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Boogers Are My Beat: More Lies, but Some Actual Journalism

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The New York Times calls him "the funniest man in America," and his legions of fans agree, laughing and snorting as they put his books on bestseller lists nationwide. Now Dave Barry gives us the real scoop on such cultural phenomena as: The scientific research for the world's funniest joke (you can bet it includes the word "weasel"); RV camping in the Wal-Mart parking lot; Outwitting "smart" kitchen appliances and service contracts; Elections in Florida ("You can't spell Florida without 'duh'"); The Olympics, ...
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Boogers Are My Beat: More Lies, but Some Actual Journalism

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Overview

The New York Times calls him "the funniest man in America," and his legions of fans agree, laughing and snorting as they put his books on bestseller lists nationwide. Now Dave Barry gives us the real scoop on such cultural phenomena as: The scientific research for the world's funniest joke (you can bet it includes the word "weasel"); RV camping in the Wal-Mart parking lot; Outwitting "smart" kitchen appliances and service contracts; Elections in Florida ("You can't spell Florida without 'duh'"); The Olympics, where people from all over the world come together to accuse each other of cheating; The truth about the Dakotas, the Lone Ranger, and feng shui; The choice between death and taxes; and much, much more.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The New York Times has referred to Barry as the "funniest man in America," and he is funny, to be sure, but his humor is exhausting to the listener. He throws funny words and phrases into bloated sentences like Velcro, hoping that some of them stick. Whether he's reporting on the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Yorkshire terriers, or presidential primaries, he overstuffs every sentence with "humor"; after a while it just gets to be too much. Add Dick Hill's frenetic reading and you are left with a feeling of "enough already!" Only when Barry presents two somber pieces on September 11 does he mercifully stop with the barrage of whiz-bang zingers, but by that time many will have given up. Barry has a legion of fans who apparently have a different sense of humor than this reviewer, so most libraries will probably want to add this to their collection, budgets permitting.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fans may be surprised that the indefatigable comic somehow omitted his name from the title, they will be happy to find "boogers" emblazoned up there on Barry’s latest gathering of columns. His journalist’s beat also covers long forgotten historical topics like the Great Florida Presidential Election Recount, the last Winter Olympics, and Gary Condit. He reports on the dances of Republican conventioneers and the hip-hop of Bill Clinton. Barry, accompanied by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, climbs Miami’s Mt. Trashmore and, among other studly things, considers Humvees. (He draws a manly line at using guest towels, however.) Of course, there’s material about women, income taxes, and a running debate with North Dakota. The formula ("seriously, folks") may be running a bit threadbare, but any Federal Statute or Law of Nature notwithstanding, he’s still funny. If you don’t think so, you are a Bad Person. Also included: Barry’s two somber and acutely written pieces on the events of 9/11. Boogers remain all his, though. (10 line drawings) Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590869307
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 Hours
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 7.34 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Barry has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. His columns for the Miami Herald were syndicated worldwide, and he is the author of a number of bestselling books, including the recently published Peter and the Starcatchers with Ridley Pearson. He lives in Miami, where he drives very nervously.

Biography

In the introduction to Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down, the author addresses the desirability of his job as a humor writer and syndicated columnist. "It looks so easy!" he wrote. "...Every year, hundreds of thousands of people try their hand at this demanding profession. After a few months, almost all of them have given up and gone back to the ninth grade."

Yes, Barry is juvenile at times -- but he has achieved the kind of success that can only come from combining a juvenile mind with intelligence, timing, and a keen eye for the absurd. Favorite Barry targets include government inanity, dogs, guys, the Internet, and other oddities of life. He also specializes in weird news and urban myths involving UFO hunters, Pop-Tart science, and toilets. Many of these essays feature the line that has become his catchphrase, "I am not making this up." (Unless, of course, he is introducing something serious and daunting such as a book about the federal government, in which case he reassures that he has made everything up.)

Usually, though, he's not making it up. What he's doing is making it very funny. Whether the target is Congress or commercials, Barry refuses to take anything seriously, least of all himself – but he manages to convey some pretty indicting truths in the process. He's a master of irony and visual punchlines, sometimes interrupting himself with lists, snippets of dialogue, or other on-topic digressions. On the subject of turning 50 and dealing with waning eyesight (a "good thing" about aging, because "you can't read anything"), Barry describes finding restaurant menus suddenly printed "in letters the height of bacteria." He continues: "For some reason, everybody else seemed to be able to read the menus. Not wishing to draw attention to myself, I started ordering my food by simply pointing to a likely looking blur.

ME (pointing to a blur): I'll have this.
WAITER: You'll have "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks"?
ME: Make that medium rare."

Barry has had the most successful and prolific publishing career of any working newspaper columnist, and his humor never seems to go out of style. In 1999, he decided to try his hand at fiction. The result was Big Trouble, a comic thriller à la Carl Hiassen (though filled more with gags than guns) that Entertainment Weekly proclaimed "... not only very funny, [but] sure-footed, even-handed, levelheaded, and other leading book review adjectives." In 2004, he and Ridley Pearson collaborated on Peter and the Starcatchers, a clever prequel to Peter Pan that spawned two additional novels and a series of spin-off children's chapter books.

Along with several other published authors, Barry is a member of the musical group Rock Bottom Remainders. In assessing the band's talents, he has been quoted as saying: "They are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud."

Good To Know

The Rock Bottom Remainders was originally organized by a publicist to perform at the 1992 American Booksellers Association convention. The members -- which include (or have included) Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Barbara Kingsolver, Mitch Albom, and Matt Groening -- even took their show on the road at one point, turning it into the now out-of-print Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude.

Some things never change: Barry was elected class clown by his Pleasantville High School class in 1965.

Barry got his start in journalism at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pennsylvania, then worked as a business writing consultant before joining the Miami Herald in 1983.

Attempts to convert Barry's humor to the screen have been less than memorable. The early '90s CBS sitcom based on two of his books and starring Harry Anderson, Dave's World, was short-lived; the spring 2002 release Big Trouble, starring Tim Allen, didn't fare well at the box office. Barry did, however, get a cameo in the latter.

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    1. Hometown:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 3, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Armonk, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

A Wacky Path for Politics

Memo: ELECTION 2000

Before I analyze the presidential election, I want to make a statement, on behalf of South Florida, to the state and local candidates who ran all those TV ads, especially Elaine Bloom, Clay Shaw, Bill McCollum and Bill Nelson: We hope that you and all your media advisers rot in Campaign Hell, Okay? We hope that demons tape your eyelids open and force you to watch your own TV commercials. We hope that every thousand years, the demons hold an election to decide which one of you should be allowed to leave Campaign Hell, and the winner is always: None of the Above.

There! I feel better! Now, let's analyze the presidential election. As you can imagine, I was up all night scrutinizing the returns. (NOTE TO EDITOR: The truth is, I'm writing this while the polls are still open. I don't plan to watch the returns. I plan to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and be asleep by 9:15 p.m. So I need some help finishing this analysis.)

The key to presidential elections is the Electoral College, an institution created by the Founding Fathers so that Tim Russert would have something to talk about. Under this system, each state receives a certain number of electoral votes, based on how stupid the state's motto is. Thus, New York (motto: "Driver Carries No Cash") has 33 electoral votes; whereas North Dakota (motto: "Coming Soon—Plumbing!") has none.

This system can produce some quirky results. In 1884, the Electoral College declared that Grover Cleveland was the winner, even though it turned out that there was no such person. Later, the Electoral College got a bee in its bonnet and elected Franklin D. Roosevelt president twenty-seven times in a row. Still later, it elected Richard M. Nixon, despite abundant documented evidence that he was Richard M. Nixon.

So the Electoral College may seem to be a wacky way to elect a president. But it's better than any other system on earth, except the system we use to fill every other office. And because of this system, one of the keys to Tuesday's election was the 25 electoral votes of Florida (motto: "Drugs Are Legal, But God Help You if You Get Caught with a Citrus Tree!").

To win Florida, both candidates needed the support of our 398 million elderly residents, all of whom vote. Voting is one of their major forms of entertainment, along with eating dinner at 4:30 p.m. and failing to notice green lights while sitting behind the wheels of their 1986 Oldsmobiles. To win the votes of these people, both Al Gore and George W. Bush promised that, if elected, they would have the government give the elderly huge quantities of drugs. So one definite outcome of the election is that, for the next four years, our seniors, God bless them, will be stoned out of their gourds. This will probably improve their driving.

But the elderly vote was only one of many factors that determined the outcome of the election, which is why all the experts said it was "too close to call." What a bunch of morons. I predicted the outcome of this election right on the money in a column I wrote on April 17, 1997. My exact words were: "The next president of the United States will definitely be (NOTE TO EDITOR: Please insert the winner's name here)."

The question now is: What lies ahead for the nation, with this man at the helm? What kind of a man IS this man, assuming that he is, in fact, a man? The answers will determine the future of this great nation, and we all, as Americans, must think about them very hard. But right now, Buffy is starting.

Wrong! It Wasn't Humphrey

We in the news media have an announcement to make.

It turns out we made a few teensy mistakes in our coverage of the presidential election. Oh, we were correct on the big stuff, such as what day the election was held, the names of the candidates, and how many total states there are. But we messed up on some of the minor details, such as who, technically, got elected president.

This happened because, here in the news media, our focus is on speed. When we get hold of some new and possibly inaccurate information, our highest priority is to get it to you, the public, before our competitors do. If the news media owned airlines, there would be a lot less concern about how many planes crashed, and a lot more concern about whose plane hit the ground first.

Nowhere is the speed competition more fierce than in TV news. This is why if you decided—God help you—to stay informed on election night by watching television, you saw the following sequence of events:

*First, the major networks confidently declared, based on a careful analysis of the voting patterns of approximately four people, that Al Gore had won Florida.

*A little while later, the networks announced that—Whoops!—Gore had NOT won Florida.

*Still later, the networks confidently declared that George W. Bush had won Florida, and the presidency.

*Next, the networks explained, in some detail, how Bush had done it, and what he would do as forty-third president of the United States.

*Then the networks declared that—Whoops again!—Bush had NOT won Florida.

*Then the networks declared that the World Series was actually won by the Mets.

Okay, I made that last one up. But all the other stuff actually happened. In other words, if you had hoped to inform yourself about the most important story in the world by watching network TV news—the most expensive and sophisticated news-gathering operation in history—you actually wound up less informed than if you had spent the night staring at your refrigerator.

I am not saying the newspapers did any better. Oh, we tried to get you the story. We were in constant contact with our news sources. The problem is, our news sources are (Don't tell anybody!) the TV networks. So we were just as confused as anybody else, which is why an early edition of the Herald had a front-page headline declaring that the election had been won by the late Hubert Humphrey.

In fact, as I write these words, NOBODY knows who won the presidential election, because nobody knows who won Florida. We're having a recount, which should be pretty entertaining, because Florida's No. 3 industry, behind tourism and skin cancer, is voter fraud. Here in Miami, we've had elections where the dead voters outnumbered the live ones. Elsewhere in the state there have been reports of irregular voting procedures, including one Palm Beach County precinct where the "ballots" given to voters were actually pizza coupons. (As of right now, Extra Cheese holds a slim lead over Pepperoni, but Tim Russert says it is "still too close to call.")

So this election, which the nation had desperately hoped would be over by now, is going to drag on—nobody knows how long—and all because of Florida. We are a REALLY popular state right now. It wouldn't surprise me if, after this is all over, we get voted out of the union. That really would be a shame. Because I think Humphrey is going to make a damned good president.

Why Not Poke a Hole in a Candidate's Eyeball?

I think it's an arrow thing.

I'm talking about this deal with the ballots in Palm Beach County.

As the whole world knows by now, thanks to Florida, the presidential election has come to a grinding halt. Lawsuits are being filed. People are marching in the streets. Political pundits are so excited that they have to change their underwear on an hourly basis. Jesse Jackson has taken time out from his busy schedule of garnering publicity elsewhere so he can devote all his efforts to garnering publicity here.

And the scary part is, nobody knows how long this will drag on. We may not know who our forty-third president is until it's time to elect our forty-fourth.

At the heart of all this mess is Palm Beach County, where many people are now saying they didn't know whom they were voting for. Every time you turn on the news you see distraught Palm Beach voters saying that they accidentally voted for the wrong person, or two people, or nobody, or Queen Elizabeth II.

These people blame the ballot, which they say was very confusing. The way they talk, it sounds as though to understand this ballot, you would need, at minimum, a degree in nuclear physics. Now, I have seen pictures of this ballot. And although I think the design could have been better, it doesn't seem all THAT complicated. I mean, for each candidate's name, there's an arrow pointing to a punch hole. If you follow the arrow, you get to the correct hole, right?

And that's where I think the problem arises. Because, for whatever reason, many people in Florida do NOT understand arrows. If you have ever driven down here, you know what I mean. You'll be at an intersection, waiting in the left-turn lane, with a big painted arrow on the street, pointing left; and a sign overhead saying left turn only with an arrow pointing left; and then the light will change, and there will be a green arrow, pointing left, and 50 percent of the time the driver in front of you will do . . . nothing! It's as if this driver has NO IDEA what the arrows mean! Sometimes—and if you don't believe me, then you have never driven in South Florida—the driver will attempt to turn RIGHT.

So I think that, given the population down here, it was a big mistake to put arrows on the ballot. It would be better to use a system easier to grasp, such as putting actual photographs of the candidates on the ballot; voters could indicate their preference by using their hole-punchers to poke the candidate of their choice in the eyeball.

For now, though, we need to figure out what to do about this election. Here's what I say we do: I say we take the 25 electoral votes away from Florida and give them to some less-populated but more-deserving state—say Delaware, or North Dakota—that is at least capable of figuring out which candidate it voted for. Do you think this is a good idea? Please take a moment to let me know by punching the correct hole in the ballot below:

Okay, I'm tabulating your results now, and the winner is . . . Pat Buchanan. I'm moving to Sweden.

Now It's Time to Say Thanks for the Chads That Don't Count

Boy, am I ever thankful.

I'm talking about Miami-Dade County's decision not to recount its presidential ballots after all.

As you know, in Palm Beach and Broward counties, groups of wretched people have been spending long, dreary days looking at ballots, squinting at pregnant chads, gay and lesbian chads, dimpled chads, freckled chads, Kentucky Fried Chads, the Artist Formerly Known as Chad, etc.

Their goal is to figure out what in God's name the voters were thinking when they did whatever they did to these ballots. This is not easy, because a lot of these voters apparently have the functional IQs of starfish. There's no other way to explain some of the things they did in the voting booth. ("Hey! I think I'll vote for . . . TWO presidents!").

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for these recounts. I agree with the thousands of out-of-state lawyers currently clogging every Holiday Inn in the state: We must discern the intent of EVERY VOTER. In fact, I think we should count people who had planned to vote, but, for whatever reason, never got around to actually going to the polls. I think we should count people who failed to register, but have a good excuse, such as they forgot. I think we should count people who live in less-dramatic states such as Delaware, but would have moved to Florida and registered if they had known how exciting this election was going to be.

Why should these people be disenfranchised? We can discern their intentions, with the help of out-of-state lawyers!

So I believe that recounts, in principle, are a swell idea. At least I did when they involved only Palm Beach and Broward counties. But I became VERY nervous when Miami-Dade County decided to recount its ballots. Because it appeared likely that the Miami-Dade recount would have been the deciding factor in the election. In other words—and if the following statement does not send a chill down your spine, then you do not have a spine—Miami-Dade would have chosen the next president.

This would not be good for America. Because if there's one thing that Miami-Dade has proven, time and again, it is this: WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO COUNT. We're the county that cheerfully paid a contractor $400,000 too much for "royal" palm trees that were more like palm shrubs. (Although I still believe these trees should be allowed to vote.) We're also the county that paid more than $1 million for road-striping work that was not, if you want to get technical about it, done, in the sense of stripes physically appearing on a road.

And Miami is of course the city that elected a mayor (at least temporarily) with the help of votes cast by, among others, Manuel Yip, who, at the time of the election, turned out to have been deceased for four years.

My point is that, when it comes to keeping an accurate count of things—dollars, trees, live voters vs. dead voters, whatever—Miami-Dade has a poor track record. Not to mention the fact that our voters have probably done some REALLY weird things with their ballots ("Hey, this one has some kind of white powder on it!" "Yeah? Well THIS one has a bullet hole.")

So letting Miami-Dade recount its votes, and thus pick the next president, would have been not unlike turning the controls of a 747 over to a chimpanzee. There is no telling WHERE we'd wind up. There could be a BIG vote surge for Elián.

That's why, today, I am thankful. I'm thankful that Miami-Dade ha—incredibly—done the sane thing, and decided to stay out of this mess.

The rest of the United States (which already wishes that Florida still belonged to Spain) can blame Palm Beach and Broward for whatever happens. For once, Miami-Dade won't be the Lunatic County. We should all be thankful for that, and today, when we prepare to carve our Thanksgiving turkey, we should pause to reflect on our good fortune, and to imagine—in the true spirit of Thanksgiving—that our turkey is an out-of-state lawyer.

Party Time, Texas-Style: Even the Cows Had a Ball

WASHINGTON

Every four years, this stodgy city kicks off its wingtip shoes. Then it puts on shoes that are even less comfortable, and celebrates the inauguration of a president.

And so the federal government—as only the federal government knows how—has gone into Festivity Implementation and Facilitation Mode. Unfortunately, the weather was awful. But the rain, freezing temperatures and occasional death from exposure have not put a damper on the inauguration and its upbeat theme: "We're Cold, And We're Wet."

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Table of Contents

Introduction 13
A Wacky Path for Politics 18
Wrong! It Wasn't Humphrey 22
Why Not Poke a Hole in a Candidate's Eyeball? 26
Now It's Time to Say Thanks for the Chads That Don't Count 30
Party Time, Texas-Style 34
It's Party Time, As Philly Gets Phunky 39
Party Politics 43
"Rolling Roll Call" Makes Bad Idea Last Even Longer 47
Encounter with Falwell Gets Surprisingly Intimate 51
George W. Survives His GOP Convention Speech 55
Real People, Real Issues, Full Nudity 59
There's Glitz, Glamour, the Clintons--but Where's Al? 63
Campaign Trail, Freeways, Finally Lead to a Vast Parking Lot 67
Joe Goes Hollywood As Al Plans to Be "Riveting" 71
Now It's Safe to Do Some Unconventional Thinking 75
Call Security 80
Frozen Lips, Barefoot Skaters--and Who Let All Those Dogs Out? 84
For a Weird Cult, They're Pretty Friendly 88
Competitive Ski Jumping Is a Weighty Issue 91
Gosh! Heck! Utahans Angry About Skating 94
Don't Trust Any Judge with Two First Names 98
Buses and Mucus 101
In a Battle of Wits with Kitchen Appliances, I'm Toast 106
Camping at Wal-Mart Parking Lot Is Survival of Fittest 111
War on Smoking Always Has Room for Another Lawyer 116
Fill Out the Census and Win Your Own Bureaucracy 120
Choice Between Death and Taxes Gets Easier and Easier 125
Don't Forget to Consider Feng Shui--and Other Deck Tips 130
Was It "Hi-ho" or "Hi-yo," or Did the Lone Ranger Have a Lisp? 134
Who Was That Masked Social Security Recipient? 139
He Didn't Just Buy a House--He Bought a Home Repair Industry 144
How to Drive a Man Wild with Desire? Even a Stiff Breeze Works 148
Your Child Deserves a Halloween Costume by Calvin Klein 153
100 Years of Solitude, Waiting for Customer Service 158
Don't Fear to Tread 163
Terror on Flight 611--There's a Baby on Board, Ready to Shriek 168
Humvee Satisfies a Man's Lust for Winches 172
Dead or Alive, Turkeys Can Fowl Up Your Life 177
By the Way, Those Turkey Snakes Have Giant Fangs, Too 182
A GPS Helps a Guy Always Know Where His Couch Is 187
Road to Romantic Ruin Paved with Chain Saws 192
Nice Words About the IRS on the Way to Leavenworth 196
Daddy's Little Girl a Republican Barbie 200
Onward, Upward Go the Sherpa and Schlepper 204
Considerate Guests Use the Gas Station Bathroom 208
Ban Cellphones--Unless You're Attacked by a Giant Squid 213
Quality! Craftsmanship! Service Contract! 218
At 17 (Months), Her Music Tastes Match Dad's 222
He's Got a Broom and He's Not Afraid to Use It 227
There's No Denying Nature's Wake-up Call 231
Grab Your Pajamas, It's World Series Time 235
Burger King Puts Workers' Feet to the Fire--Literally 240
A Truly Terrifying Act 244
Owner's Manual Step No. 1 249
Cap 'n' Gown? I'll Take the Burger 'n' Fries 254
Fitting Into That Bikini Is Easy As (Eating) Pie 259
Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing 263
Get the (Birthday) Party Started 268
It's Oscar Time--Prepare the Blow Darts 273
Supersize Your Fries with This Column? 278
North Dakota Wants Its Place in the Sun 283
There's a Hoover Dam ... and Now, the Dave Sewage Lifter 288
N.D.'s New Barry Building Takes Your Breath Away 293
Steve's Schnapps Kept the Frost Off Dave's Bobber 298
Send in Your Weasel Jokes (Unless You're Canadian) 303
Penelope Cruz Is NOT Having Dave's Baby 308
Learning to Love the Computer, Warts and All 312
It's All About Cloning, Not Clowning 316
Book-Tour Blues 320
Just for Being Americans 326
Hallowed Ground 330
Conclusion 347
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First Chapter

A Wacky Path for Politics

Memo: ELECTION 2000

Before I analyze the presidential election, I want to make a statement, on behalf of South Florida, to the state and local candidates who ran all those TV ads, especially Elaine Bloom, Clay Shaw, Bill McCollum and Bill Nelson: We hope that you and all your media advisers rot in Campaign Hell, Okay? We hope that demons tape your eyelids open and force you to watch your own TV commercials. We hope that every thousand years, the demons hold an election to decide which one of you should be allowed to leave Campaign Hell, and the winner is always: None of the Above.

There! I feel better! Now, let's analyze the presidential election. As you can imagine, I was up all night scrutinizing the returns. (NOTE TO EDITOR: The truth is, I'm writing this while the polls are still open. I don't plan to watch the returns. I plan to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and be asleep by 9:15 p.m. So I need some help finishing this analysis.)

The key to presidential elections is the Electoral College, an institution created by the Founding Fathers so that Tim Russert would have something to talk about. Under this system, each state receives a certain number of electoral votes, based on how stupid the state's motto is. Thus, New York (motto: "Driver Carries No Cash") has 33 electoral votes; whereas North Dakota (motto: "Coming Soon—Plumbing!") has none.

This system can produce some quirky results. In 1884, the Electoral College declared that Grover Cleveland was the winner, even though it turned out that there was no such person. Later, the Electoral College got a bee in its bonnet and electedFranklin D. Roosevelt president twenty-seven times in a row. Still later, it elected Richard M. Nixon, despite abundant documented evidence that he was Richard M. Nixon.

So the Electoral College may seem to be a wacky way to elect a president. But it's better than any other system on earth, except the system we use to fill every other office. And because of this system, one of the keys to Tuesday's election was the 25 electoral votes of Florida (motto: "Drugs Are Legal, But God Help You if You Get Caught with a Citrus Tree!").

To win Florida, both candidates needed the support of our 398 million elderly residents, all of whom vote. Voting is one of their major forms of entertainment, along with eating dinner at 4:30 p.m. and failing to notice green lights while sitting behind the wheels of their 1986 Oldsmobiles. To win the votes of these people, both Al Gore and George W. Bush promised that, if elected, they would have the government give the elderly huge quantities of drugs. So one definite outcome of the election is that, for the next four years, our seniors, God bless them, will be stoned out of their gourds. This will probably improve their driving.

But the elderly vote was only one of many factors that determined the outcome of the election, which is why all the experts said it was "too close to call." What a bunch of morons. I predicted the outcome of this election right on the money in a column I wrote on April 17, 1997. My exact words were: "The next president of the United States will definitely be (NOTE TO EDITOR: Please insert the winner's name here)."

The question now is: What lies ahead for the nation, with this man at the helm? What kind of a man IS this man, assuming that he is, in fact, a man? The answers will determine the future of this great nation, and we all, as Americans, must think about them very hard. But right now, Buffy is starting.



Wrong! It Wasn't Humphrey

We in the news media have an announcement to make.

It turns out we made a few teensy mistakes in our coverage of the presidential election. Oh, we were correct on the big stuff, such as what day the election was held, the names of the candidates, and how many total states there are. But we messed up on some of the minor details, such as who, technically, got elected president.

This happened because, here in the news media, our focus is on speed. When we get hold of some new and possibly inaccurate information, our highest priority is to get it to you, the public, before our competitors do. If the news media owned airlines, there would be a lot less concern about how many planes crashed, and a lot more concern about whose plane hit the ground first.

Nowhere is the speed competition more fierce than in TV news. This is why if you decided--God help you--to stay informed on election night by watching television, you saw the following sequence of events:

*First, the major networks confidently declared, based on a careful analysis of the voting patterns of approximately four people, that Al Gore had won Florida.

*A little while later, the networks announced that--Whoops!--Gore had NOT won Florida.

*Still later, the networks confidently declared that George W. Bush had won Florida, and the presidency.

*Next, the networks explained, in some detail, how Bush had done it, and what he would do as forty-third president of the United States.

*Then the networks declared that--Whoops again!--Bush had NOT won Florida.

*Then the networks declared that the World Series was actually won by the Mets.

Okay, I made that last one up. But all the other stuff actually happened. In other words, if you had hoped to inform yourself about the most important story in the world by watching network TV news--the most expensive and sophisticated news-gathering operation in history--you actually wound up less informed than if you had spent the night staring at your refrigerator.

I am not saying the newspapers did any better. Oh, we tried to get you the story. We were in constant contact with our news sources. The problem is, our news sources are (Don't tell anybody!) the TV networks. So we were just as confused as anybody else, which is why an early edition of the Herald had a front-page headline declaring that the election had been won by the late Hubert Humphrey.

In fact, as I write these words, NOBODY knows who won the presidential election, because nobody knows who won Florida. We're having a recount, which should be pretty entertaining, because Florida's No. 3 industry, behind tourism and skin cancer, is voter fraud. Here in Miami, we've had elections where the dead voters outnumbered the live ones. Elsewhere in the state there have been reports of irregular voting procedures, including one Palm Beach County precinct where the "ballots" given to voters were actually pizza coupons. (As of right now, Extra Cheese holds a slim lead over Pepperoni, but Tim Russert says it is "still too close to call.")

So this election, which the nation had desperately hoped would be over by now, is going to drag on—nobody knows how long—and all because of Florida. We are a REALLY popular state right now. It wouldn't surprise me if, after this is all over, we get voted out of the union. That really would be a shame. Because I think Humphrey is going to make a damned good president.



Why Not Poke a Hole in a Candidate's Eyeball?

I think it's an arrow thing.

I'm talking about this deal with the ballots in Palm Beach County.

As the whole world knows by now, thanks to Florida, the presidential election has come to a grinding halt. Lawsuits are being filed. People are marching in the streets. Political pundits are so excited that they have to change their underwear on an hourly basis. Jesse Jackson has taken time out from his busy schedule of garnering publicity elsewhere so he can devote all his efforts to garnering publicity here.

And the scary part is, nobody knows how long this will drag on. We may not know who our forty-third president is until it's time to elect our forty-fourth.

At the heart of all this mess is Palm Beach County, where many people are now saying they didn't know whom they were voting for. Every time you turn on the news you see distraught Palm Beach voters saying that they accidentally voted for the wrong person, or two people, or nobody, or Queen Elizabeth II.

These people blame the ballot, which they say was very confusing. The way they talk, it sounds as though to understand this ballot, you would need, at minimum, a degree in nuclear physics. Now, I have seen pictures of this ballot. And although I think the design could have been better, it doesn't seem all THAT complicated. I mean, for each candidate's name, there's an arrow pointing to a punch hole. If you follow the arrow, you get to the correct hole, right?

And that's where I think the problem arises. Because, for whatever reason, many people in Florida do NOT understand arrows. If you have ever driven down here, you know what I mean. You'll be at an intersection, waiting in the left-turn lane, with a big painted arrow on the street, pointing left; and a sign overhead saying left turn only with an arrow pointing left; and then the light will change, and there will be a green arrow, pointing left, and 50 percent of the time the driver in front of you will do . . . nothing! It's as if this driver has NO IDEA what the arrows mean! Sometimes--and if you don't believe me, then you have never driven in South Florida--the driver will attempt to turn RIGHT.

So I think that, given the population down here, it was a big mistake to put arrows on the ballot. It would be better to use a system easier to grasp, such as putting actual photographs of the candidates on the ballot; voters could indicate their preference by using their hole-punchers to poke the candidate of their choice in the eyeball.

For now, though, we need to figure out what to do about this election. Here's what I say we do: I say we take the 25 electoral votes away from Florida and give them to some less-populated but more-deserving state—say Delaware, or North Dakota—that is at least capable of figuring out which candidate it voted for. Do you think this is a good idea? Please take a moment to let me know by punching the correct hole in the ballot below:

Okay, I'm tabulating your results now, and the winner is . . . Pat Buchanan. I'm moving to Sweden.


Now It's Time to Say Thanks for the Chads That Don't Count

Boy, am I ever thankful.

I'm talking about Miami-Dade County's decision not to recount its presidential ballots after all.

As you know, in Palm Beach and Broward counties, groups of wretched people have been spending long, dreary days looking at ballots, squinting at pregnant chads, gay and lesbian chads, dimpled chads, freckled chads, Kentucky Fried Chads, the Artist Formerly Known as Chad, etc.

Their goal is to figure out what in God's name the voters were thinking when they did whatever they did to these ballots. This is not easy, because a lot of these voters apparently have the functional IQs of starfish. There's no other way to explain some of the things they did in the voting booth. ("Hey! I think I'll vote for . . . TWO presidents!").

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for these recounts. I agree with the thousands of out-of-state lawyers currently clogging every Holiday Inn in the state: We must discern the intent of EVERY VOTER. In fact, I think we should count people who had planned to vote, but, for whatever reason, never got around to actually going to the polls. I think we should count people who failed to register, but have a good excuse, such as they forgot. I think we should count people who live in less-dramatic states such as Delaware, but would have moved to Florida and registered if they had known how exciting this election was going to be.

Why should these people be disenfranchised? We can discern their intentions, with the help of out-of-state lawyers!

So I believe that recounts, in principle, are a swell idea. At least I did when they involved only Palm Beach and Broward counties. But I became VERY nervous when Miami-Dade County decided to recount its ballots. Because it appeared likely that the Miami-Dade recount would have been the deciding factor in the election. In other words—and if the following statement does not send a chill down your spine, then you do not have a spine—Miami-Dade would have chosen the next president.

This would not be good for America. Because if there's one thing that Miami-Dade has proven, time and again, it is this: WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO COUNT. We're the county that cheerfully paid a contractor $400,000 too much for "royal" palm trees that were more like palm shrubs. (Although I still believe these trees should be allowed to vote.) We're also the county that paid more than $1 million for road-striping work that was not, if you want to get technical about it, done, in the sense of stripes physically appearing on a road.

And Miami is of course the city that elected a mayor (at least temporarily) with the help of votes cast by, among others, Manuel Yip, who, at the time of the election, turned out to have been deceased for four years.

My point is that, when it comes to keeping an accurate count of things—dollars, trees, live voters vs. dead voters, whatever—Miami-Dade has a poor track record. Not to mention the fact that our voters have probably done some REALLY weird things with their ballots ("Hey, this one has some kind of white powder on it!" "Yeah? Well THIS one has a bullet hole.")

So letting Miami-Dade recount its votes, and thus pick the next president, would have been not unlike turning the controls of a 747 over to a chimpanzee. There is no telling WHERE we'd wind up. There could be a BIG vote surge for Elián.

That's why, today, I am thankful. I'm thankful that Miami-Dade ha—incredibly—done the sane thing, and decided to stay out of this mess.

The rest of the United States (which already wishes that Florida still belonged to Spain) can blame Palm Beach and Broward for whatever happens. For once, Miami-Dade won't be the Lunatic County. We should all be thankful for that, and today, when we prepare to carve our Thanksgiving turkey, we should pause to reflect on our good fortune, and to imagine—in the true spirit of Thanksgiving—that our turkey is an out-of-state lawyer.


Party Time, Texas-Style: Even the Cows Had a Ball

WASHINGTON

Every four years, this stodgy city kicks off its wingtip shoes. Then it puts on shoes that are even less comfortable, and celebrates the inauguration of a president.

And so the federal government—as only the federal government knows how—has gone into Festivity Implementation and Facilitation Mode. Unfortunately, the weather was awful. But the rain, freezing temperatures and occasional death from exposure have not put a damper on the inauguration and its upbeat theme: "We're Cold, And We're Wet."

Copyright© 2003 by Dave Barry
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It was okay...

    I am a HUGE fan of Dave Barry, but this wasn't one of my favorites. I'm thinking it was just because of the subject matter. There were a few snippets that gave me a giggle. I did appreciate the 9/11 essays at the end.

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  • Posted June 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome Fun Read!

    This was a really great book to read, a lot of fun. I was surprised by the ending, but I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2006

    Audiofile says it all

    If you want to get this book on CD or cassette, heed the audiofile review. I picked this up on CD and expected it to be gut busting funny, like Barry's book Big Trouble, but it was only moderately funny and Dick Hill doesn't know when to let some of the punch lines remain understated or yell them for maximum effect. More often then not however, he whispers the punch lines, so you really have to listen hard, which is annoying. It's all just hit and miss, and most of the time Hill misses. To make matters worse, he narrates practically every Barry audio book. You're better off just skipping the audio version and getting the book itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2004

    his worst book ever

    what went wrong!?!?!? This was his worst book ever, I didn't even get a chuckle out of it. As a fan, I'm disheartened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2003

    Nothing Beats These 'Boogers'

    I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. This book is hilarious. How could it not be? It was a little embarassing to ask for at the bookstore, but this book was worth using the word 'booger' in front of the store manager.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2003

    Amusing at times

    This is not Dave's best work, but still amusing at times. Perhaps a bit dry for my tastes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2003

    YES! FINALLY

    Finally, the latest Dave Barry book! This one is hilarious. But really, would it be anything else?

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