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The Election Was a Dead Heat

Two years ago, Arizona voters approved a law to exempt graves and cemeteries from taxation.

It was a political payoff to all the dead voters who had continued to cast ballots long after their expiration dates. One corpse was elected to the Legislature and served two terms before his secret was discovered.

Here we are on the eve of another election,and there’s nothing nearly that interesting on the 2002 ballot.

I’m a wishy-washy member of the party that believes the Lord helps those who help themselves, especially if themselves are rich.

However, I frequently vote for candidates from the party that thinks that if the Lord overlooks you, only the government can save you.

What a choice. In truth, my political party has not yet been invented. I considered organizing The American Liars Party, but that would be redundant, wouldn’t it?

Arizona has had some picturesque politicans, but usually they don’t start distinguishing themselves until AFTER they’re elected.

In many recent elections, I felt that I had to choose between the lesser of two weasels–oops, make that the lesser of two evils.

Forty some years ago, I was a gullible young reporter who believed in everyone. I was often misled, and unless a wise editor saw through the bull dandruff, that misinformation went out to 100,000 readers.

I learned that anyone who wanted space in the newspaper was capable of some really credible falsehoods. I became more jaded than a Chinese pawn shop.

Fortunately, The Wickenburg Institute For Factual Diversity also serves as a treatment center for recovering newspapermen. By lying, I have again come to believe.

Some friendly folks have phoned this year to pitch this candidate or that proposition. When I try to respond courteously, I find that they are recorded voices. Hey, I love attention, any attention.

As I told Queen Elizabeth just the other day, I hate a name dropper. However, I am obliged to tell you that I had a nice call from the president of the United States.

I was so star-struck that I didn’t understand at first. I thought he was inviting me to go fishing in Alaska. No, he said, he wanted me to vote for Matt Salmon for governor of Arizona.

I wanted to ask President Bush about the economy, and about his monomaniacal determination to go to war with Iraq. He would not be interrupted. He continued to talk about the spirit of America, with the fervor of a salesman who is trying to sell you the last green plaid sports coat on the rack.

At the end of the recording, it sounded as though he turned away from the mike and called
to someone, “Where the hell is Wickenburg?”

But enough about George W. and me. I was going to tell you about Norman Shotwad, the dead guy who got elected to the Legislature.

Norman was sheriff of Hualacopai County. They said old Norm was hard on criminals, but soft on crime. The more that folks sinned in his county, the fatter his bank account, and the tighter his hold on power.

He dressed like Gene Autry, and had a pair of polished Texas longhorns on the hood of his
county-owned Lincoln Continental.

Norm spent most evenings in the bar at the Elks Club, and insisted on driving himself home. Since no one dared arrest him for DUI, his deputies and the city cops in the county seat would escort him home.

About 11 o’clock every night, there was a parade of police cars, lights flashing, sirens wailing, clearing the streets for a weaving black Continental that used up all of the street.

Folks would lie in bed and say, “There goes old Norm, going home from the Elks Club.”

With that kind of name recognition, it was not hard for Norman Shotwad to get elected to the Legislature.

Unbeknownst to voters, Shotwad died two weeks before the election. Emily LaTreen, a single woman who often spent evenings with the sheriff in the Elks Club bar, said Shotwad was showing her how fast he could eat an avocado, and he choked on the pit.

Miss LaTreen pointed out to Bert, the bartender, that the sheriff was a little blue. Bert applied the Heimlich maneuver. The avocado pit shot out through the window of the Elks Club and knocked the windshield out of Bert’s new Dodge truck.

But it was too late for old Norm. Someone suggested Bert do CPR and Bert said, “No, he’s dead, I can tell.”

Shotwad’s undersheriff, Emil Nightrate, concealed the fact that Shotwad was dead. Nightrate did not want to see a profitable political machine break up. He told Emily LaTreen that if she didn’t keep quiet, he’d arrest her for selling more than Avon around town.

When someone called and asked to talk to old Norm, Emil would say that Sheriff Shotwad was
on the other line. The sheriff’s office had only one line in those days, but who knew that?

Shotwad was elected handily. He served two terms, and sponsored some tough anti-crime legislation. It was said that sheriffs and county attorneys had a true friend in the Legislature.

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