Dave Barry

Classic ’99: Any complaints, see Vinny — on visiting days

This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, July 4, 1999.

Ever since I declared my candidacy for president of the United States, concerned citizens have been asking me: ``Dave, why don’t you also run for U.S. Senator from New York?’‘

This is tempting. I live in Florida, but apparently New York has very lax residency requirements, such that anybody who has ever changed planes at LaGuardia Airport can run for senator. Exhibit A, of course, is first lady Hillary ``Rod’‘ M. Clinton, who recently developed an intense lifelong commitment to New York, which she demonstrated by putting on a Yankees hat and declaring that she has been ``a huge Yankees fan ever since they won the 1957 Super Bowl.’‘

That is a strong credential, but I have a stronger one: I was actually born and raised in Armonk, N.Y., and after college I worked in New York City for two years, during which I commuted on subway cars containing an estimated 17 million other New Yorkers packed together so tightly that you would sometimes discover, when you got home, that you were wearing somebody else’s underwear. So I know what New York needs: It needs for everybody to wear deodorant. If I were elected senator, I would introduce a law requiring specially trained Armpit Police to patrol the subways armed with high-pressure fire extinguishers full of Right Guard. Also I favor the death penalty for Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton has not even mentioned these issues.

So if New York wants to elect me as senator, fine, but I am not giving up my presidential campaign, which is starting to look highly professional. Not only do I have an official Web site (https://davebarry.com/president/dave2k/) featuring an actual unretouched photograph of me apparently looking directly at Monica Lewinsky’s butt, but I also now have an official press secretary. His name is Vincent ``Vinny’‘ Setala, and if I had to summarize, in once sentence, the reason I selected him, that sentence would be: ``He’s in jail.’‘

I am not making this up. Back in January, when I first talked about running for president, Vinny sent me a letter from Halawa Prison in Aiea, Hawaii, offering to be my vice president. I had to turn him down for that position, because the vice president’s job is to attend funerals for foreign heads of state, and Vinny would be limited to funerals held inside Halawa Prison. But Vinny makes a perfect press secretary, because he’s not allowed to talk directly to anybody but his lawyer. So when the press wants to ask me some pesky trick question such as what my opinion is, I can just say: ``You’ll have to ask my press secretary about that.’‘ Then they’ll have to figure out how to reach Vinny. Their best bet would be tunneling.

Meanwhile, the presidential race has been heating up. On the Democratic side, front-runner Al Gore, continuing his effort to ``loosen up’‘ his stiff image, recently had both of his feet tattooed to look like wingtips. On the Republican side, the clear front-runner is George W. Bush, who has capitalized on the huge name-recognition advantage he enjoys as the son of a respected and admired former president, Gerald Ford. But Bush could be hurt by the persistent tales of his wild youth; one rumor, which I will not dignify by repeating, is that there is a photograph floating around somewhere showing George W. dancing naked on a bar. In fact the Democrats were planning to use this against George, but then they found out that the person he’s dancing with is Tipper Gore.

But so what? This is 1999! Who CARES what these two consenting adults did, in private, back in 1997! It’s ancient history! The American public wants to stop wallowing in the gutter and talk about the ISSUES, darn it! I would say, based on reading my mail, that the number one issue among voters right now is these annoying stickers that Evil Crazed Marketing Nazis have stuck onto every single piece of fruit in the world. Why are they putting them on there? What if we forget to peel them off and we eat them and develop intestinal stickers? What’s next? Are we going to start seeing stickers on individual grapes? On potato chips? A tiny sticker on each grain of rice?

You can rest assured that if I were the president, I would make it my business to find out who is perpetrating this outrage against the American people, so I could confront them and demand that they give me a large campaign contribution in exchange for not taking action.

That is the kind of ``hands-on’‘ president (or, if you live in New York State, senator) I want to be for you: The kind of president or senator who is not afraid to tell the special-interest groups exactly what they can do with their large unmarked bills. If you’d like complete details on where I stand on this or any other issue, please contact my press secretary. Maybe fax him a hacksaw.

© 1999 Dave Barry

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