Several months ago, I asked the question: Who should be our next president? Should we elect yet another member of what future historians, looking back on late-20th-Century American political leadership, will refer to as ``The Long String of Bozos''? Or should we have the courage and wisdom to boldly change course and place the future of our great nation - and, yes, the world - into the capable, experienced hands of a professional humor columnist?
Imagine how totally shocked and surprised I was when many of you wrote to me, sometimes in crayon, and said: ``Our next president should, be YOU, Dave! You have the vision! You have the leadership! You have the large quantity of bumper stickers left over from your historic 1995 campaign (official slogan: `It's Time We Demanded Less')!''
Many of you even went so far as to send in contributions. Granted, a lot of these were in the form of expired pizza coupons, but some of them were actual U.S. currency, or realistic photocopies thereof. I asked my staff, Judi Smith, for a report on my current campaign treasury, which, in accordance with federal election laws, is kept in a box that originally contained a Nerf Ping-Pong set. I'm proud to report that we currently have either $78.32 or $98.32, depending on the legal status of a $20 bill that, in the words of my staff, ``looks real but who knows.''
You can call me a modest yet courageous man of the people such as the late Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Makes a Really Sappy Movie if you want, but when I think of ordinary citizens taking the time to send in their hard-earned money for my campaign, my reaction, in all humility and gratitude, is: ``That is nowhere NEAR enough.'' Because to run the kind of quality campaign that I would want - the kind that features large rental jets - I'm going to need at least $40 million.
How will I get that kind of money? I'll tell you how I WON'T get it: I won't go to the ``fat cat'' special-interest lobbyists who give you a donation and then expect you to give them a quid pro quo when you get into the Oval Office. Why do I say this? Because I have no idea what ``quid pro quo'' means. It sounds like a sex act. And I believe the president of this great nation has NO BUSINESS doing that kind of thing with lobbyists. That's why we have interns!
No, seriously, I believe it's a disgrace for the president to have sex with ANYBODY in the Oval Office. If somebody suggests it, the president should have the integrity to answer: ``Not here! This is a sacred shrine of the republic! Let's go out on the lawn!''
But getting back to my point: You may rest assured that I am NOT going to raise money by selling my soul to the special interests. Instead, I'm going to raise money by selling nuclear secrets to China. Apparently the Chinese pay top dollar for nuclear information, and I happen to have come into possession - please do not ask how - of a high-tech computer item called the ``Microsoft Bookshelf 95 CD-ROM'' containing billions of tiny things of information, including many explicit facts about nuclear energy. Here's a sample: ``Nuclear fission was discovered in 1938 by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman, and was explained in 1939 by Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch.'' So apparently, one of the keys to nuclear energy is that at least one person involved has to be named ``Otto.'' This may explain why the Chinese are having so much trouble with it. I have a LOT more nuclear information where that came from, and if you high-level Chinese leaders out there are interested in obtaining it, please have your agents get in touch with me and identify themselves via the following code phrase: ``Dave, here's a suitcase full of money.''
Let me stress that I have not yet decided whether I'm willing to be president. But I have, in the tradition of American politics, appointed an Exploratory Committee to explore this question. The committee consists of these distinguished Americans: Heloise, who writes ``Hints from Heloise'' and with whom I have exchanged several nice letters; Robert Goulet, who for some reason, probably mistaken identity, sends me a Christmas card every year; the Delaware Destroyers, who also send me a Christmas card and are the backup band for George Thorogood, who sings Bad to the Bone; Adam Duritz, who is the lead singer for Counting Crows and with whom I have no connection except that my staffer, a total slut, is hoping she gets to talk to him; and Stanley Krugman, who is my dentist and has for many years advised me on issues relating to my gums.
I have sent these people a letter asking for their honest opinions as to whether I should seek the presidency. When I get their responses, I will carefully weigh each response individually, except the Delaware Destroyers, whom I will weigh as a group. Then, after throwing away the responses I disagree with, I will announce my decision to you, the American people. Let us all hope that I do the right thing. But let us not hold our breath.
© 1999 Dave Barry
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