Thank heaven the election is over. The winners are still enjoying their hangovers and the losers are looking for jobs.

It wasn't easy for the latter, because some didn't set aside any of their campaign money to see them through the winter.

The losers spent all their funds on television smear commercials.

It was the day after the election that Buff Lafftop, who lost his bid for Congress, showed up at the unemployment office. He waited three hours before someone would talk to him.

Finally he was ushered into a small booth. The man behind the desk said, "Lafftop -- any relation to the guy who had a 30-point lead and blew the election?"

"Yes," he said. "I try not to brag about it."

The unemployment officer said, "You had the dirtiest commercials of any politician in the country."

"I tried to do the best I could, but it wasn't enough."

"I saw one of your commercials in which you claimed your opponent wore cheap shoes and had athlete's foot."

"It was one of the weaker ones. My people thought it would be a political plus for the baby boomer vote."

The officer said, "Then there was one that showed Saddam Hussein shooting his rifle into the air followed by opponent Cholly Duncan shooting his rifle in the air. Your announcer said, 'What do Saddam Hussein and Cholly Duncan have in common? They both suck nerve gas.' "

"We got the Saddam footage from the Pentagon. My handlers in the White House were really counting on it to beat Duncan."

"I'm sorry I have to ask you all these questions, but if we are going to find a job for you we have to dig into your background. You showed another TV spot with a bunch of prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard followed by a shot of Duncan's wife campaigning for him. The voice-over said, 'Not all the prostitutes are on Hollywood Boulevard.' "

"We slotted it in the seventh inning of a World Series game. By the ninth we were getting e-mails at headquarters from all over the country."

"Where did you get the money for all the commercials?"

"The National Committee poured it in. They would do anything to win the election. But when I lost they wouldn't even give me taxi fare to come to the unemployment office."

The officer said, "Except for running a dirty political campaign, I don't know what your qualifications make you fit for."

"What about advertising? I could write copy for McDonald's telling the people how bad the other carryouts are."

"There is that -- or you could become a lobbyist and tell congressmen they should abolish environmental laws that are hurting big business and giving dirty air a bad name."

"I'd like that. I always dreamed of being a lobbyist and serving my country."

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services