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Vermin Supreme

By Simon Steinhardt

Photos by Adam Amengual
Graphics by Rad Mountain

On the campaign trail, Vermin Supreme likes to start his sentences with “I am the only candidate who supports…” And it’s true: he is the only candidate who supports fully funding time-travel research in order to go back and kill Hitler before he was born. He’s also the only candidate who makes mandatory toothbrushing his signature issue. After all, as he says in his dental manifesto, “Proper dental hygiene is essential to proper social order.” If you’re worried about flying monkey tooth fairies enforcing the mandatory toothbrushing laws, fear not, since Vermin Supreme is also the only candidate who promises that such creatures will not be used to that end.

Plenty of people make a career out of making a mockery of politics—it’s not hard to ridicule something that, more often than not, borders on farce. But few of them go so far as to legally change their name and party affiliation and pony up the cash it takes to get on the presidential primary election ballot, as Vermin did in Washington, D.C., in 2004 (as a Democrat) and in New Hampshire this year (as a Republican).

Vermin runs for president of the United States because it’s the highest office on the ballot, but his real campaign (or “cam-pain,” as he spells it) is for Emperor of the New Millennium. It’s an important job, considering he won’t be up for re-election until the year 2999 if he wins. And if he does, we’ll gladly yield to his mighty authoritarian leadership, as long as it’s as much fun as he promises.

Tell us about your campaign operation.
Baby, I am nationwide. I am fucking nationwide. That’s all I can say. I have constituents across this great nation of ours. Their level of support is indeed varying and wavering, but I’ve never blamed any of my supporters—and I use the term loosely—who will not actually contribute to my campaign, either with time or financial contributions. I understand that they may have to operate in a whole other dimension of reality.

You seem very focused on domestic policy—toothbrushing laws, legalizing human meat and so forth.
Yes, and free ponies for all Americans.

But where do you stand on foreign policy issues?
Well, I do believe that we should give the Iraqi people the opportunity to become a part of this great nation of ours. I firmly believe that Iraq would truly make a wonderful 51st state. It’s been quite some time since we’ve actually added a state to the union, and I believe the flag-makers of America could certainly use a shot in the arm in that direction, not that it’s strictly pork for them of course.

Are there any other prospects for statehood in your plan?
It looks like Iran is fixing to want to become a state. I’ve been watching the news, and it looks like they just might want to be our 52nd state, after Iraq. Once they’re all paying taxes to Uncle Sam and they’ve got the American flag flying over there, they’ll be instilled with pride for our nation. It will be such a beautiful, peaceful thing. Then, and finally then, they will be greeting us with flowers and roses and roadside flower stands and things like that.

Well it sounds like a mission accomplished to me.
Yes sir.

Now as far as I know, you’re the only candidate, at least in the Republican Party, who wears a clown nose. Why do you think John McCain doesn’t want to wear a clown nose?
Sir, I’d like to address that issue of the clown nose. That is a dirty trick, sir. That is a smear that my opponents have apparently tarred me with for some reason. If you look carefully, you will notice that I’m not wearing a clown nose, nobody has seen me wearing a clown nose, and it seems that it is being added after photos are taken and distributed to the media.

So what is your real nose apparel?
Occasionally sun block when it’s really hot out, man. I have a very fine nose, I’m not ashamed of my nose, and I’m not sure why all this censorship of my nose occurs in the media. It’s very strange. I think you’ll notice that sometimes it’s actually a blue dot that I think was on TV for a while. I think it originally came from the National Enquirer. I think they put it on the face of that rape victim of one of those Kennedy kids, and then they started using it on my nose. A lot.

So are you saying you refuse to wear a clown nose?
Once again, if that’s what the people want, if the focus groups indicate that I would gain a certain segment of the clown-loving audience, then I’m all for it. My own personal research has shown that more people tend to be afraid of clowns, and would not be likely to vote for an actual clown for the presidency of the United States of America, let alone any other office.

What sort of controversial figures are floating around your campaign that you’re trying to minimize contact with?
I believe for the sake of my campaign and trying to avoid scandals that may have occurred in my past, I’m going to say that I’ve never heard of the Church of Euthanasia. And let me also say further that I never appeared on The Jerry Springer Show with them. I hope I’m clear on that. If I’m seriously trying to avoid the biggest scandal from my past, once again, I deny it would be any affiliation with any suicide-abortion-promoting cannibal cult. Not me.

Now I’m going to give you a little fill-in-the-blank analogy here. Barack Obama is to hope as Vermin Supreme is to…
A big block of Velveeta-style cheese.

So would you say you’re running on a cheese-based campaign platform?
As they say, all hail the power of cheese, but only in a metaphorical sense I suppose.

Melted, in a block or powder?
Oh, it would certainly be a big block, a strong foundation for this country.

Do you have any pop artists working on Vermin-cheese posters or anything like that?
Well the contest is open. Did I mention the Vermin Supreme Presidential Library?

No—tell me about that.
What I have done, I have hijacked a portion of the New Hampshire Political Library, which is a part of the New Hampshire State Library. The New Hampshire Political Library exists to collect memorabilia from the New Hampshire primary, and what I have done is I have taken over a section of it, liberating a corner of it, and declaring it the Vermin Supreme Presidential Library.
That seems a little presumptuous, don’t you think? Declaring yourself “presidential” at this point?
Presidential is a word that, if you look it up in the dictionary, would be described as something that pertains to the presidency, and so in that definition of the term I believe I am perfectly justified in claiming that it’s a presidential library, since it does pertain to the presidency and my quest for it.

From your market research, what do you see as some hot-button issues this year that aren’t being addressed by the mainstream candidates?
Once again, my quadrennial issue of mandatory toothbrushing, the funding of time travel, the zombie preparedness issue—those are my three hot-button topics, and of course free ponies, which is just a fucking promise to get votes, quite frankly. I also want to lower the voting age to 6 and make Hannah Montana my running mate.

Now what do you see as the flaws in Barack Obama’s stance on the toothbrushing laws?
Soft on plaque.

What about McCain?
If you dig deep, it’s not explicitly labeled, but I have exclusive video documentation of Senator John McCain giving support to the mandatory toothbrushing law. The approximate quote goes something like this. I asked him, “Senator McCain, do you support mandatory toothbrushing?” And he responded as follows: “Why yes, as a matter of fact, my campaign staff has a lot of practice hiding in people’s bathrooms late at night in order to make sure they have brushed.” So I’d have to say that he did in fact give full-on support for it.

There have been rumors that John McCain has been trying to get you to drop out of the race and endorse him. What do you say to that?
Once again, they haven’t made me a serious offer yet for my consideration to do that.

So what would you consider a serious offer that you’d be willing to accept in return for your endorsement of Senator McCain?
I’d settle for a cabinet-level position or a large cash payoff to help retire my campaign debt.

What particular campaign post would you be looking for?
I’d have to go for agriculture.

John McCain seems to have moved towards the center on—
Well he did start to suck the fucking fundamentalists’ dicks for a little while there…

I was going to say he had shifted specifically on environmental policy, or has at least tried to market himself as “green.” Would you say you’re more connected to the party’s base on environmental issues?
Well you know I’ve always been a long-term advocate of weather dome technology. As the climate undergoes certain alterations—and it hasn’t been proven that it’s caused by humans, by any means—the technology of weather domes, ala Bucky Fuller, is a very important part of my thing. Or we could simply kick anyone who complains about the weather out of the country. Environmentally, yeah I would be the extreme—extreme—environmental president. You see what I’m saying? Because I know the kids like to use that word, “extreme,” so I’m trying to use that buzzword in my campaign as much as possible. If you could just insert “extreme” in between every other word in the interview, that would be very cool.

So I’m sort of the extreme environmental candidate, and I believe that we can solve the excess carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere if we carbonate every beverage drunk by every American. I think the carbonated soft drink industry is on the right track, but as president I would certainly increase the amount of carbonation in all beverages, and carbonate every beverage that is not carbonated yet. And that way, we can all share in the burden of consuming and dissipating these harmful CO2 gases that might do something at some point.

So you’re saying you would take the CO2 gases out of the air and put them into our water pipes?
And our milk, and our orange juice and all other juices, and we’d pump up the carbon dioxide content in beers and sodas and all that good stuff. It would be extra, like extreme I guess. That’s just my solution, although I haven’t run it by any scientists yet.

How do you feel about being labeled as a “fringe” candidate?
It’s a term I can live with. I accept it. I’d prefer “lesser-known,” but I’ve certainly been called worse than “fringe.”

Like what?
Well I’d rather not get into it. You might use these words against me.

Well they’re just coming out of your mouth, so they’ll be printed as such.
Yeah, well, I’m not falling into that trick. I’m smarter than that. I’ve been doing this for quite some time, sonny.