We've heard John "global test'' Kerry and George "nook-yuhler'' Bush. We've heard their peeps spin like a chad in a Florida hurricane. We've even heard Cincinnati mentioned in a presidential debate.
But we haven't heard the secret imaginary transcript of what they were thinking during the debate. This is the stuff in those little cloud-shaped balloons over their heads, as they spit out canned answers like automatic teller machines.
Kerry: Look at me. I am JFK. Wealthy Boston family. Did the PT boat thing. Same initials and haircut. I am JFK reincarnated - although I was born while he was still alive and of course Buddhists believe you have to actually die before you can be reincarnated, so I am not actually reincarnated, but I know what it's like because I served in Vietnam and - uh-oh, there's the red light, quick now - I even played touch football and did the "man-tan'' thing before the big debate, just like JFK.
Bush: I'd like to thank the University of Miami and my opponent, Senator Carrot. Man, this pinhead talks like that guy on Gilligan's Island, Thurston Howell III. Even calls his wife Lovey. Reminds me of that one where Gilligan was trying to build a raft and it sank and the Skipper went off on him like Dick Cheney. So what about the Breck guy, Edwards - definitely not the perfessor. More like Mary Ann. Then who's Gilligan? Dang, time's up.
Kerry: Please, please, please say "subliminable'' or "fajoolah.'' Please, please, please say Cat Stevens is the leader of Iran. Do something stupid so I can catch up in the polls. That "moolah'' line will crack up my friends in France, but Americans are too dumb to know a "mullah'' from a "mullet,'' whatever that is.
Bush: Thank you, thank you, thank you for that line about the "global test.'' I can't believe you said "we have to earn the respect of the United Nations.'' Maybe if you attended any Intelligence Committee meanings you'd know how stupid that sounds. Boy, I wish I'd said this instead of just thinking it.
Kerry: OK, I'm pretending to take notes - nobody knows I'm just listing my seven mansions and admiring my new manicure. The important thing is to look like I'm in command, just like Vietnam. Did I mention Vietnam yet?
Bush: Dang, not another question. I ran out of stuff 20 minutes ago. I thought this guy was gonna keep going like that Energizer bunny, and I wouldn't have to say hardly anything. Wait a minute. Did he just say I didn't have enough nations helping Iraq and too many in North Korea? Whew, saved by the light again.
Jim Lehrer: Will someone answer a question? Aaargh!
Kerry voters: Gasp! I can't believe they won't let us hiss. Gasp! Bush refused to admit he's an evil liar and Iraq is Vietnam. Did Kerry mention Vietnam?
Bush voters: Moan! Kerry just lied about the cost of the war and said 90 percent of casualties are American, completely leaving out the Iraqis fighting terrorism - and Bush let him get by with it.
Undecided voters: So who the heck is Jim Lehrer? Isn't he the Cowardly Lion? Oh, I get it - no wonder he's moderating a debate between the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. "Somewhere, over the rainbow ...''
The media: Bush wins on substance, Kerry wins on style. It's a draw. OK, run the story about Kerry's big comeback.
Dan Rather: We're now ready to call Florida for Kerry.
America: We're still wondering - what's Kerry's position on Iraq besides ripping Bush?
Dan Rather: I'm not sorry.
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