Election 2004: Test Your Knowledge

By Paula Whyman

    The current Republican presidential campaign strategy already bears a resemblance to Saturday morning cartoons: an insidious combination of violence and pablum. Take a look at the first round of Bush campaign ads for a glimpse of this potent formula. (One ad included footage of a victim’s remains being removed from the Trade Center rubble.) In spite of the many ways in which President Bush has failed us—a recent achievement being a 20-year record high for the average length of unemployment—if he can pull a rabbit out of a hat, or a bin Laden out of a cave, before election day, and if at the same time we see heartwarming footage of smiling Iraqis lined up at voting booths from Baghdad to Basra, he may be able to lock up the election. The longer Bush can distract voters from domestic and international concerns, and persuade them instead to focus on his likeability and “values,” the better chance he’s got.

The current Democratic strategy, on the other hand, seems to be, ‘Vote for me, because I’m not him.’ Yes, I went to the same college, and, okay, I did go to elite private schools, but, really, I’m not him. I sound a lot smarter, for one. That’s an advantage…right? (Just ask Al Gore.)

    As of this writing, polls show the country is split once again, about 50-50, Bush vs. Kerry. Before you decide which 50% of the country you’ll vote with, please take this quiz to test your understanding of the important issues in this election.

I. The Issues

When it comes to altruism and interest in the political process, the average American today has the most in common with

    a) Benjamin Franklin
    b) Homer Simpson
    c) P. Diddy

To ensure that all children in this country receive a good public education, most Americans are in favor of

    a) vouchers that shift money from public to private schools
    b) Pepsi vending machines in school hallways
    c) Coca-Cola vending machines in school hallways
    d) teenagers making out in school hallways

To ensure that affordable health care is available to all Americans, most Americans expect discounted health benefits to be offered to the working poor and their children, as long as it doesn't cost the rest of us anything. These health plans would be similar to everyone else's in that

    a) benefits would be determined using an inscrutable         mathematical formula based on Fermat's theorum and would         cover no more than 3% of the actual cost of any medical         service
    b) prescription plans would cover only the drugs that no one         needs and charge a premium for the most commonly         prescribed ones
    c) patients would be allowed to choose a doctor from a         comprehensive list of three physicians, all of whom received         their degrees in Papua New Guinea
    d) the rules would be written by drug companies, so that their         CEOs can buy expensive shower curtains and ice sculptures         shaped like the Statue of Liberty

To reduce air pollution and acid rain, most Americans favor

    a) upgraded pollution controls in power plants
    b) fines for plants that fail to meet standards
    c) President Bush's plan, which doesn't enforce pollution         controls but puts a car in every garage so the car's paint job         won't get ruined by acid rain
    d) relaxation of standards to allow corporations to save money,         so that CEOs can buy expensive shower curtains and ice         sculptures shaped like the Statue of Liberty

On the international front, many Americans think our most important goal should be

    a) capturing Osama bin Laden
    b) getting U.S. troops out of Iraq
    c) blaming Spain for everything (much to the relief of France)
    d) making Canada the next state because, hey, they're nothing         without us anyway

II. The Candidates

Kerry has announced that his VP running mate will be Sen. John Edwards. It is hoped that Edwards' relative youth and charisma will counter Kerry's somewhat dour visage. If Kerry looks a bit world-weary, Edwards looks like

    a) Mike Myers
    b) he’s 25
    c) a match for Hillary in 2012?
    d) all of the above

A Kerry/Edwards ticket could be more appealing to many Americans than Bush/Cheney because

    a) the Democrats have fewer ties to big business and are more         in touch with the common man
    b) maybe they’d invite the common man to come over and hang         out with them at one of their multimillion-dollar homes,         where we could watch NASCAR together and drink beers
    c) Bush has never invited us to Crawford, and when he watches         NASCAR he constantly bugs people to tell him how many outs         there are
    d) Kerry/Edwards might remind voters of the early, heady years         of Clinton/Gore

Edwards is more likable than Cheney because

    a) Edwards looks you in the eye, so it seems like he’s telling the         truth
    b) he has better hair
    c) he smiles a lot
    d) he is not Satan
    e) all of the above

On the other hand, a Kerry/Edwards ticket could be less appealing to many Americans than Bush/Cheney because

    a) when the country is at war, people are less likely to want to         change leaders
    b) Bush and Cheney are willing to make all the tough decisions         for us so we don’t have to, like deciding which children         should be born and who should marry whom
    c) Kerry/Edwards might remind voters of the early, heady years         of Clinton/Gore

Kerry has a fighting chance against Bush because

    a) he's taller
    b) he doesn’t confuse words like “commiserate” and         “commensurate”
    c) he spoke out against an ill-conceived war instead of getting         the country into one
    d) all of the above

On the other hand, Bush might have an edge over Kerry, because

    a) people see Bush as a plain-talking, regular guy
    b) his campaign has more money than Bill Gates
    c) his dental records from the Alabama guard stint prove he has         a good set of choppers
    d) everyone would hate to see Condy go

If Bush lost the election, Rumsfeld and Cheney would

    a) slink away to their underground vault, since exposure to         daylight turns them into a puff of gray smoke
    b) See option ‘a’

As for what a Bush loss would mean for Colin Powell,

    a) Powell would get to say “I told you so”
    b) still, no one would listen to him

Laura Bush may help her husband win because

    a) she’s demure and noncontroversial
    b) there’s a good chance she’s actually an inflatable doll
    c) people figure, if she can put up with him for four more years,         so can we

During the campaign, Bush plans to highlight his accomplishments, including ___________, but he won’t mention _____________.

    a) finding Saddam Hussein / not finding any WMDs
    b) creating a Dept. of Homeland Security / creating a huge         deficit
    c) cutting taxes to stimulate growth / increasing unemployment
    d) upholding his religious values / his daughters’ fake IDs

In a recent meeting with reporters, Kerry showed his interest in literature and the arts by quoting from T.S. Eliot and Rudyard Kipling. Bush, not to be outdone,

    a) can recite the whole alphabet while belching
    b) can quote some of the more esoteric segments of the “Andy         Capp” comic strip
    c) confesses that the final episode of “Bachelor” always makes         him a little teary

Kerry’s biggest weakness is

    a) the whole “liberal from Massachusetts” thing
    b) the whole “outspoken wife” thing
    c) the whole “voted against the Gulf War, voted for the Iraq         war” thing
    d) unlike Bush, his inability to fool voters into thinking he’s a         regular guy

Bush’s biggest weakness is

    a) booze, but he’s over that, right?
    b) cocaine, but he’s over that, right?
    c) the whole “pissing off every other country in the world” thing
    d) his inability to fool voters into thinking he’s not a goofball

And finally…

When all is said and done, and it’s time to go to the voting booth, most Americans are more likely to

    a) go for a Big Mac and fries
    b) make that a large fries
    c) stick with the Atkins diet and just eat bacon
    d) rent the movie instead

Understanding your score:

Give yourself three points for every c) or d) response. If your score adds up to more than thirty, Congratulations! Your superior math skills qualify you to monitor elections in the state of Florida!

Now don’t forget to vote, and you’ll be sure to get what you deserve…


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