I've been asked to moderate a lot of political debates over the years, but I always refuse, because the hosts invariably control what questions are posed to the candidates. Just once I'd like to here a candidate skewer these lame questions and give something other than the predictable answer, like the `Challenger' below.
MODERATOR: Do you agree that it is important to keep our drinking water pure?
INCUMBENT: Our drinking water is our most precious commodity. That's why I've worked hard to limit build-out and the use of chemicals and pesticides.
CHALLENGER: This is one of the many issues we differ on. You see, I'm a big believer in dirty water. Chemicals keep my lawn green and pesticides make my trees bloom, and there is nothing more beautiful in all of nature. I'm for dirty water, in fact, I'm a proponent of poopy water.
MODERATOR: What will you do to make sure our beaches remain pristine?
INCUMBENT: I'm glad you asked that question, because there is nothing more important than protecting our natural resources, and that's why I've beefed up our law enforcement efforts on the beach and redoubled our litter details.
CHLLENGER: Two words, my friends: "Beach Glass." There is nothing more special than finding a beautiful piece of it on our beaches. Today jagged edged broken beer bottles are tomorrow's treasures.
MODERATOR: But . . . but . .what if people cut their feet?
CHALLENGER: Simple – they go to the emergency room, tell them they have no insurance, and get free painkillers. Works for me!
MODERATOR: In these trying times taxes are understandably a hot button. If elected what will you do to hold down the tax rate?
INCUMBENT: During my administration we've tightened our proverbial belts to insure out homeowners aren't overly burdened. That has meant some painful layoffs and difficult choices but it had to be done.
CHALLENGER: Cut taxes? Are you smoking crack? I'll want leather office furniture in my new office and a new SUV! Hell, the payola alone will add millions to my budget. I'm warning everyone right now – you'll have to dig deep if I'm elected. I have expensive tastes, and I'll be spending a lot of time wining and dining developers.
CHALLENGER: Yeah, like them guys who want to build a plastics factory. There's 50 large in it for me!
MODERATOR: Ethics has obviously become an issue.
INCUMBENT: The community knows me. They see me at church, they see me doing charity work. My family and I have lived in this community for 30 years. People know I am a just, kind man.
MODERATOR: On the other hand, there have been some serious charges lodged against the challenger. Sir, is it true what the cocktail waitress alleged?
MODERATOR: The double amputee?
CHALLENGER: Of course.
MODERATOR: The Boy Scout?
MODERATOR: The Nun?
CHALLENGER: What! That's outrageous! Yet another example of my opponent distorting my record! I will not allow my reputation to be tarnished this way!
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, if each of you could summarize in a few words why the voters should choose you . . .
INCUMBENT: I'm running on my record. I've worked hard to serve this community, and the results are evident. Taxes are low. We provide excellent services . . . crime is almost non-existent. Please give me the opportunity to continue down this road.
CHALLENGER: Blah, blah, blah. Nobody ever keeps campaign promises. Here's what I say: elect me, and we will have Happy Hours in every bar in town, every Friday night, and we'll pay for it with food stamps! We'll have All You Can Eat buffets every Sunday, and we'll pay for it with the federal affordable housing grant! And one thing we can all agree on – this town needs strippers, and lots of 'em! Vote for me and I'll make sure we have pole dancers and . . . and . . .
MODERATOR: your time is up, sir.
CHALLENGER: My time has come! Look around the rest of the country!