One Won 

But don't ask Bill who

You see the problem here, don't you? It's the day after and there's only one thing on your minds. This very moment, half of you are as pleased as a litter of puppies drowsing off at their momma's nipples, and the other half are wondering how the Canadian job market's doing these days.

Trouble is, I don't know which is which. I don't know whether to celebrate how wonderfully wise the American electorate is, or bemoan how damned dumb they are. I don't know whether to dance in the streets or kick a hole in the sheet rock. Whatever I might say about the results from yesterday--which is still several days away in Columnist Standard Time--runs a 50-50 chance of being wrong. That's the problem with writing for a publication that comes out the day after elections. As I prepare this morning's column, I can't congratulate anyone. I can't console anyone. I can't say things are going to be better. Or worse. I can't write happy and I can't write sad. If I were a teevee station, I'd just run an old Adam Sandler movie to fill the time, and resume regular programming next week.

But like it or not, I've got another 800-or-so more words to go which will have nothing to do with who won the election, why he won it, or what his victory means for America's future. In fact, once you figure out this column says zilch about who was chosen 12 hours ago to be the most powerful person on Earth, you'll likely skip the rest and switch on Chris Matthews or Bill O'Reilly or some other blowhard who can tell you in real-time what you should be feeling right now.

So what I think I'll do here (since I don't expect to have any readers left anyway) is run an Ask Bill advice column. The letter came to me in the heat of the campaign but I ignored it at the time because I felt there were much more urgent matters to be addressed. It concerns the past election, yes, but I feel it is equally relevant to all elections yet to come. And besides, it's as close to an old Adam Sandler movie as I can get.

Hey Cope Dude,

Debates suck, man! I just finished watching all three of those Carry Bushster debates in a row cause in prime time I always hang with my homeys down at Suds so I recorded m all on one disc so's I could skip classes this morning and watch m doggy style cause you old school dudes r always say us MTV-geners need to get hip to presidents and politics and shit like that. So damn straight me and my homeys got all registered up and we be gonna vote like a bitch! YEAH! But those debates SUCK, man! I had to snort Starbucks to stay awake! And what is social security anyway? We already got homeyland security, so how many of them securities we need? And both those dudes r just phonies you could tell. They just made up all that stuff they said. You could tell. It r like listening to my Bizz Ethics prof down at the U. So how you old school dudes expect dudes like me and my homeys can pay attention when all they do is stand there like Dawn of Deadsters and blah de blah blah those lame questions? Who cares about prescription drugs man!? I want to know why Camels cost so much!! What you old school dudes need to do is make Carry and the Bushster go to that Irack hood and see who can get EXTREME!!! What I want to know is do they kick ass? What they got for wheels man? Can they slam Cuervo and then climb the WALL? Who's got the best tats man? Who ROCKS, that's what I want to know. I think Vin Diesel should be president. Vin ROCKS! YEAH!

--M&M Dog Dog and 38 co-signers from Suds

Dear Mr. Dog Dog,

You raise an interesting point. If I may be allowed to express your concerns in a more old school manner: 1) you feel the debates and the issues discussed therein are largely irrelevant to you and your circle of young friends, and 2) formal debates are an ineffectual method of exposing what sort of person we are being asked to chose as our leader. Have I got it about right?

You are wrong, homey, but you are also right. For those of us old school enough to know what Social Security is, the debates are a valuable means of cutting through the clamor and smog of months of 30-second ads, abbreviated sound-bites and unremitting spin that mark a modern presidential campaign. As far as I'm concerned, any individual who wishes to be our president should be required to participate in a televised debate once a week, every week from the moment the nominees are confirmed up until the day before elections are held. I realize this would be as boring to you as a month with your grandparents, but as you will soon learn, the more important something is, the more boring hearing about it is likely to be. And given the inherent gravity of selecting an individual in whose hands will reside the fate and fortunes of virtually the entire planet, I believe citizens should be as diligent in their selection as possible. Truly, if it takes Donald Trump 18 or 20 episodes to decide upon who's the best person to bring him coffee, is it too much to ask that we Americans suffer through a dozen or more debates to decide upon the best person to administer the nation?

But you're absolutely right about debates being a lousy way to see into the candidates' souls. Feeling out the man beneath the power tie from nothing but a series of controlled encounters is as useless as trying to figure out an evangelical from what he says on Sunday morning. Frankly, dude, I see nothing wrong with involving our hearts in the decision along with our heads, but everything about a political campaign seems designed to hide the real person from the voting public. We need a better way.

Fortunately, modern technology has provided an answer: web cams. I propose that prior to a scheduled election, we wire the candidates up and open their lives to the public for an agreed-upon interval. Two solid weeks, 24/7, ought to do the trick. Web cams on the campaign buses, on Air Force One, backstage before and after their appearances, in their homes, in their bedrooms ... hell, even in their bathrooms. What have they got to hide, I ask. And if they truly are normal people like they want us to believe, they have everything to gain. For instance, was not John Kerry at his finest when he was caught saying, "This is the biggest bunch of crooks I've ever seen" in an unrehearsed moment?

I know it can be done. I've been following the adventures of an enterprising young lady on my Internet connection, and if it works for Missy Christy Cream, it can work for presidential contenders

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