The Good, The Chad And the Ugly

 By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 19, 2000; Page F01

Hello. My name is Tony. I'm an electionaholic. And I have a confession to make:

God help me, I don't want this to end.

I love the smell of churning chads in the morning.

The hanging chads. The dimpled chads. The pregnant chads.

(Sigh. All this talk about Chad, and none about Jeremy.)

Chads are a sore point for my friend, the brilliant comic writer, Norman Chad.
"There's a pregnant Chad?" he asked in horror.
"It's not mine. I never touched her. I'll take a blood test."

Imagine my delight that my desire to prolong the election puts me at odds with James Baker,
who insisted from the start that the election must be certified now, this very moment,
"for the good of the American people." Of course, by the American people Baker means himself,
the Bush family and the membership at River Oaks Country Club in Houston.

But what's the rush? Is Baker afraid that if the deadlock goes on much longer, his boy will get tired
of filling his imaginary Cabinet and move on to other imaginary activities, like getting all the way to
$300 on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" without using a lifeline?

But admit it, you'll miss Baker when he's gone. The country will be in far worse shape when this
whole mess is over and Baker, Warren Christopher and Florida's Secretary of State Cruella De Vil
are off the air. We'll all have to go back to watching "The Michael Richards Show." That show is
enough to make you take the ballot puncher to your own eyeballs.

I love watching Baker's briefings. Since he stopped being secretary of state, I'd forgotten how
commanding he can be. You can almost see the steam rising off his head every time he's forced
to once again explain exactly how the world should function. "Hello? Hello? Don't you people get it?
If we actually counted all your votes, we'd lose."

Baker, at least, cuts a powerful figure. Warren Christopher, on the other hand--what happened to this guy?
He appears to be melting. And what is he talking about? Every time any Florida court has ruled against the
Democrats, Christopher says it's a great thing for Al Gore. If the Florida Supreme Court had said Gore
wouldn't get a recount even if he crawled through the Everglades muck on his hands and knees,
Christopher would have gleefully announced, "Florida justice obviously supports the vice president's
environmental initiatives." (Tell the truth, in those natty British suits don't Christopher and Baker look
like aging actors doing "The Importance of Being Earnest" at a dinner theater?)

I had to smile when Christopher mentioned he'd "run into Baker at breakfast the other day."
How great is it that these patricians are stuck in the same motel in Tallahassee, a place where
a "gated community" is a trailer park surrounded by razor wire! Normally, Warren Christopher
and James A. Baker III wouldn't be caught dead in Tallahassee, and now they're fighting over
cold rubber French toast at the Motel 6 breakfast buffet.

Not since the O.J. trial have we had this kind of continuous boffo tort TV. Jeffrey Toobin!
Dan Abrams! Soul Sister No. 1, Doris Kearns Goodwin! And wall-to-wall Greta Van Susteren!
They're swooning at Harvard Law School, fainting at Yale.

And how about my man William "You Want a Piece of Me?" Daley, who I couldn't help but notice
has a head that could float above Fifth Avenue on Thanksgiving Day. What I like most about Daley
is that he remains unimpressed with the fact that George Bush's daddy was the president, because
his daddy was The Boss. (That's right, his real name is William Springsteen.) When Daley gives
a briefing it's all he can do to stop from slugging everyone in the room. I mean, everything about
this guy screams, "Don't [mess] with me, pal, I'll plant you like a tulip bulb." When this is over
Daley is going straight to "The Sopranos."

For days, Al "Mulligan" Gore and George "Jeb, You Promised" Bush almost disappeared.
(If they could have just kept it up for four years, the problem would have been solved.)
Gore was seen transparently pandering to Camelot nostalgia by playing touch football with
his family. Bush spent time on his Texas ranch with his dog Spot. Yes, Spot. The dog is
actually spotted, so there doesn't appear to be any saving irony. It's altogether possible
Bush actually thought about a name for the dog and came up with Spot!
Do you believe this guy?

The two finally did speak up midweek. When Gore offered to meet Bush, he was so
geeked up  his head kept bouncing around on his neck, like one of those dashboard dolls.
Later, Bush turned Gore down and insisted on no more recounts. Did someone say snippy?
Bush gives more snip than a vasectomy clinic.

We should hand Bush this, though: The guy can really wear jeans and a suede ranch jacket.
He's exactly what our president should look like. But as one of my wickedly funny friends
says about George W. rather than Jeb running for president,
"It's like Don Corleone picked Fredo over Michael."

But the real star of the show has been Florida's Ballot Babe, Katherine Harris,
the Junior League Blind Date From Hell!

In an arena chock full of secretaries of state, Harris is the one who appears to have been lost
in the woods as a baby and raised by Tammy Faye Bakker. I don't want to say Harris wears
a lot of eye shadow, but it looks like she's applied enough paint to refinish the Wilson Bridge.
How does she put it on? Fire hose?

Harris is the one who carefully considered the written requests to conduct hand recounts--or would
have carefully considered them if she hadn't already fed them to wild goats. When Gore campaign
officials suggested she was acting as a Bush partisan, her measured response, as a responsible
public official, was, in its entirety, "Bite me."

In politics they call this "respecting the will of the people."

In Chad they call it "Must-See TV."

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