When the first Presidential debate had finally ground to a halt after 90 minutes, I was surprised to see Al Gore and George W. Bush shake each other's hand. I thought they had already merged together, displaying a textbook-worthy illustration of a symbiotic relationship. I don't blame Jim Lehrer for the debate's tediousness, although I think he was chosen because the Presidential Debate Board thought that David Brinkley would be too dynamic. The burden ultimately lies on the participants themselves. Any good drama needs conflict, and with no real difference in opinion between Gore and Bush, their story has all the suspense of an episode of Teletubbies. Therefore, I respectfully ask that the following two candidates be considered for inclusion in the next round of Presidential debates, if only for pure entertainment value (let's face it: entertainment is pretty much all we can hope for from this election). I promise that, at the very least, none of us will be bored.
Jack Grimes: United Fascist Union
Many people today fear the increasing corporate influence in personal, public, and political life. However, if this trend is just fine with you, consider voting for the United Fascist Union this November. Based in Wilmington, Delaware, this upstart party pledges to establish a Corporate State and a "Global Government." I feel that the Union deserves a spot in the debates, for they and they alone have the courage to speak out against "the dilemmas now facing America and the whole of Western civilization: Democracy, Christianity, International Capitalism, Earth Changes, U.F.O.'s, government cover-ups, and others."
George W. Bush may have named Jesus Christ as his favorite political philosopher, but the United Fascist Union does him one better in the antiquity department, invoking ancient Rome and Babylon as its governmental ideals. And if the religious right makes you cringe, you may prefer their brand of theology when compared to the Union's call for the instatement of Paganism as the official State Religion (perhaps in an effort to court the highly sought-after Wiccan vote). The party's official web site uses a glut of Imperial Roman imagerydrawings of gladiators and columns and other Roman-y thingsall of which are incredibly grainy and pixelated. They insist that following these historical precedents will ensure "technical innovation," despite the fact that they don't know how to use a scanner.
The ticket's official candidate is Jack Grimes, a name which sounds less like an ubermensch and more like an accountant. It's hard to tell what he is, though, since there are no pictures of him on the party's web site. This seems odd for a political philosophy that is traditionally based around a cult of personality. There are two possible reasons for this: 1) Mr. Grimes is more concerned with getting his message across than he is with personal promotion; 2) Mr. Grimes is as ugly as a mule.
But not even a homely candidate could possibly distract anyone from the United Fascist Union's views, which could charitably be described as "eccentric". Shunning such traditional political theorists as Locke or Paine, they opt instead for Nostradamus. For this reason, one of their most pressing concerns is the imminent loss of most of America's coastal states in an ecological disaster, leaving only a small, "Golden Triangle" left. My guess is that Mr. Grimes watched that creepy Nostradamus special hosted by Orson Welles when he was too young to handle it, and has been forever scarred by the experience.
A link on the United Fascist Union's web site will bring you to one of their subgroups, the Psychic Research and Protection Association. This aspect of the party's political focus seems to be the result of either an intense Advanced Dungeons and Dragons session or a monster bong hit. In a series of paragraphs that sound stolen from the pages of The Uncanny X-Men, the Union says that the number of natural telepaths ("both senders and receivers") will increase in the next century, and it is the duty of the Union to foster and protect these people from the violent reaction of "normals." There is no e-mail address available for the party itself, which is unfortunate, because I am tempted to write Mr. Grimes and get his opinion on the Daredevil/Spider-Man crossover.
Gene Falco: Independent Candidate
Gene Falco, the owner of a tool-renting business in Huntington, New York, has been running independently for the Presidency since June 6, 1994. He has not sided with any party, nor founded a new one, because, as his official web site declares, "We don't need political parties. We have the church." The sidebars of his web site feature an alphabetical listing of his pet peeves, which include everything from "anti-Christ alliances" to "secret societies." These words also scroll across the bottom of the page as a MIDI banjo version of "His Truth Keeps Marching On" plays over and over. I suggest loading the page while listening to Miles Davis's Bitches Brew on headphones and hearing both tunes mix with each other, as I did. It might scare you, but it will fully prepare you for the strangeness that lies ahead.
Mr. Falco's biggest concern is the fact that the Constitution of the United States does not explicitly state "Jesus is Lord." Apparently, he feels that Thomas Jefferson and company were silly to worry about taxation and Congressional powers, when they should have been worried about upsetting the Big J (who, I'd like to think, would have an ego that would not be bruised by such slights). He is so perturbed about this state of affairs that he flies an American flag upside-down on his front lawn ("a traditional sign of emergency or distress," he says), and urges all of those who are just as upset about this to do the same. Mr. Falco says he got this idea from the World Book Encyclopedia, which essentially means that either 1) He spends a lot of time in a fifth grade classroom, or 2) He's lying, and actually got the idea from Rage Against The Machine.
Mr. Falco spends a great deal of time writing letters to politicians and journalists, all possessing the tone of a scolding mother. His web site reproduces missives he has composed for such folks as the Israeli Consulate and the Serbian delegates to the United Nations, insisting that they accept Christ now or face further turmoil. Apparently, he is ignorant of the fact that, in the case of both nations, Christianity has done a great deal to start or prolong the strife. He has also officially notified UPI, Dan Rather, and Meet the Press of his campaign for President. He must really dig Tim Russert, since he is the recipient of a full run-down of how a government rooted in Christian principles would solve all of our problems.
Aside from his prodigious letter writing campaign, the spreading of Mr. Falco's message seems confined to occasional sojourns out in his pickup truck, armed with crosses, placards, and admonishments shouted from a bullhorn. One interesting picture shows a picture of his truck with a sign saying, "William and Monica should be stoned to death." His explanation is that this was the Old Testament punishment for adultery, neglecting the fact that everything from lying to coughing was punishable by stoning in the Old Testament. He also insists that John 7:53-8:11, the Biblical passage in which Jesus says, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," is a hoax. No evidence is presented to dispute 2000 years of canonical inclusion of this incident, nor does he state who would have inserted it in the Bible while no one was looking, or why. Displaying a vengeful, judgmental attitude that makes Ned Flanders look like a Unitarian, Mr. Falco clearly believes that you don't need proof when you're right.
But Mr. Falco can't pay the bills on bile alone. A section of his web site called "God provides for the Campaign" lists the services that he performs in his secular tool-renting business. Prominently displayed is the fact that he rents lasers, and at the low rate of $15 a day. This shocked me, since I thought that lasers were still confined to science fiction and research laboratories. I'm assuming these lasers are intended for industrial, construction-related purposes, but the thought of Mr. Falco possessing any sort of highly powerful beam is unsettling, to say the least. They say God don't make no junk, but some of his products work better than others.