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Training to be president is no easy job

It is foresight that is 2020 for Brian Anderson.

That's the year the 27-year-old Muskegon, Mich., man envisions running for president.It may seem a long way off. It may not come soon enough for some.

What we have now is the matter of whether Flub-a-Dubya can leap SuperTuesday in a single bound, without someone tripping him up on a trick question -- like the capital of a state he's running in.

Whether Citizen McCain succumbs to hoof-in-mouth disease. Al Bore and The Incredible Shrinking Candidate in the other race. Another helping of Nodoz, please, waitress, at the 2000 Voters Diner.

I don't know what shape these guys will leave the country in 20 years from now, but I do know the most interesting guy who's announced for president, anytime, anyplace, is Anderson.

A Michigan State accounting graduate, Anderson is on Day 253 of a 1,000-day trek across America because he has the bizarre notion it's good to learn, up close and personal, about the country he'd like to lead.

"I think maybe more than anything people want to be understood. I see this as an attempt to acquire some understanding," Anderson says.

He took off with a hundred bucks in his pocket and a dented 1990 Datsun with almost 200,000 miles on it. Goal: visit 1,030 communities.

He's sustained himself by visiting Taco Bell more than the Chihuahua: "Sixty-nine-cent bean burrito. Water. Gotta watch costs, you know."

He's slept in rest stops. Taken odd jobs.

He was a potato sorter in Blackfoot, Idaho.

"You have to be able to tell a rock from a potato," he said.

If he can spell either, he'd be ahead of some candidates, wouldn't he?

There was the ditch-digging job in Elk Grove, Calif. Water-bottling assembly line in Seattle. Loading freighters in Ft. Lauderdale. Bakery in Linwood, Wash.

He hopes these jobs help attune him to a cross-section of Americans.

"I'm not saying a few days on an assembly line makes me a factory worker, but these people are the nuts and bolts of America. I'd like at least some sense of their daily lives," Anderson said.

"If I've seen where you live, I might be a little more sensitive to your issues," he added.

For now, he calls himself neither Democrat or Republican.

"I want to keep it open," he said.

Laughing, he said he could hear pundits 20 years from now: "Sure, Anderson's been clear on the issues the last 18 years, but where'd he stand before that?"

He passed through Utah, hiking up Mount Timpanogos on Oct. 2, his 27th birthday. He worked construction in Magna, south of Ogden and in Heber Valley. He spent several days at BYU.

"I'm not saying I know the culture," said Anderson. "I do know it's the first time I saw 22-year-old men focused on something besides drinking and carousing after women. Be interesting to learn more about why."

When his travels end in 2002, he's planning on earning a master's in public policy or a law degree, writing a book and entering the Air Force Reserves.

For now, the most burning question is whether he looks more like Ernie, the kid with the glasses on "My Three Sons," or Matthew Broderick in "The Freshman."

You can click on his web site: www.prez2020.com and decide.

He looks like the future star of "The Best Man" to me.