Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan claimed victory Wednesday in November's disputed Florida election, citing the results of a privately funded recount at odds with the Miami Herald's results released Tuesday. The complex but nonexhaustive tally done by Herr Volkmann Strausser of Reich Tech U. in Clearwater, Fla., is based on a novel but not implausible theory of voter intent.
"I know what the voter's intent is," said Buchanan. "It's just a matter of divining it."
Disdaining the examination of punch cards, Buchanan's consultant, Dr. Strausser, has instead conducted interviews with 1,063 retired residents in Palm Beach County. In his study, "POTUS Buchanan: Deep down, you know you want him," he claims to have determined that under certain conditions, for instance, if they were dead, a majority of voters in Palm Beach County would have preferred Buchanan in the election. The only thing stopping them from voting for him, says Strausser, was their present condition.
"We cannot let such practical impediments interfere with divining the true desires of the electorate," Buchanan said in a prepared statement. "Democracy depends on knowing the people's hearts, or at least the people's heart conditions."
"The fact that they are alive," Strausser said, "is a red herring. Their intent is what we must honor." Strausser claimed that a majority having stated they would prefer Buchanan as president "over their dead bodies" was all the evidence he needed to declare Buchanan the winner.
"Don't quibble with me semantically. I'll put your feet in 'semant' and send you to the bottom of the Gulf," he threatened this reporter.
The Washington Post reported that upon hearing news of Strausser's findings, Buchanan had begun circling the White House in a Chevy van equipped with camping gear and a small library of books on European history, mathematics and "black magic."
Buchanan and Strausser were not the only ones to claim novel interpretations of the still-disputed race. Manfred Hingle of rural Lake County, Fla., published a pamphlet Monday outlining 57 ways the election results could be viewed to produce novel results such as electing the King of Spain, Charles Manson and Christine Todd Whitman.
"Hold Pat Buchanan by his feet over Tampa Bay for 16 hours. Multiply the number of times he threatens to punch you by the number of frequent flier miles collected by Republican operatives between Nov. 8 and Jan. 1, divide that by Katherine Harris' annual mascara budget, write this number on a slip of paper, stick it in your pocket and then jump off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge; this will eliminate you from the voter pool and have a lasting, if not immediately evident, effect on future elections."
Other tips included counting not the punch cards but the chads and performing numerological calculations based on candidates' -- and non-candidates' -- birthdays to determine who should win; mounting an airboat expedition to the remotest Everglades to find someone who has not yet formed an opinion on the Florida recount and asking that person who should win; and shooting all the people in Florida except five and having them draw straws.
Former presidential candidate Al Gore was reported to be "carefully studying" Hingle's book.