What? It's over? Already?
That's no fun. What about the recounts? What about the lawsuits? Where are the dueling protesters, the dueling pundits, the dueling courts issuing dueling rulings?
After 18 months of fevered campaigning, it's all over in one lousy day -- well, maybe a lousy day and a half. It's so retro, so 20th century. Come on, candidates, this is a new millennium and voters were spoiled by the election of 2000, when the excitement -- or whatever you call it -- continued for 36 fun-filled days.
Ah, those were the days -- and days and days and days.
Today, absolutely nothing is happening. But on this day back in 2000, the fun was just cranking up. You remember it: Al Gore had conceded defeat, then un-conceded, telling George Bush, "Don't get snippy!" And a mob of angry old people -- many of them hobbling on canes or sitting in wheelchairs -- clogged the streets of downtown West Palm Beach to protest the infamous "butterfly ballot," which was so confusing it caused elderly liberal Jews to vote for Pat Buchanan by accident.
Ah, the butterfly ballot! It brings back memories, doesn't it?
Remember how Florida was invaded by SWAT teams of pit-bull lawyers, each led by a former secretary of state -- Jim Baker for the Republicans, Warren Christopher for the Democrats? Dueling secretaries of state -- now, that's entertainment!
Remember the wonderful scenes of election officials holding ballots up to the light, going cross-eyed as they looked for chads in all their infinite varieties -- hanging chads, swinging chads, bent chads and pregnant chads?
Remember the big banana-yellow Ryder truck that carried Palm Beach County's ballots 450 miles to a court in Tallahassee, accompanied by a police escort and news helicopters that showed its progress live to cable news junkies across the country? Tony Enos, the truck's driver, stopped at a rest area near Disney World and was besieged by TV reporters who filmed him drinking orange juice and saying: "The ballots seem to be riding fine back there."
It was, without a doubt, the most exciting vehicle-on-highway story since O.J.'s white Bronco.
Speaking of entertainment, remember all those great editorial cartoons and those Internet jokes showing ballots where every line ended up pointing to "George W. Bush"? The whole ordeal made if fun to watch Letterman and Leno. "Every big-shot attorney in the United States is now in Florida," Letterman said. "So here's what happens: If we were to have a hurricane -- God forbid we had a hurricane -- the whole thing could still have a happy ending."
Remember Katherine Harris, who served simultaneously as Florida's top election official and co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the state? Remember all the jokes about her makeup? She caused Democrats to froth at the mouth and babble uncontrollably, with former Clinton aide Paul Begala calling her a "dilettante debutante Republican hack" and lawyer Alan Dershowitz calling her "a crook and an operative."
Then there was the Miami-Dade election board, which voted not to conduct a recount, then voted to conduct a recount, then voted to stop the recount in the middle? Hollywood's best writers couldn't make that stuff up.
And the angry mob that pounded on the walls outside the room where the Miami-Dade election officials were conducting their recount, screaming, "Stop the count! Stop the fraud!" They looked like garden-variety thugs, but they turned out to be a bunch of hotshot Republican Hill staffers.
An angry mob of upscale Republicans -- that's the kind of wonderful post-election entertainment we got back in 2000.
"This is more exciting than any sporting event," a spectator at a 12-hour-long meeting of the Palm Beach election board told The Washington Post. "This is better than a subway Series."
He was right, of course. Boy, those days were fun!
But this year . . . pfffft! This post-election is a total bust. No recounts, no lawyers, no chads, no cartoons. No nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The guy who came in second simply quits, explaining that because he got fewer votes he lost. Sure, that may be technically true, but where's the fun in that?
When you think about what could have been, you weep. Ten days of Buckeye bureaucrats counting more than 100,000 Ohio provisional ballots, as the world watches. Lawyers swarming into the state, suing and countersuing. Protesters screaming at each other in the streets. Pundits screaming at each other on TV . . .
But, alas, it's not to be. The election is over. That killjoy John Kerry has pulled the plug, and now political junkies are going through cold turkey, waiting for the 2008 campaign to begin, which probably won't happen for, oh, at least two weeks. Darn it, it's just not right.