When George W. Bush wanted to connect with the Almighty during his recent campaign stop at the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, he called upon firebrand O'Neal Dozier, of course. Dozier is the black preacher from Broward County whose homophobic vitriol actually waves and shimmers like heat rising off a sidewalk. In front of about 8,000 Republican faithful, Dozier summoned the power from on high, praying to Jesus that the president win reelection (though Tailpipe has it on good authority that Jesus isn't endorsing anybody this year).
It's one of the major themes of the election season. Whose side is God on? The Democrats are relatively quiet on the subject, but Republicans often claim, with hair-raising confidence, heavenly primacy for their guy. Tailpipe had heard that Bush, the reformed carouser who was once arrested for drunken driving in Maine and who reportedly sniffed cocaine in the White House during his father's administration, has an inside line to God. But the only place to get the real scoop, the 'Pipe figured, would be someplace like the Worldwide Christian Center Church in Pompano Beach, where Dozier is the Big Kahuna. So Tailpipe slipped into a back pew there a couple of Sundays ago in search of the unadulterated Truth.
Right away, this battered cylinder felt like he was in peerlessly enlightened company. Dozier used neither the phrase "litmus test" nor "global test," but he told his congregants that, if he had his way, they would be among the virtuous few who would qualify to vote. "A democracy is no good when a majority of the people in the world are ungodly," he asserted to the 200-plus congregants.
Dozier, a favorite of both Bush brothers, offered his version of a voters' guide to November 2. "You know all the issues you hear the candidates talking about, [like] the issue of Iraq?" he queried rhetorically. "Iraq is not the issue. Then I hear them talking about the economy. The economy is not the issue."
So what is?
"Number one: Sex. And number two: Give me something for nothin'. That's what it boils down to. If you are a liberal black, then the only issue you're interested in is, 'Give me something for nothing.' And if you're a white liberal, the only issue is sex!" Some parishioners shouted amen. "Homosexuality is nothing but sex. Abortion is nothing but sex. That's what the battle is about. That's why people hate Bush. The black people hate him because he wouldn't give them something for nothing. And the white liberals hate him because he wouldn't let them go out and have their party sex like they want to."
Dozier has his own special version of "piece" on Earth, although even some congregants seemed to find it a bit of a stretch when he began making the case that the Prince of Peace is an NRA supporter. After Jesus rose from the dead, according to Dozier, he said, "Boys, things are going to get rough now. Go sell your coat and take the money and buy yourself a sword." Some listeners drew a blank. "A sword in those days would be equivalent to..." -- Dozier paused and tittered -- "an assault weapon! The Lord told them, 'Get your piece. '" He paused again, then assured his flock, "I got my piece."
Tailpipe wrestled with the image of godliness and modern weaponry. The Prince of Peace brandishing an AK-47? Hmm. This emission-spewing cylinder would have stayed to question Dozier about this, but he was on a tight schedule. The orgy over at the Democratic Party HQ was about to get under way, and you know how those Dems are. You snooze, you lose.
Mad Ave, SoFla
Since the political conventions came to a close, presidential campaign advertisements have steadily replaced spots for Viagra, Celebrex, and Zoloft on Tailpipe's boob tube. From March 3 to September 30, George W. Bush and John Kerry have spent a combined $330 million on television advertising in the nation's top 100 markets.
That has resulted in a ka-ching ka-ching for TV stations in South Florida, the most saturated market in the nation. Local stations are taking one of the largest slices of the advertising pie, which is expected to surpass $500 million by Election Day. According to a recent study by the Nielsen Monitor-Plus and University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, Miami-Fort Lauderdale's 1.5 million television homes were inundated with more presidential campaign ads than anywhere else.
From September 24 to October 7, Miami-Fort Lauderdale viewers were hit with 5,556 television campaign ads. Only 27 percent of them were positive. Albuquerque, New Mexico, came in a distant second with 4,644 spots. West Palm Beach was 30th with 2,501 ads.
"We're saturated," says Michael Colleran, president and general manager of the local TV triopoly consisting of WFOR-TV (Channel 4) and WBFS-TV (Channel 33) in Miami-Fort Lauderdale and WTVX-TV (Channel 34) in West Palm Beach. "We've already been saturated with hurricane winds and rain. Saturation is inherent to how we live down here. You can safely say the political advertising economy or marketplace has doubled monetarily since 2000." Colleran declined to say how much money his stations have received through presidential campaign advertising this year.
It's only going to get worse, folks. Tailpipe wants his Zoloft and Viagra ads back.
Gettin' Out the What?
Local Democrats have taken heat in the past for being disorganized -- or "muddled and unfocused," as the Sun-Sentinel's Buddy Nevins put it recently -- but that would not be the case this year. No way. Tailpipe was certain that, for the Most Important Election in Our Lifetime, the Democratic Party would be on its toes as Election Day approached.
Figuring to bask in the exhilarating power of the well-oiled political machine, the 'Pipe called Kerry's Broward County headquarters. Instead of the powerful wheeze of a jet about to take off, though, there was, um, no answer. Maybe all the Dems were out at a rally or something. Give them a few hours. Then no answer to the second call. Or the third. Or the fourth. Could the Broward County Democrats not afford an answering machine?
The next day, an embarrassed volunteer finally picked up the phone. The party was having new lines installed, he said, apparently requiring that the old phones not be answered. The Kerry faithful were also strangely reluctant to give out the locations of their branch offices, so the 'Pipe had to travel out to Kerry HQ in Plantation.
Now we were talkin'. The place was a beehive of activity. Workers at Kerry central were nearly as diverse as a campaign commercial: men and women, young and old, black and white, and they all dashed around frantically waving sheafs of paper. The vital sheaf-waving, however, left little time for dealing with new volunteers. The harried receptionist took name and number and sent the 'Pipe on his way. This metal tube was, let's face it, a little bent out of shape.
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Well, it's the nature of the beast, Tailpipe supposed. Must be the same over at Republican headquarters.
But a call to the Broward County Republicans quickly yielded the address and number of their nearest office. Like a good GOP pollution-spewer, the 'Pipe reported for duty to Fort Lauderdale volunteer coordinator Arnold Mende. This branch-office GOP crew also represented its party's base in all its diversity: men and women, young and old, white and white. When Mende saw the tube signing in southpaw, he exclaimed, "All the great people are left-handed -- Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, and Arnold Mende!"
A man after Tailpipe's steely heart.
The Repubs handed this tube a list of absentee voters from 2000, and he started dialing within ten minutes of arriving at the front door. Reached about ten people in the first hour. One bad sign for the Bush crowd: Most of the people who answered the phone that day said, hell, no, they'd never vote for the bastard.