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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 2, 2000

For just a minute there I thought Al Gore was having a flashback to the '60s, a time during which he admits that marijuana played a part in his life and that he inhaled.

Someone showed me a wire story beginning with the following Gore quote.

"Wub woo bub bub wub, wub," the story quoted Gore as saying, in what was obviously one of his more prescient (and less easily disproved) statements.

"Hey," I said, drawing the usual stares from my co-workers, who were themselves letting the word "flashback" go through their minds, "I know that lyric. It's from a Crosby Stills & Nash song."

"No," I said, as they began to edge, as usual, toward the door, "really, it's Marakesh Express."

Okay, I was wrong, but it was an easy mistake. The first words to Marakesh Express are Whoopa, hey mesa. Hooba huffa, hey meshy goosh goosh. (I'm not kidding, those are the lyrics, which probably explains, in part, why Crosby later needed a liver transplant.)

But the quote from Gore intrigued me, even after I learned that it was part of an improvisational exercise in a sixth-grade drama class, where he at least had the good sense not to claim that he invented the sixth grade.

He could talk like that and be right at home on the North Suncoast, where we have the usual assortment of loons running for office. Some of them wander around babbling incoherently to themselves; some get into violent confrontations at political events. One may be unqualified to vote but wants to hold office, and one has a long history of extremely strange public utterances and poison-pen letters.

We usually have a candidate or two who drinks like a fish, one or two who suspect deep conspiracies being perpetrated by Masons, the CIA or everything male, including the stamens in the plastic Delta Dawn flowers stuck in their straw hats.

This year, as a protest against the now-traditional non-choice in the presidential races, I am recommending that all of us find the loons running in our local elections (trust me, you have at least one and, if he or she hasn't become obvious yet, you just aren't looking hard enough) and VOTE FOR THEM!

A cynical editor of mine (and, no, that isn't necessarily redundant) frequently asked, "What do you want, good government or good news?"

His point was that if we let more of the loonies into office, it would be more fun to write about them, and the few times it happened, he was right.

I have no pangs of conscience about suggesting that we put the most incompetent and unprepared candidates into office. We pretty much do that anyway, if they are smart enough to shut up and not reveal themselves.

If government is going to continue to be inefficient, unresponsive and expensive, the least it can do is be entertaining.

For years at public speaking appearances, I have been braced by people complaining about this and other newspapers recommending candidates for office.

In the first place, the recommendations aren't really that effective. If they were, George McGovern would have been president in 1972, and a man later charged with child molestation and, last time I heard, still a fugitive would have become a Pasco County commissioner in the early 1970s.

I always respond by asking the questioner to identify for me the Pasco County Commission candidate who once put out a news release including the color of his pubic hair, and the congressional candidate who got in trouble for trying, illegally, to dig up his dead mother after having twice done so legally, once to put panties on her corpse.

They never can.

I can't recommend those two. One is now dead and one moved away, and, as loonies go, they were the cream of the crop. But take a close look. There are pretenders to their thrones.

We tell you as much as we can, within the boundaries of taste and the law, about them and the reasons that most people wouldn't want them in office.

But make your own choice.

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