Along the Tracks

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Road trip with the Dems

My column from the Saturday, Nov. 1 Bryan Times (subscribe to the Times!):

On the road in Iowa with the Democrats Nine

By PAUL A. MILLER - Leader Enterprise

It was an unusually warm morning for Iowa in early November. Tempers rose with the temperature as the nine travelers tumbled from their ‘68 Volkswagen van. Smoke poured from the rear engine hatch.

“This heap o’ junk is finished, ya’ll,” said the striking young trial lawyer, John Edwards. “Why, it’s older than I am. Let’s shove it off’ns the road and hitch rides with the oppressed common people.”

“Don’t dis the Magic Bus!” cried Dennis Kucinich. “When I was mayor, I had Cleveland city workers paint those peace symbols on the side, just before we went bankrupt.”

“My diagnosis: It needs oil,” growled the good doctor, Howard Dean.

“Oil? Oil! What do you mean, oil! That’s stuff’s poison - do you know how many caribou die for every quart?!” cried Dennis.

“Shut up you flake, we need it,” growled Dr. Dean.

“What we need is a unionized shop, prevailing wages and health benefits for all involved, from tow truck operator to Mr. Goodwrench,” offered Dick Gephardt, non-chalantly brushing his platinum eyebrows as he gazed into the flip mirror.

“Mr. Goodwrench? It’s a VW from Germany, you idiot,” growled the doctor.

“I served in Vietnam,” a haughty voice interjected. It was the very presidential-looking John Kerry.

“Back then, many people drove Volkswagens, which are indeed from Germany,” he explained, to the bewilderment of all. “And Germany is right - the Iraq War was all about oil. So let’s just add some oil and get rolling.”

General Wesley Clark stepped forward, saluted, and then pulled a quart from his briefcase.

“I have taken control in tough situations like this many times before to stand for what is right,” he announced, twisting off the cap. Suddenly, the entire party gasped - the quart’s label clearly read “Big Oil.”

The general peeled it off.

“That label only appeared to be related to the Texas Republican Conspiracy,” the general hedged. “It was actually much more nuanced than that. There are no simple answers - or labels. I proudly stand against the corruption of Texas Republicans and will do all I can -”

“Just give me the !#@%! oil, Wesley,” glared Dr. Dean.

The doctor poured in the oil. Dennis whimpered with each glug.

Soon the merry band was off and running again. Before long, they reached another impasse - a split in the road. They could either go left or right.

“I served in Vietnam,” a haughty voice registered from the back seat. “And just before my heroic service in that terrible war, there was a Yankee catcher who was noted for his humorous quotes. He said something then which rings true today: ‘When you reach a fork in the road, take it.’”

“I am the only one here who can credibly say Senator Kerry is right,” said Gen. Clark. Everyone ignored him.

“The left road looks easier - maybe it leads to a cushy ambassadorship,” Carol Moseley Braun chimed in. Everyone ignored her.

Dick Gephardt noticed a sign.

“Look,” he said in his homey Missouri style, “the right arrow says ‘Victoryville,’ which is where we want to go - eventually. But that road does look tough. I think we should stay on the divided highway on the left, to ‘Declinersburg,’ and hope to find an alternate route from there.”

“Hey, there’s a gas station,” Dr. Dean growled. “Why don’t we stop and ask directions?”

“You sound like my wife,” John Edwards giggled.

“Look, I’m a ‘metrosexual,’” huffed Dr. Dean. “I’m getting in touch with my feminine side.”

“Don’t claim the high ground without a deed,” waxed Rev. Al Sharpton. “Step aside for those who’ll lead!”

“Amen, brother!” Joe Lieberman finally spoke up.

Looking annoyed, Dr. Dean stepped on the gas and headed down the beautifully-paved freeway to the left. Joltin’ Joe, in the passenger’s seat, kept grabbing the wheel and pulling it to the right. The angry doctor glared at him.

The reverend looked out his window, and chuckled.

“You know,” he stated the obvious, “this looks a lot like the Good Book’s description of a smooth, wide path: the Road to Perdition.”

“Amen, brother!” a frowning Joe agreed as he tugged the wheel one more time.

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