The following was printed (The Boise Weekly) on November 2, 2000
Rod and Reel Politics
Good news for ichthyophiles! Your fishies are safe with me. I don’t think I could catch one with a Japanese trawler. Nope, I couldn’t even bag a bug-eyed little bubble-bowl goldfish with a spaghetti strainer, so the only fish who have anything to fear from me are those bite-sized chunks of tuna that Starkist does such a nice job of canning up.
I am so certain because a week or so ago, I spent three days trying to catch fish. Or a fish, seeing as how I would have been perfectly happy with just one. You may be wondering how I, a seething partisan boiling over with political opinions, could be so negligent as to take time off for fishing in the midst of the hottest, tightest presidential race since … since … hell, I doubt if there’s ever been a race this hot and tight. It’s looking more like a Bruce Willis movie than a presidential race. Any moment now, I expect Al Gore to turn slowly … oh-so slowly … glare into George W.’s dim, black eyes and hiss, “Yippee-ay–ki-yah, Momma’s Boy!”
I truly would hate to miss that moment when and if it comes. Especially over a fish. But you see, my daughter’s B-day falls a mere month shy of E-Day and my family has established a tradition over the past few years by going to the hills on that day and trolling for Troutus picky-eaterus. She absolutely loves to fish, my kid. She must have gotten it from her granddad because she sure didn’t get it from me. I absolutely hate to fish. For me, the only thing that distinguishes the act of fishing from the act of being in a coma is the thrill of periodically running a barbed hook through my finger.
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Still, it’s her birthday and I’m not about to let either petrifying ennui or a presidential election come between me and what makes my child happy. No sir! And besides, whatever I might say between now and election day won’t change the outcome even a smudge here in Idaho, where-in my opinion hardly ever goes further than the county line (if you don’t count my brother’s home in Puyallup, Washington. Or is it Pewollip?). That’s right, CNN could videotape a naked George W. Bush on a bed of pure cocaine with 13 also-naked under-age male Communist Chinese spies, and he’d still carry Idaho. Overwhelmingly. That’s just the way it is.
So I don’t feel I did my preferred candidate any harm by taking my girl fishing. And anyway, what more can be said about these two guys Bush and Gore that hasn’t already been said? And said and said. Face it, as to those “undecided voters” the campaigns have been trying to lure for about the last six months, we’re not talking about the most alert kids in class here, are we? And that’s what this race has come down to, snagging a few “undecided voters”—which is like fishing for Jello. Exactly what bait does one use to hook a clot of uncommitted snot?
But Lord knows, I’m no expert on bait. Jeez, I tried worms, salmon eggs, tiny marshmallows, shiny lures, rubber pollywogs, a polyethylene concoction that looked like a pimple with eight legs, and some pinkish effluvium that advertised itself as pure trout testosterone. Yet, the fish remained unimpressed. Or not hungry. Or something. I mean, who knows what goes on in the mind of a fish?
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As to this writer’s mind, it remained bothersomely busy. With nothing to reel in, nothing to gut and behead—nothing to show for our trip but a leg cramp—I had more than enough time to think. As I paddled our rented boat from one fishy-looking spot to another, hoping to brighten my darlin’s day with at least a guppy-strength nibble, ol’ Bill’s brain couldn’t help but return to the lowlands—to the battle raging ‘twixt Al and George—and to what I might have said in these remaining days to lure one or two of those undecided snots into the Gore boat.
Like, I might have mentioned that, had a certain infamous fundraiser been held in a Methodist church instead of a Buddhist temple, we’d o’ never heard of the damn thing.
Should I have pointed out that what Republicans are calling George W.’s “likability” is actually nothing more than how much Republicans don’t like losing?
I could have argued that all those things Bush claims Clinton and Gore didn’t get done in the last eight years were largely not done because of Newt Gingrich’s vileness, and I might have commented that Ralph Nader has fallen from righteous crusader to spoiled brat, but … gosh … would it have mattered? Certainly, not in Idaho. Possibly, in my brother’s home in Pughillap, but I can’t even be sure of that.
No, what might be done, has been done. It’s time to calm down, kick off our campaign shoes and cast our ballots to the wind. And for those of us on the eventual losing side, let us be content with my daughter’s attitude— “Next time, Dad…we’ll get one next time.”
November 2, 2000