It's almost time for the political conventions, which means that millions of concerned American voters will be glued to their TV sets, watching the last few episodes of "Survivor."
Some TV viewers will also watch the conventions, but the majority of these will be Labrador retrievers who turned on the TV by biting the remote control and cannot figure out how to change the channel. Very few actual people watch the political conventions anymore. Al Gore could accept the Democratic nomination buck naked, and nobody would notice except maybe Tipper.
And don't be surprised if Al DOES accept the nomination naked. He's been trying a lot of different "looks" in a desperate effort to change the voters' perception of him as having essentially the same amount of human DNA as a Pez dispenser. One day he's wearing a suit; the next day it's cowboy boots and earth tones; the next day it's a tutu and nipple rings — you never know, with Al! Also he keeps changing his campaign manager (currently, the late Adlai Stevenson) and his campaign headquarters (currently, the frozen-bait section of a North Dakota Wal-Mart). Strategywise, the main thrust of Al's campaign in recent weeks has been to assert, for legal reasons, that he spent the entire 1996 campaign in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, the campaign of Al's Republican opponent, George "W" Bush III Jr., has been going smoothly, because the candidate shrewdly never says anything that was not written down on a piece of paper for him by his political advisers, a team of really smart guys who know a lot of stuff such as the correct names of foreign countries. They handle the thinking, which leaves George free to take charge of other aspects of his campaign, such as dressing himself. Also George has been demonstrating that he is Tough on Crime by periodically allowing the state of Texas to execute somebody, most recently a Houston man suspected of loitering with intent to jaywalk.
In terms of policies, both Al and George want to save Social Security and reduce taxes; to accomplish this, both men have proposed solid, workable, detailed programs that will never actually be passed by Congress. Both George and Al have also been conducting nationwide searches for vice-presidential candidates; after carefully considering all options, each man will balance the ticket by selecting, as his running mate, a white male career politician with good teeth.
These two major tickets will be officially nominated at national conventions featuring 17,500 hours of speeches by every living U.S. citizen who has ever held the rank of registered voter. The TV networks will broadcast eight minutes of this live; the rest of the coverage will consist of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan "Moonbeam" Rather asking expert analysts how come the public doesn't care more about politics.
I should point out that your presidential choices will not be limited to George and Al. You also have the option of voting for Pat Buchanan, who has garnered the coveted nomination of the Wing Nut Party, which was founded by Ross Perot before he returned to his alternate universe. Or you can vote for Ralph Nader, who went to court and successfully challenged, as unconstitutional, the part of the U.S. Constitution that says the president cannot be named "Ralph." Ralph is running on a platform of being opposed to Big Business; he would protect consumers by imposing a strict federal ban on dangerous products such as cars, telephones, electricity, meat and nitrogen.
Of course you have another choice for president: Me. Although the so-called "news media" have ignored my campaign, it has definitely been gaining momentum: I started out, a year ago, with 80,000 bumper stickers, and I have only about 79,850 left. Clearly the voters are responding to my deeply held views, which as of 6:30 this morning are as follows:
NUCLEAR SECURITY: Obviously, this is too big a job for the Department of Energy (Motto: "Somebody Has Stolen Our Motto"). I think we should have the Internal Revenue Service rewrite our nuclear secrets in the style of the federal tax code, so that any enemy who tried to read them would be driven insane.
GASOLINE PRICES: I think gasoline should cost 49 cents a gallon. No, darn it, make that 29 cents a gallon! Also the gas-station attendants should pump it for you. And when you get home, you should be able to watch Milton Berle on your Philco TV.
BRITNEY SPEARS: I think that, as a nation, we deserve some kind of explanation.
If you share these views, or any others, I urge you to send me as much cash as you can fit into a shoebox. But whatever your views, I ask you to join with me, as fellow Americans, in praying that in the final episode of "Survivor," the last contestant eats the host.
Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Write to him c/o The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami FL 33132.