Night of the living dead

The voters of Missouri have resurrected Mel Carnahan. It's enough to drive his opponent to prayer.

By Carina Chocano

Published November 8, 2000 4:45AM (EST)

"In a Senate election transformed by tragedy, Missourians cast their ballots today for either a live incumbent or a dead challenger. The plane crash that killed Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, his son and an aide turned the nationally watched contest against Republican Sen. John Ashcroft from notoriously bitter to bizarre."
-- Associated Press

Dear Lord,

John Ashcroft from Missouri here, coming to you from the buckle of the Bible Belt. Better connection. Just kidding, Lord. But seriously, I'm sorry to bother you on such a busy night -- what with the high prayer volume you must be experiencing and all -- but can I just ask one thing? What in the name of You is going on?

Lord, my opponent, Mel Carnahan, has expired. He has ceased to be. You called him to your ample bosom -- not to suggest that your bosom is ample -- so why is he trailing me by only 2 percent? I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but it just doesn't seem fair.

What? Wait a second -- CNN just announced that Florida was called too soon. Sorry, just keeping an eye on the results. No change in my lead, though, still praying!

Did I mention my daddy was president of Evangel University here? You remember him. Big fan of yours, Lord. Big fan. Evangel is one hoot of a school, yes it is. Run by the Assemblies of God, as you know. Yep. The Holy Rollers. You have no idea what it meant to me as a kid to sit in and watch your ecstatic flock writhing on the floor while speaking in tongues. Stuck with me for life, Lord. In fact, I was feeling a bit of the religious apoplexy coming on earlier, but my chief of staff advised against it, the race being so close.

But just between you and me, "Mrphgaaah Brringackhgsd."

I would like to remind you, Lord -- not that you don't have one heck of an omnipotent memory -- I was the guy who banned liquor and dancing from the Statehouse, and I hope you'll keep that in mind as long as the polls stay open. Remember the time I tried to parlay my religiosity into a presidential candidacy, positioning myself as the candidate of the religious right? Wasn't that great? We've had some laughs.

Oh, wait, wait. Just took another look at those numbers. Carnahan's still got 564,821. That's 49 percent, Lord. That's awful close. Can you give a member of the flock a break?

I have tried to carry out your will on the Senate floor. Remember the time I sponsored that bill that would have gutted the Fair Labor Standards Act by permitting employers to work employees 60 hours a week with no overtime pay? I know you're pro-business, Lord, and the business lobbies love me!

Holy guacamole! What now? I'm sorry, Lord, you will not believe it, but CNN just called it back! What have I done to deserve this? Carnahan's not dead, they're saying. He's feeling much better ... What's this? Carnahan won? Take me now, God, take me now!

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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