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by Jennifer Hampster, 9/8/00

Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement.
The major party candidates for the presidency have spent a lot of time lately debating about debating, while the minor party candidates have tried valiantly to engage the debate debaters in a debate about whether the debates should include … minor party candidates. And in the midst of all this … Senator Sam Spleen of the Enough! party has tried once again to separate himself from the crowd by taking an unexpected stand on the issue.
Jennifer Hampster reports.

(sfx: rain, thunder, crowd milling around)

Jennifer: While most third party candidates are trying to get INTO the debates, Senator Spleen says he is determined to get OUT.
In a major speech on a rainy afternoon at Pandering College, the Senator demanded that the Federal Forum Fellowship, or FFF, guarantee that his name will not appear on any list of candidates for any debate, joint appearance or symposium.

(sfx: applause up and fade)

Spleen: If invited I will not attend! If included I will not participate!
If rebutted … I WILL NOT RESPOND!

(sfx: applause)

Why? Because debates are boring!

(sfx: applause up and down)

And you know what? The candidates are boring!

(sfx: applause up and down)

And I didn't get into this to bore the American People!

(sfx: applause)

If I wanted to bore the American people … I'd have my own show on NPR!

(sfx: wild applause)

Jennifer: Spleen's surprising statements came as the Pandering College Quad filled up with students and their families in line for dormitory assignments. The idea of having them hear a political speech while they waited was part of the college's election year political awareness focus.
Afterwards, many said they hadn't heard of Spleen but came away with a positive impression, especially when he talked about his campaign's goals and values.

(sfx: applause)

Spleen: My campaign is about entertaining television and wonderful old programs you love, not dumb, windy debates!

(sfx: applause)

Spleen: My campaign is NOT about telling people what they want to hear.
My campaign is about opening doors!

(sfx: applause)

Opening doors to Enlightenment.
Opening doors to Entertainment.

(sfx: applause)

Opening the doors to these dorms … so your students can move in and start getting their education, and so the rest of you moms and dads and baby brothers and sisters can go home!

(sfx: big applause)

Jennifer: The Pandering College crowd reacted with such enthusiasm, it raised the question: "Has Spleen tapped into something powerful?" Political Analyst Robert Bloviate thinks so.

Bloviate: When a debate takes over the TV for a large part of the evening … the national mood turns cranky. The polls show that people want to be entertained. They need to be entertained.
And a couple of guys talking … won't do it.
Seeing somebody get whupped … that's what the people want. And in this day and age, that means televised wrestling, not a political debate.

Jennifer: But when TV promotes political debates … they try to present it as a contest, a match, a battle, where someone really could … be humiliated and disgraced. And someone else could emerge the obvious winner!

Bloviate: But experience has shown us that a political debate doesn't have enough whupping going on to hold the attention of the American people.
And for Senator Spleen to reject debates … not on any lofty grounds, but because they're boring … that sounds true to most people.
And it's very smart marketing, since they won't let him in the debates anyway!

Jennifer: And so, Senator Spleen and the Enough! Party continue to wage a baffling and enigmatic campaign, breaking all the rules and perhaps making some new ones, as the candidate takes a solemn vow to never sully the airwaves by being part of a televised debate. I'm Jennifer Hampster.

Dc: Jennifer, this is a radical position Senator Spleen is taking on the debates.

Jennifer: (testy) So?

Dc: Will it work? Does it have a chance?

Jennifer: No. It's all a waste of time. My time. Your time. His time. It's all being thrown away. Spleen hasn't got a prayer, but I spend my life covering him. Why? It must be the money.

Dc: So you think he hasn't got a chance?

Jennifer: I have no idea! I'm not Madame Swami! I'm a reporter, not a handicapper. If you want to treat our great national agony of picking a president like some football pool, be my guest, but don't ask me to contribute. The field is full of goofballs and anything could happen. I have no idea how it's going to turn out. That's why we supposedly study up on the issues and have elections.

Dc: But the polls say …

Jennifer: Don't get me started on the polls. I think they should be illegal.
And YOU should be working as a receptionist. Not to insult receptionists.

(sfx: shuffling papers)

Dc: Is this the conversation we were supposed to have after your story? I'm not seeing any of this on my script.

Jennifer: Oooops! Is this mike open? I had no idea! It must be going around this week! Sorry, all the mean things I just said were intended to be private conversation. I'd apologize, but you weren't supposed to hear them, so shame on you!

Dc: Our chief political correspondent, Jennifer Hampster.


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