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Brother's Keeper

Fred Harper

Finally, the governor is standing up for the famous subspecies of human often called by its scientific name, electis moronis. I am, of course, talking about you, the common voter.

The voter is no stranger to scorn and humiliation; he is a creature that has adapted to ridiculous amounts of abuse over the decades. Ever wondered how depressing it must have been to cast a vote for, say, Chester Arthur? As horrible as that was, the subspecies has never seen such a dark age as this.

But fear no more, good voter. Help is on the way. Gov. Jeb Bush and his appointees on the Florida Elections Commission have decided to fix the broken electoral system.

"How?" you ask as you dunk your half-eaten beef jerky into your cup of Irish, stub out your Pall Mall, and finally give your mind a rest from that nasty bit of business you got caught up in last week. "How do we heal after the butterfly ballot, the U.S. Supreme Court appointment of the president, the electronic voting irregularities, and, most horrific of all, the haunting Howard Dean scream in Iowa?"

Bush has your answer: We first must loot former Broward County Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant's personal bank account and -- keep those fingers crossed! -- maybe, just maybe, we can ruin her finances for the rest of her life.

That's how.

It's only a dream, but there was once a fellow called Martin who had a dream, and look at his phenomenal success (a hit TV show and the Bad Boys blockbuster movie franchise, for starters). The founders of this country also had a dream -- and we can help make it come true if we, as a society, can ultimately force Oliphant to eat dinner from a can of cat food off her kitchen floor sometime in the near future.

Oliphant must be financially gutted because she oversaw some terrible indignities at the Broward polls during the 2002 primary, and I'm not just talking about the humiliating choice between Bill McBride and Janet Reno. There were a bunch of other problems too, like precincts opening late and closing early, machines working improperly, and other shockingly common events.

Anyway, Bush booted Oliphant from office before the 2004 election, thank goodness. If that had not happened, I bet the elections office would have been plagued by ridiculous technical problems. Voters would have had to wait in obscenely long lines during the early voting process, and thousands of absentee ballots would have probably been misplaced.

I know what you're thinking, as you pull up your pants in the back alley, suddenly regretting taking them down in the first place. You're thinking, hey, all that stuff happened anyway. But what you're missing is that it would have seemed a lot worse if Oliphant had been in charge when it happened. Clearly, you have no understanding of politics.

But enough about you. What we need to focus on now is a scarred and ruined ex-politician and her role in the meaningless 2002 primary. And rest assured that the Elections Commission has our backs on that one. It charged Oliphant with 55 counts of, according to the indictment, "being really stupid and dumb." At $1,000 per guilty verdict, that comes up to some decent scratch. But first, the commission must prove its case at the trial, which has been graced with the presence of a quasi-celebrity, Franz Kafka III, the great writer's grandson. Bush named Kafka to be Oliphant's judge, even though he has no legal experience and has in fact spent most of his life working for the European arm of Orkin in Vienna. Kafka speaks no English, which legal experts predict will increase his understanding of the case.

To make sure we get Miriam O's money, the commission brought in a star witness last week: Former Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Teresa LePore. You may remember her from 2000, when she conjured up the wonderfully mischievous butterfly ballot. Who could forget the time she spoiled 20,000 votes, made 3,500 elderly liberal Jews vote for Pat Buchanan, and in the process turned an American presidential election upside down? Classic. Even Kafka had heard about it.

LePore testified that she phoned Oliphant to offer her professional assistance before the 2002 primary. She recorded the call, which was played in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom last week:

"Hi, Miriam. It's Teresa, designer of the butterfly ballot. How'd you like me to get down there and help you run your primary?"

"Who is this really?" Oliphant answered, laughing hysterically. "Robin McKinzie Darville, is that you?"

"Who is Robin McKinzie Darville?"

"My sister. She's a riot. Seriously, is this some twisted new version of Crank Yankers or something?"

"No, this really is Teresa LePore. I want to help you."

"Oh my God, you're serious."

"Of course I am."

"Oh Teresa... I'm a... huge fan of your ballot," Oliphant stuttered, apparently trying to figure out how the hell to get LePore off the phone. "But I've got a bit of an image problem, as you know, and, um, I'm not so sure that bringing in the symbol of America's wrecked democracy to 'help' would really be beneficial at this point... from a public relations standpoint."

"Have it your way," LePore concluded, suddenly sounding dark and morose. "See you in the elections supervisors' section of hell. You know that's where we're all going, don't you?"

"Uh, sure, Teresa. OK, honey, buh-bye."

And with that, Oliphant had done the unthinkable: She rejected the famous Teresa LePore's expert assistance. Ka-ching, say the taxpayers. We're gonna get some of that sweet Miriam Oliphant money.

But I hear you. "Why stop there?" you ask, as you pop your third "blue benny" and prepare for another blurry night down at the docks. As long as we're dredging up the ghosts of voting past, you continue, we ought to go all the way. I agree and think it's appropriate that we begin with Oliphant's predecessor, Jane Carroll. She was the master and commander of the 2000 election and may as well have personally hung and impregnated all those poor, innocent chads herself. Charge her with thousands of counts of raping and murdering chads, not to mention fleeing the scene of the crime. Remember? Even before citizens bolted from the state to avoid a potential confrontation with a clearly unhinged Jimmy Baker, Carroll fled to the mountains of North Carolina. She stalled for time by claiming she was exploring deepest Appalachia for what she called a "tonic to make the vote better." Mountain Jane hasn't been heard from since.

It's time to find Carroll and bring her before Kafka.

There's also the current Broward supervisor, Brenda Snipes. She's the one responsible for all those lost absentee ballots that have yet to be found. It's hard to blame her, though, since she was a retired school official who knew nothing about elections when the governor chose her to replace Miriam O. Bush based the decision on sound logic -- the less Snipes knew, the less likely it would be that he would have to have the CIA "disappear" her in the future. Still, the commission should charge Snipes with impersonating a Democrat and, for that, have her incarcerated in a mental hospital for observation.

And we can't forget state elections officials like Katherine Harris, the former secretary of state, current congresswoman, and all-around babe. She did everything she could to keep the state from getting a proper vote count. It's time we added her name to her own faulty felons' list and bring her before Kafka. Then again, she's really already paying the price. A sizable percentage of the Florida populace is still so outraged that they are compelled to try to run her down in their cars upon sight. One man has been arrested for aggravated assault and countless others with the lesser charge of "trying to off the bitch that stole the election," a misdemeanor.

We also can't overlook the new secretary of state, Glenda Hood. The aptly named Hood not only tried to revive the infamous felon list but illegally banned recounts in the state and fought in court to make sure paper ballots weren't allowed to verify the vote. She staunchly defended her seemingly antidemocratic stance on environmental grounds. "In the Tallahassee bureaucracy, I see how much paper is already used in government," she explained at the time. "I think it's time we saved some trees. I'm not mean -- I've just gone green." Well, bless her, who can argue with that? But Hood should at least be fined for fighting to keep Ralph Nader on the Florida ballot. The commission should charge her with 9 million counts of "inflicting Nader." (Check the code book; it's in there).

"But won't ol' Jeb balk at Joe Taxpayer hitting up his secretary of state like that?" you ask, as you stand in line for your weekly methadone shot and try to think up a plausible alibi. In a word, I don't think so. He's clearly a born-again democrat (with a small d, of course) who has decided that you, the common voter, are finally to be treated with respect. And he's surely come to realize that he too has transgressed. It is true that he authorized Harris and Hood to commit their antivoter acts and that, indeed, he could easily be considered the most relentless enemy of electis moronis in American history. But we also can't forget that he has acted this way for a selfless reason: to help his brother become president of the United States.

"And being a good brother is moral and right," you say, as you shred your credit card receipts and grab the shovel to dig your "evidence hole" in the backyard. "It says something like that in the Bible, and I'm a big believer in the Bible."

You have a point there, good voter. And, in a word, I must agree.


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