How bad can it be?

A faith-based judicial system? Country club vouchers? A Gore voter considers a Bush future.

Published February 22, 2001 11:51PM (EST)

Worst case scenario: faith-based judicial system. Does this automatically mean, wooo-ooo, Inquisition? Hardly. This administration has invited a diversity of believers to have faith in it. On certain charges, a Rasta court could be a blessing. Or a Mormon one. And even if we draw an evangelical venue, it's our sin that's condemned, not us, so why get our nose out of joint?

Let's review. We voted for Gore. And it didn't work out. And not one single tank was sighted in one single street. How many countries' defense establishments, if any had tanks half as snazzy as ours, would resist the temptation to bring some out just to see if they work? And yet when fresh-faced incoming vice-presidential employees sat down, aglow, at their new Old Executive Office Building terminals, what did they find? Out-transitioning vandals had ... done things ... to the W's on the keyboards. As if that weren't enough, they had left graffiti saying ... what?

"Redrum"? "Helter-Skelter"? "Old poopy Republicans are not multicultural"?

We don't know, exactly. The new administration graciously respected the public's and Matt Drudge's right to use their imagination. But according to one newspaper account, "The destruction was so vast that a telecommunications staffer with more than a quarter-century of service was seen sobbing near his office one night."

Also, OK, the Clintons stole furniture.

When they had to know, full well, Mr. and Ms. Political Genius, duh, no way they had it wired with the Supreme Court.

So. Now we realize what kind of clueless smartypants hooligans our extorted tax dollars were lining the pockets of. And yet ... some of us still seem to be hanging back from a freely proffered era of Republican good feeling.

What are we afraid of?

Let's say our new attorney general does tend to break the ice by asking, "Do you have the same sexual preference as most men?" Don't forget, this administration has a sense of humor. Ever hear of something called a straight line? Could be, the A.G. wants us to come right back at him, with some kind of too-snarky liberalesque one-liner that we clearly don't really mean:

"Tell you what. I'll flip you for it."

"I'll say! And the funny thing is, I used to be a man."

"Not really, but it's better than nothing."

"Now that Tom and Nicole have split?"

"I should say so! But I'm married."


"Well, sure, but where are you going to find anything you can be certain is organic elk musk today, unless it's home-raised, and then you get attached."

"In detention, or out?"

"As long as it's furtive and anonymous, I'm your huckleberry."

"Oh yeah. Heck yeah. Can you give me a hint?"

"Yes, but a Methodist woman will do in a pinch."

"Is that a drop of Crisco, or are you just glad to see me?"

And, of course, with tongue firmly in cheek, the No. 1 answer to give the attorney general when he asks whether your sexual preference is the same as most men: "Most? So all the votes have been counted?"

All right, maybe that would be pushing our luck. Then too, who among us (even if we, personally, have been spared the actual sight of a telecommunications veteran in tears) can honestly say, under oath, "There is nothing whatsoever I could learn from a chance to take a hard look at my sense of humor"?

Maybe it's true, as Republican turncoat (what was he thinking?) David Brock writes, that Republican stalwart Tony Blankley did write that Gore supporters "might as well be Martian reptiles for all the moral kinship they have with us." Well gee, I think we might want to show old Tony that he in all good faith has got the wrong impression, don't you? Republican journalist (see, not an oxymoron) David Brooks writes that the Grand Old Party is divided into two camps: Reaganite academic anti-liberal ideologues who regard the other camp as "hapless anal-retentives," and Bushite nose-to-the-grindstone corporate-managerial types who regard the other camp as "hapless geeks." Anyone who can't find a place for himself, or even herself, somewhere along that rollicking spectrum might want to give some thought to coming down off of whatever. (Speaking of which, aren't you glad you weren't a parent in the '60s? Or a hall monitor?)

In our hearts we must know that nobody really wants every non-criminal in America to have an assault weapon. But if we don't demand that every non-criminal in America have the right to an assault weapon, then what happens the next time Gore zealots start desecrating keyboards? What are we going to do, reason with them?

Can it be that some of us, deep down inside, worry that we have neglected to develop the marketplace chops that Republicanism rewards? Well, then, let's put our raggedy-ass shoulder behind the voucher concept. Not just private-school vouchers, but country-club vouchers, third-car vouchers, tax-attorney vouchers, margin-call vouchers. Okay, maybe a $500 personal dietitian voucher will be of scant use to anyone who cannot pretty well afford a personal dietitian already. Vouchers will, however, get a certain amount of public money into the private sector, and that will put fat-cat public school teachers' feet -- for example -- to the fire. Figure of speech.

This administration intends to bring back the missile shield defense, which cultural trendies -- and isn't it interesting how they sentimentalize Mutual Assured Destruction? -- have mocked for so long. Did it ever occur to you that "Star Wars" just might be a misnomer? If every visionary defense program must have an old-movie tag, OK, why not "Star Spangled Rhythm"?

Check it out: Paramount, 1942, big musical finale has Bing Crosby backed by choir and Mount Rushmore mockup. Mellowly, Der Bingle puts a sour anti-flag skeptic in his place as representatives of every undivisive American walk of life, including the Confederate dead, hum spirituals and tell what the Stars and Stripes mean to them: "tracking rabbits in the snow" ... "throwing pop bottles at the umpire" ... "You know any other country where a Brooklyn girl can become a movie star?" Crosby, you may have noticed, is cool again. (OK, early Crosby. So what are you into, trip-hop? Can't we all get along?) "Star Spangled Rhythm," incidentally, was made for under $1 million.

Pollution bother you? That's where Republicans "speak softly, but carry a big carrot." Do you think Republicans love pollution? It's a loaded term. Perhaps we who have expended so much capital on politically correct phraseology -- i.e. "freedom of expression" for "smut" -- can help unpack this term "pollution." Call it environmental influence. So here's the thing: Little as Republicans enjoy effluents, they hate taxes (and we love taxes?) more. So if a petrochemical plant gets a tax credit for willingly influencing the environment less than it might, then both an irritant and an evil have been reduced.

Now. Who is in a better position to know how much a plant is influencing the environment than the plant itself? Let the plant be the judge, and we reduce what is the greatest evil of all in a civil society: government.

But wait. Is it the government's money? No. The government has no way of making money -- except in the very limited sense of minting it. The money is the plant's. Who is the government, then, to give anyone a "tax credit"? So let's get this straight: The plant charges the government a tax debit.

As to a certain ... issue. If we can just do our part to avoid raising that issue. And a couple of others. Know what I'm saying? Nuff said. And about that whole "wilderness" thing? Please. If we get lost in that wilderness, we'll be mighty glad to see a derrick. And let's face it: Wildlife bites.

This land can be our land. All a recovering Democrat need do is apply to the office of Rep. Dan Burton, 218 E. Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515, phone (202) 225-2276, fax (202) 225-0016, for a pardon.

By Roy Blount Jr.

The most recent of Roy Blount Jr.'s many books is "Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story."

MORE FROM Roy Blount Jr.

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