we’re waiting to see what else he’ll be able to dig up. It’s gonna be hard to stop them, but we’re ready.

(Have you noticed how democrats are worried about people who are supposed to be allowed to vote not being allowed to vote, republicants are worried about people who aren’t supposed to be allowed to vote being allowed to vote? Could there ever be a better illustration of what’s wrong with these assholes? We want to protect people’s rights, they want to make sure people don’t get more rights than absolutely necessary.)

4. BLADE 3 will be nominated for best picture

5. Or at least be awesome

6. The lights actually WILL go out at midnight and we will wish we had those water bottles you were supposed to have for Y2K

7. Some asshole on TV, possibly on a cable news network of some kind, will say something really fucking stupid.

8. When Bush loses, they will go live to the republican headquarters for his concession speech. After a long, awkward pause, it will become clear that Bush actually isn’t there. The camera crews will eventually find their way to a restricted hallway where Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Bush Sr. and some guy from NASCAR (in full uniform and helmet) will be standing outside a locked door, trying to coax Bush into coming out. “Come on buddy, we know it’s tough.” Eventually they’ll figure out that Bush actually climbed out the window and took off. For years republicans will speculate on Bush’s whereabouts, imagining a poetic life of mystery and adventure. Rumors will surface on the internet and talk radio that he actually went to Afghanistan to personally fight terrorism and teach women how to read. Within six years he will turn up bloated and dead after a poorly planned fishing trip just off his private resort island near Costa Rica. His body will be sporting a soul patch. New generations of republicans will be taught of a fictional George Bush who spoke in English and accomplished things for our nation. He will be honored, Tupac-style, on airbrushed t-shirts sold at gun shows and in the gift shop at the George Walker Bush Presidential Library. The library will not contain any books, but they do rent Playstation games for pretty cheap, and they have a decent selection.

I don’t know guys. There’s so much I wanted to write about before this election. Like this thing where Bush and his people spend weeks on an argument entirely based on PRETENDING to misunderstand something Kerry said (“global test,” etc.) They can’t come up with anything legitimate so they PRETEND that they are too fucking stupid to understand simple concepts and then spend hours of air time criticizing an argument that nobody ever made, ever. Also I wanted to talk about that big blob of mayo or something that Bush had on his mouth during the third debate. That was funny. And I had a story I wanted to tell about a run-in I had with Naderites, but I don’t really see the point in that now. Instead I will just share with you one thing. A few months ago I read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72. I was surprised how relevant it was to this year’s election. It’s a great book, I highly recommend it although it starts to get boring when it drifts off into verbatim transcripts of discussions with political strategists.

Anyway, there’s a passage I found in there that applies to those few out there still not convinced they should vote for Kerry. Read this here:

There may not be much difference between Democrats and Republicans; I have made that argument myself–with considerable venom, as I recall–over the past ten months. . . . But only a blind geek or a waterhead could miss the difference between McGovern and Richard Nixon. Granted, they are both white men; and both are politicians–but the similarity ends right there, and from that point on the difference is so vast that anybody who can’t see it deserves whatever happens to them if Nixon gets re-elected due to apathy, stupidity and laziness on the part of potential McGovern voters.

He goes on to quote Bobby Kennedy saying, “Richard Nixon represents the dark side of the American Spirit.”

So how does Bush compare to the dark side of the American Spirit? In the new Rolling Stone, Thompson writes, “Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for – but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.”

And it’s true. The virus keeps getting stronger. We can’t take another four years of this shit. We can’t lower the standards even more. We can’t let the world think we approve of what these assholes have been doing. Let’s do this, people. We can do it. Prepare the Ewok song. There’s gonna be drums, dancing and fireworks. There’s gonna be a party tonight

Oh God please please please let me be right

–Vern

p.s. Seriously, PLEASE.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004 at 8:07 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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