01-24-01: The best show on television
By Christian Livemore and Stephen Sacco
January 24, 2001 | For our money, the best new TV show this year by far
was this thing called "Election 2000." It's a wacky send-up of American
politics that focused on a wild presidential race and featured a crazy
cast of characters.
The two main characters were Al Gore, the Democratic candidate, and George
W. Bush, the Republican, otherwise known as the Smart Guy and the Dumb
Guy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is comedy writing at its finest.
Television hasn't seen contrasting characters like this since Felix and
Oscar. Like the classic Abbott and Costello routines, the Smart Guy and
the Dumb Guy played off of each other beautifully. The Smart Guy was
always citing facts and figures and talking about something called
Dingel-Norwood, and he kept going on and on about things like education,
health care and a lot of other boring stuff.
The Dumb Guy would just roll his eyes and smirk at the Smart Guy. Then
somebody would ask the Dumb Guy a question and he'd say something like, "I
. . . I . . . I'm a leader," and "If I'm for it then I'm for it, and if
I'm ag'in it, then I'm' not for it." And he kept mispronouncing words like
"subliminable" instead of "subliminal" and saying things like, "Is our
The Dumb Guy has a brother named Neil, who cheated the government out of
millions of dollars a few years back, and they keep shoving him in the
closet and hoping everybody will forget about him.
Then there's the Dumb Guy's father, an ex-CIA director who used to be the
president himself but screwed everything up so bad he lost his re-election
to a dope-smoking, draft-dodging, skirt-chasing trailer park cracker from
The father is always getting the Dumb Guy out of the most ridiculous
situations, like the time he got arrested for drunk driving with his
little brother in the car (he was 30 and said it was" in his youth"; the
Dumb Guy is hysterical!), and going AWOL from the Texas Air National
Guard. The father even got his son into Yale, even though he's a Dumb Guy.
This stuff is so outlandish, none of it would ever really happen, but it
sure makes great television. In real life, of course, you'd want the Smart
Guy to be president. But this isn't real life, it's TV. (Thank God. If the
Dumb Guy were actually going to be the president, we'd be in a hell of a
fix.) They're trying to write a comedy show here, and the smart guy isn't
half as funny as the Dumb Guy.
They also had a character named Ralph Nader, who was running as the Green
Party candidate. This is some of the best character development in the
show. For years he was a consumer advocate, fighting big business and
protecting the public safety. He was becoming the perrenial presidential
candidate, but just to make a point, not really expecting to win, just
trying to elevate the public debate. But over time he grew increasingly
bitter and resentful at all the money everybody else was making, so he
staged a vanity run in which he charged people by the thousands to hear
him speak at Madison Square Garden and other big stadiums across the
So every now and then this Nader character would show up and tell
everybody that there was no difference between the Smart Guy and the Dumb
Guy. This seemed to really upset the Smart Guy, who went on and on about
the environment and a woman's right to choose. But the Dumb Guy seemed to
really like this Nader guy and even paid for some of the guy's commercials.
If there is one place in this otherwise very funny show where the comedy
comes up short, it's with the Smart Guy. The Smart Guy wasn't all that
funny. He never did anything goofy like the Dumb Guy, who was always doing
something stupid, like mispronouncing words and not knowing Social
Security was a Federal Program. All the Smart Guy ever did was talk about
the issues. He had a strong marriage with a lovely woman, and four
beautiful kids who adored him. I mean, sure he was really smart and a good
family man and obviously more qualified to be president, but he never had
any punch lines. He must have been the straight man.
In one hilariously funny episode, the dumb guy had this giant Band-aid on
his face the whole show. His aides kept telling everybody that he had an
"unsightly cyst," but you just knew it was really a bruise from getting
into a fist fight with his other brother Jeb, because Jeb screwed up the
vote rigging in his state in the last episode. Plus you didn't see Jeb at
all for the next two or three episodes, so you just knew he had a big old
black eye and maybe a couple of teeth knocked out.
Another very funny episode focused on the debates. The Smart Guy kept
trying to get the Dumb Guy to agree to debates, but the Dumb Guy didn't
want to debate. After a lot of stalling, the Dumb Guy tried to offer his
own debate format. It was two one-hour debates in a TV studio with Larry
King and no audience. This of course only highlighted how afraid he was to
debate the Smart Guy, and people made fun of him unmercifully. Finally,
the Dumb Guy had to agree to the debates, but he still insisted on some
crazy rules, like no follow-up questions. And he wouldn't let the Smart
Guy ask him any questions at all.
When the debates finally happened, just as you'd expect, the Smart Guy
whooped the Dumb Guy's ass. But after the debates all the TV reporters
insisted that the Dumb Guy had won.
Well, the Smart Guy was really confused after that. He went to his
advisors to learn how to be more like the Dumb Guy-but he wasn't too good
at being a Dumb Guy, so they decided that he should just try to be more
like himself, a Regular Guy. He did things like do a 24-hour campaign
marathon, and got so punchy going on about 3 a.m., that he asked a crowd
of about 5,000 people in his home state how many of them were related to
his wife Tipper. And at another rally an hour later, he proclaimed that he
had about 2,500 cousins in that town. He even started making fun of the
Dumb Guy. At one rally, he told the audience what the Dumb Guy had said
about Social Security: "He said, 'I mean, what do the Democrats think
Social Security is, some kind of Federal Program?' Then he nodded his head
and said in his best Valley Boy voice: "Ye-ah!"
The Smart Guy was funny that episode.
The actors who play members of the press are fantastic. There's this one
guy who plays a TV pundit named Tim Russert, and all he can talk about is
the current president's private parts. He does an hour show each week, and
every week he's got a different guest on to talk about the president's
Election 2000 went out with a whiz-bang end-of-season cliffhanger: Who won
the election? You see, the Dumb Guy's brother Jeb, who was also the
governor of Florida, was supposed to have fixed it so the Dumb Guy would
win the state, but even though he prevented a lot of black people from
voting, folks found out about it and there were all kinds of protests and
even a couple of riots.
It went on for about two months. In one raucous episode, a bunch of Jewish
people in Florida thought they had voted for the Smart Guy, but it turned
out that they had actually voted for a Nazi named Pat Buchanan. The Smart
Guy and his aides tried to use this as proof that the election was faulty
and the votes needed to be recounted, but the Dumb Guy's daddy sent his
lawyer James Baker down there, and he insisted that the Jewish community
was actually a Pat Buchanan stronghold.
Things were complicated by the fact that it turns out the Smart Guy had
actually won the popular vote by over a half million votes. Meanwhile,
more and more stories started coming out about boxes of ballots sitting in
the police evidence room in Miami that had never been counted, and about
ballot machines being rigged.
In one of the final episodes of the season, the heat was turned up to a
boil by the Florida Supreme Court, who ruled that the votes must be
recounted. The Dumb Guy panicked, because he knew that he had actually
lost the election, and in fact, when they started recounting the votes,
the Smart Guy kept gaining on him. By the time they'd gotten halfway
through, the Smart Guy was behind by only 120 votes. It became clear that
at the rate things were going, if they counted the rest of the votes in
the state, the Smart Guy would win by about 23,000 votes.
Folks, I'm telling you, these writers know how to create suspense.
How did they get out of it, you ask? Well, here they truly topped
themselves. In a bizarre turn of events that would never happen in the
United States if this were an actual election, the U.S. Supreme Court
stepped in, stopped the counting of the votes and awarded the presidency
to the Dumb Guy.
In his decision, one of the justices, a character named Antonin Scalia,
said that counting the votes would do irreparable harm to the Dumb Guy's
candidacy. This of course meant that if they counted all the votes, the
Dumb Guy would lose, but the Scalia character couched it in some fancy
pants legalese. It was possibly the funniest episode of the season. Of
course, it wasn't very realistic. I mean, that would never happen in real
life. But itÍs just a TV show, so we can all just sit back and laugh about
They're adding some cast members for season two, and so far it looks
poised to top season one. (This is not the first time they've added cast
members, by the way. They've been adding minor characters all along
because throughout season one, the Dumb Guy kept killing people. He was
killing so many people that the Pope and Pat Robertson asked him please
not to kill this one woman because she was a born-again Christian. But of
course he just killed her anyway-he's a Dumb Guy. (How they got the Pope
and Pat Robertson to do cameos we'll never know, but it was one hell of a
They recently hired this woman to do a three-episode stint as Linda
Chavez, the Dumb Guy's nominee for Labor Secretary, but it turns out that
she actually employed an illegal alien as a maid. A labor secretary who
hires illegal aliens-Is that a great twist or what? If it's one thing
these writers understand, it's irony.
Chavez tried to defend her actions by saying that she didn't "hire" the
woman, that she just was helping her out by paying her for doing some
cleaning around the house. But of course she wasn't fooling anybody, and
finally had to drop out.
Election 2000 just got picked up for four years under a new title: the
Bush Administration. The new season kicks off on January 20 and focuses on
the Dumb Guy's inauguration, which of course he'll mispronounce, and the
protests in the capital. We just spotted a preview for the first episode.
It showed a TV reporter talking about the Inauguration, and saying that
750,000 people were expected to protest.
Make sure you tune in this season, folks. You don't want to miss it. If
last season is any indication, this show should be the funniest thing to
hit television since that classic comedy of the 1980s, the Reagan/Bush
Copyright © 1998-2001 Online Journal. All rights reserved.
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This article contributed By Christian Livemore and Stephen Sacco.