February 2007 Archives

Senator President

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Somebody recently told me that Barack Obama can't be elected president because in the past 100 years, only one sitting Senator has won a presidential campaign. Every year, I hear this argument advanced against one candidate or another, and it never makes any sense to me. This year it makes even less sense.

For one thing, 100 years is way too far to go back. In 1907, women couldn't vote, TV hadn't been invented yet, and nominees were actually chosen during the party convention. What does that have to do with modern-day America?

Personally, I'd say the earliest you could really go back is 1960, which featured the first televised presidential debate, marking the first time a candidate really had to look good on TV. Since 1960, we've had 12 presidential elections. I'm no statistician, but I think most scientists would tell you that 12 elections is way too small a sample to conclude anything useful.

But if you do think you can conclude anything from those 12 elections, then the fact is that Obama has a huge advantage. Why? Because, although only 1 out of every 10 Americans is left-handed, 5 out of 12 presidential elections have been won by a southpaw. Obviously, left-handers have a massive statistical advantage.

And guess which hand Obama writes with?

By the way, if you really think that being a senator means you can't get elected president, then the winner in 2008 won't be Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, Joe Biden, or even Sam Brownback. And since being mayor of New York has never launched anybody into the presidency, we have to rule out Rudy Giuliani.

That leaves... Let's see... For the Democrats, Governor Tom Vilsak, Governor Bill Richardson, General Wesley Clarke, and Rev. Al Sharpton. For the Republicans, it's one of the following governors: Mitt Romney, John Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, or Tommy Thompson. (Unless the Republicans nominate one of their two candidates who have never held elected office: radio talk show host John Cox, or Hewlett Packard engineer Michael Charles Smith.)

Some of these are plausible choices, I guess. It's conceivable that a former governor could end up heading one or both tickets. But at this early stage, the most likely possibility is that both tickets will be headed by a Senator.

The Voice of the People

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In an effort to encourage participation in democracy, the British government is having a trial of an electronic petition system. Many of the most popular ones are for frivolous causes like changing the tax structure or repealing certain laws.

Fortunately, there are some Britons with their priorities straight. Among the fifty most-popular petitions is this one, signed by 3060 patriots:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream.

Almost as popular is this one, signed by 2,485 music lovers:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to replace the national anthem with 'Gold' by Spandau Ballet.

We, the people of Britain, feel that our current National Anthem has lost a bit of its sparkle.

When we are confronted by the rare occasion of us winning a medal at the Olympics, we all have to mumble through "God Save The Queen", well God help us in 2012!

We would thereby like to table the suggestion that we change the National Anthem to something more modern and appropriate and that will re-invigorate our pride.

What we specifically want to see, is that the National Anthem be changed in favour of "Gold" by Spandau Ballet.

Further, we would like our National Olympic Committee to decree that Tony Hadley is the only person permitted to handle medal ceremonies where the National Anthem is played.

We don't mind what he wears when he does this, but preference is given towards a a gold colured suit.

Fortunately, the Government is vigilantly ensuring that no frivolous petitions sneak in along with such noble causes. A plea to ban "dyhydrogen monoxide" (also known as "water") was rejected because "It was intended to be humorous, or have no point about government policy."

My favorite petition, though, is this one, because I'm dying to know the story behind it:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to End the rules of male primogenture with regard to succession to the Earldom of Stirling via a Resettlement-by-Letters Patent to the current Lord Stirling.

Submitted by Earl of Stirling of Clan Alexander

The World Revolves Around Me

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This New York Times article is about two old friends of mine, one of whom was in my college comedy improv troupe and went on to work with me on Dennis Miller Live. The article (which was brought to my attention by one of the troupe's founding members) is written by yet another former member of my college comedy improv troupe, and it ends with a reference to Jose, who is another of my former Dennis Miller Live co-writers.

I commend the Times on this superb article. I am dismayed to note, however, that they continue to publish hundreds of articles every day written by, and featuring, people I have never met. I trust this will stop at once.

Home Town Teams

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For several years, the UK-based Aardman Animation has had a partnership with the LA-based Dreamworks, which has resulted in Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, among other classic films. This week, the partnership ended.

The LA Times opened their article on the news with, "Battered by the box-office failure of 'Flushed Away,"'DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said Tuesday that it had formally severed ties with the movie's British maker, Aardman Animations."

The BBC reported the news with the headline, "Animators Aardman end movie deal."

(Personally, I'll watch anything Aardman does; I'm just amused by the different spins.)

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