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Popular Vote
BUSH 48,999,459
GORE 49,222,339
Popular %
BUSH 48%
GORE 48%
Electoral College Votes
BUSH 271*
*25 subject to court challenge
GORE 262
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OPINION: The Never-Ending Election

But How Did We Expect America To Make A Choice?

Dan Bernard, Staff Writer, Channel 3000
November 11, 2000, 3:52 p.m. EST

The views expressed are not necessarily those of Channel 3000. Click to e-mailIt was as if a simple arithmetic problem -- "Who gets more, Bush or Gore?" -- turned into particle physics, and instead of adding one plus one, we were suddenly spitting a molecule, then cutting it in two again, and again, and again

On election morning, we were so ready to set aside, finally, this tedious question, the one they had prepared us to solve for more than a year: "Will it be Bush or Gore?" We knew that was the assignment, despite fleeting suggestions that it might be someone other than Bush or Gore.

On election night, as the networks' on-air talent began to sense that the answer was waiting in the country's southeastern extremity, we were eager to fill in the blank. It was revealed:

"Gore ... or Bush."

That can't be right, we thought. We stayed up late and tried again, until the answer was:

"Bush or Gore."

In the morning, we wondered if our eyes were deceiving us when we saw the answer:

"Bush OR Gore."

"This thing is broken," we muttered, shaking the TV to hear if loose parts were rolling around inside. "I asked for the answer and it gave me back the question."

And So On

Two days later: The same non-answer. When I was a child, I used to go into my grandparents' bathroom and angle the mirrored doors of the medicine cabinet on either side of my head so I could see my reflection in infinity. This is how I feel this week.

But we ought to have seen this coming.

How did we expect the American people to choose between two candidates who already had merged with each other?

Let us review how the components of this bizarre equation fell into place:

A Few Years Ago

  • The year: 1992. The Democratic Party presents its presidential candidate -- a guy who sounds kind of Republican. Sounds good, say the American people, and bounce the old guy. Democrats move to the middle.

  • The year: 2000. The Republican Party presents its candidate. He sounds like that Democrat who sounded like a Republican. He likes minorities like Democrats do. He acts like the new guy in town. Yet he looks naggingly familiar. Doesn't he have the same face as that old guy, and some of the same Cabinet members? But wait -- this one has a middle initial. Got it. Not the same Bush. George W. Bush (campaign photo)

    This new Bush explains that he's here to get rid of the more recent old guard and move forward with a return to old-fashioned decency. He is Not Clinton.

    His opponent is the guy who stood next to the Democrat who sounded like a Republican and who acts like a Republican himself, mostly. Supporting this Democrat is a vote for continuity: He helped out the previous guy, and he's just as good as that guy, although, please, not equal to -- in fact, please don't mention that other guy. He is Not Clinton.

    But it's time to make a choice, America! Why? It's not the economy, stupid. The economy is fine. Both candidates campaigned in the future economy -- more prosperity, with a purpose and for America's families.

    The Not-Clinton -- the Democrat -- might have taken credit for the current prosperity, but didn't really. This Gore seemed to divert our attention from the current economy with his slogan "You ain't seen nothin' yet." I know he meant, "The best is yet to come." But how could he have overlooked that the statement could be read as, "To date, you have not witnessed anything." Or maybe that was the point: "You did not see anything. You did not see that Buddhist temple. You did not see my partner have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. You are getting ve-ry sleepy ..."

    I guess, Al, that in the end, we didn't see anything much at all. Or we saw something fuzzy and indistinct that didn't register. Which one of them said, "They have not led; we will"? Which one said, "I will fight for you"?

    Are you sure?

    Election Day

    Al Gore casts his vote in Elmwood, Tenn., voting booth (actual campaign photo)

    Wake up, it's Nov. 7. Time to make the choice!

    Nothing happened!

    Why have American politics been cast into this limbo, the ultimate gridlock?

    Could it be that the two major parties, after just a few years of circling each other, each co-opting the other's centrist appeals, have each attained the state of the art in producing the perfect generic political candidate? Like the Soviet Union and the U.S. both landing on the moon at the same time?

    They gave the people two and asked America to take away one.

    Looks like we came up with zero.

    Dan is heading down to the heart of the constitutional crisis in Palm Beach! E-mail your questions about the non-election to him at dan@channel3000.com, along with your full name, city and state, and he'll reply to some of them in this column. If you just can't wait to vent, submit a posting to our online forums on Indecision 2000 in the Hot-Button Issues room: Click here.

    For more campaign coverage from Channel 3000, click here

    Copyright 2001 by Channel 3000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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