In the Booth, Outside the Box

Every four years, it happens like this: I step into the voting booth and there, on the presidential ballot, besides the deficient Democrat, the loathsome Republican -- or is it "loathsome Democrat"

Every four years, it happens like this: I step into the voting booth and there, on the presidential ballot, besides the deficient Democrat, the loathsome Republican — or is it "loathsome Democrat" and "deficient Republican," I always get that confused — and maybe a high-profile wildcard like Anderson or Perot or Nader, there's a whole raft of candidates I've never heard of. "Damn," I say to myself, "I wish I knew if any of these guys were sane enough to vote for."

Well, this year, I won't be caught off guard. A bit of research reveals that, come Election Day, I, along with voters in most states, will be able to choose from an eclectic mix of presidential hopefuls. Fringe party candidates. Single-issue candidates. Radical extremists. Extremist radicals. And, perhaps most tellingly, the untelegenic and the unfundraisable.

Do these aspirants warrant a look?

Definitely. Are they electable? Almost certainly not. Is a vote for one of them a wasted vote? Hmm, better to ask if a vote for Bush or Gore isn't just a sick, codependent, enabling contribution to one of a couple of meta-Oedipuses who are aching to finally and very publicly "kill Daddy."

In any event, I firmly hold that an informed electorate is a democracy's best hope. (Pat Buchanan rates it third best, right behind "white men in suits" and "plenty of nuclear missiles.") So, here then, are thumbnails of America's six "under the radar" chief executive wannabes.

Shelton Kromakey (La-Z-Boy Party): Mr. Kromakey asserts the vast American television audience is under-entertained and, so long as they don't have to get up, eager for change. He promises to use legislation and the bully pulpit to improve TV and thus our quality of life. Among his stated positions: Proposes earmarking $10 billion in federal funds to produce 100 brand new episodes of Seinfeld; would sign an executive order calling for more sex, less city in Sex and the City; supports a woman's right to choose programming but only so far as it does not infringe on a man's right to control the remote. Mr. Kromakey also pledges to appoint "a 'very Brady' cabinet."

Paul E. Dent (Ensure Party): Having just turned 109, candidate Dent is the oldest person ever to seek the presidency. If elected, he says, all he wants is for the whole country to help him look for his left bedroom slipper, which he lost in 1979.

Lucille Maupinup (Orderly Party): Ms. Maupinup, troubled by the chaos and disarray she sees in the world, seeks to galvanize America's "silent-but-tidy majority" with a rallying cry of "Neatness counts." Planks in her platform include moving/organizing all national parks into one central, easy-to-get-to state (probably Missouri); creating an individual file folder for every foreign leader she meets with; and the deployment of UN troops for a thorough straightening-up of Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Her running mate, gay activist Andi Minsk, has also proposed the death penalty for any criminal who commits a crime with his or her shirttail out.

Ayatollah Dave Stubbs (Die, America, Die Party): This Carptail, La., native son has boldly announced, "On the day I'm sworn in as Commander-in-Chief, I will unconditionally surrender this country to Iran." His strategy is to win over voters who drive SUVs, arguing that "being ruled by an OPEC nation could well cut the cost of a fill-up on a Chevy Suburban by more than half." It's speculated Ayatollah Dave could attract nearly 25 percent of the vote (among he, his wife and his parents).

Dwight Frobbish (Icarus Party): While many admire this presidential hopeful for bankrolling his own campaign, others point out that with only $463.22 in personal savings and his credit cards maxed out, this is a reckless move, dooming his presidential bid to failure. Mr. Frobbish counters that his critics will be singing "a different fucking tune" after this Wednesday's $78 million PowerBall drawing, for which the candidate holds 463 tickets. Issues-wise, his stump speeches call for both increased Congressional fiscal responsibility and putting the Social Security Trust fund on 22 Black at Trumps Taj Mahal.

Julie and Edward Speinliss (Spencer Party): Married for almost 11 years, the Speinlisses say that if elected they'll serve as co-presidents. Other than that, however, their campaign has no real vision, plans or even a guiding philosophy. They explain: "At dinner one night, our 7-year-old, Spencer, said he wanted us to run for co-president. At first we said, 'No,' but he got really cranky. Crying, screaming. He wouldn't eat. Finally, just to get things settled down, we said we'd run. What else could we do?" ©