Analyzing G.A.G. 

Covering coverage

Mr. Cope,

I apologize for the snail-mail, but we here at the G.A.G. Media Group have tried to contact you via e-mail several times. Evidently your server is down, as you have not e-mailed back. Nor have you responded to the six voice mails I personally left on your office's answering machine, so we suspect your entire system may have a virus or something. We would be happy to let you borrow our tech-support person for an afternoon, if for no other reason than to make sure you have everything hooked up properly. Just let me know and we can arrange a day convenient for you.

At any rate, our purpose is to see if you would be interested in joining our election night coverage team (or what we here at G.A.G. Media are proud to call, "The Slickest Four People in Boise") to provide on-air analysis as the votes are tallied and the results come in. We realize you are not a professor of political science, but as we recently have come to learn, every last professor of political science in Southwest Idaho has already been snatched up by other television stations. And now, so close to the election, as an observer of political science, you are about the best we can hope for.

Allow me to explain how we plan to attack this project, Mr. Cope. On election night, we will have one live reporter at each of the party's parties, cornering any candidate who walks by into a brief interview on how he or she thinks his or her race is turning out. We have been preparing those reporters for weeks—training them on how to stick a microphone in someone's face so that the at-home audience can still see the interviewee's mouth move; how to ask questions that nobody could possibly know the answer to just four minutes after the polls close; how to pronounce "Kuna" correctly ... that sort of thing.

Back at the studio, Scooter and Dottie will be stationed at the G.A.G. News Desk, co-anchoring our coverage. They are both consummate pros, so when either of them breaks in to announce, "That was Luanne Pinksly reporting from Democratic headquarters," or "That was Jenny Lajeune reporting from Republican headquarters," you'll know they mean it.

Your part in this, should you agree, would be simple. You will be seated at the far end of the G.A.G. news desk, which is being buffed to a high sheen even as I write this. Approximately once every seven minutes, Scooter or Dottie will turn in your direction and say, "We have Bill Cope with us in the studio to tell us what this all means. Mr. Cope, you heard what Luanne (or Jenny) just reported. What does this mean?"

At which point you might respond in several different ways. You could say, for example, "As you know, Dottie, voters here in Idaho are an independent bunch who are notoriously hard to predict." Or you might say, "Scooter, recent history has shown us that none of the standard patterns apply to the electorate out in _____(fill in blank with name of district, municipality or county as befits the question)."

We could really use you on the team, Mr. Cope. Or if not you, anyone you could suggest who knows Jim Risch from Larry LaRocco when their pictures pop up on the monitor. And should you decide to be a part of the G.A.G. coverage, we can provide you with a corduroy sports coat with leather patches on the elbows so that nobody will know you are not a professor of political science. It is being dry cleaned, even as I write this.

—Rick Dorge Bertvallantz; Human Resources Director/Special Events Producer; G.A.G. Media Group

Dear Rick,

I am sorry for not replying to your e-letters and voice letters. My office's teenager recently moved away to college, and as we have yet to replace her as our in-house tech support department, I have been struggling to figure out these complex doo-hickies like the phone and that Intermesh thingamabob, whatever you call it. I will be contacting that Greek Squad bunch, as soon as I can find an outside line. Luckily for you and for me, I still know how to go to the mail box.

As to your offer, I would be delighted to join you on election night. I have already started to let my beard grow out so that I might come across brainier on television.

I also have started to compile a catalogue of things I can say so that I will never be caught at a loss for words, no matter what your co-anchors might ask. A sampling of what I have so far: "It's interesting you should point that out, Scooter, as A) Bill Sali, B) Walt Minnick, C) _____ (fill in blank with any other candidate's name that might befit the question) is known for A) being B) not being very tight-lipped on this subject."

And: "Dottie, the important thing to remember here is, if this continues to develop in the direction in which it seems to be trending, it could A) change B) not change the basic character of the A) State Legislature B) United States Congress C) Ada County Commission D) Kuna School Board for the foreseeable future.

Then of course, there is always, "This is certainly one race to watch, I can tell you that much."

My office will be contacting you in the near future to confirm the details on matters such as A) how to find your television station in the dark, B) where to park when I get there, C) do I get paid before we go on air, or after, and D) can I drink beer when the cameras aren't on me. (I could pour it into one of your KGAG coffee cups and no one would ever know.)

I would also appreciate your input on which goes best with a leather-patched corduroy jacket: A) a red-and-blue checkered shirt with a bolo tie, or B) a sweater vest with a vee-neck so the open collar shows. To me, either one says "professor of political science," but I would defer to your expertise. (For the bottom half, I am thinking of wearing my best faded blue jeans and cowboy boots, but that may be more English lit-ish than poly-sci-ish. If I can get the Intermesh thingamabob working before then, I will look it up.)

One more thing: Will there be a running vote count display below my head when I am on camera? And will I be able to see it when I'm supposed to be speaking? I hope not. Things like that can make me freeze up like a kid in front of a Japanese cartoon.

I look forward to working with you.

—Bill Cope; Columnist-in-Chief/Office Manager; Offices of Bill Cope

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