Exactly four years ago, The Stupidest Man on Earth made his first appearance in this column. Today he returns, to take your questions once again.
Q: Will you remind us why you are The Stupidest Man on Earth?
A: Because of Magazine deadlines, this column was written three weeks ago. That means that, today, everyone else on the planet but me knows the results of the election.
Q: So, what happened last time you tried this?
A: I promised -- against all reason -- to accurately answer any 10 questions about the election results. My answers were technically correct but immensely evasive. By Question 10, I declared that I would finally, unambiguously, reveal the name of the new president. Then the story was continued on Page 43.
A: There was no Page 43.
Q: So you were just being a wiseguy?
Q: But when the election turned out to be a hopeless deadlock you must have looked like . . .
A: Yes, The Smartest Man on Earth.
Q: So, what are you going to do to top that this year?
A: I'll do it again, but without evasion. Good questions will elicit straightforward answers.
Q: Okay, who was the winner of the election?
A: The American people, because their voice was heard.
Q: That was not a straightforward answer.
A: That was not a good question.
A: You have nine left. Use them more wisely.
Q: In the November 2 election, who got the most electoral votes?
A: California. It always gets the most electoral votes, because it has the largest population.
Q: After determining which candidate won which state, and applying to each candidate's total the number of electoral votes for each state he won, which candidate won the larger number of electoral votes on November 2?
A: That would have to be Warren G. Harding, whose 404 electoral votes in 1920 was a landslide, and without question the largest total for a single candidate in any election occurring on a November 2.
Q: What words appeared in the biggest, blackest type on Page 1 of The Washington Post this past Wednesday? Tell me, word for word, exactly what they said.
A: "The Washington Post."
Q: Do you really think you are fooling anyone here?
A: Only you. You have five questions left.
Q: You can't count that as one of my 10 questions!
A: Yes, I can. You now have four questions left.
Q: That last one wasn't a question. It didn't even have a question mark!
A: But you began it with a big Q. If you aren't consistent, it's not my fault. Three questions left.
Q: I'm not participating anymore. Why should I? This whole exercise is ridiculous. I know who won the election. Everyone reading this knows who won the election. You are the only ignoramus in the room. Who cares what you think?
A: I see. So you are arguing that we have nothing to learn from history? That the past is just so much falafel and shower caps?
Q: I am arguing that, stuck as you are three weeks in the past, you are incapable of telling me anything of any value.
A: Do you remember having a terrific idea for a column a month ago? You woke up in the middle of the night, all excited, and scribbled it on the back of a dry-cleaning tag?
Q: Uh, yeah.
A: Do you remember the idea?
A: I didn't think so. Middle age can be cruel. Do you remember where you put that scribbled note?
A: I do.
Q: Tell me!
A: Take back what you said about the past having no value to the present.
Q: I take it back.
A: Splendid. You can find the answer on Page 63.
Gene Weingarten's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon at www.washingtonpost.com.