The Common Good
November-December 1999

An Advent Reflection

by Ed Spivey Jr. | November-December 1999

Funny business

And lo (or, as translated in the Living Bible, "yo!"), an angel of the Lord appeared before the shepherds tending their flocks by night and, despite enormous temptation, did not say "BOO!" What the angel actually said was, "Behold, unto you a child is born, unto you a son is given." But the shepherds were either sore or afraid, for lo, they realized that this was both good news and bad news. The good news was that God had finally decided to speak to them. The bad news was they didn’t understand a word of it.

FIRST SHEPHERD: Do you know what that angel just said?

SECOND SHEPHERD: No. But it sounded like 17th-century English.

FIRST SHEPHERD: But that can’t be, since the English are still just a bunch of un-evolved Druids who pray to anything they can’t eat. Also, they smell bad. Ugh, talk about clearing out a tent.

SECOND SHEPHERD: Hmmm...I wonder if my in-laws are Druids.

FIRST SHEPHERD: He’s still standing over there.

SECOND SHEPHERD: Who?

FIRST SHEPHERD: That angel guy. And he keeps saying "lo."

SECOND SHEPHERD: Let’s ignore him and maybe he’ll go away.

FIRST SHEPHERD: Anyway, as I was saying before the angel showed up, I’m sick of tending our flocks by night. Any idea how to get back on the day shift?

OH WHAT’S the use? I can’t write inspirational Christmas stuff now, even though you depend on me for that sort of thing. But it’s 90 degrees outside and it’s August, just like it always is for the December deadline. We’re in Heat Hell but have to write about the hope of Advent. I don't think so.

And it’s even harder this time since I just got back from our annual drive-till-we-drop vacation to the West (motto: You’re not there yet). And folks out West weren’t talking about Christmas. They were talking about more immediate concerns, such as how to spell "Albuquerque" and wondering what George W. Bush hasn’t done in the last 23 years.

The Iowa straw polls took place while I was in the area (actually I was a thousand miles away, but out West that’s considered close), and I was able to observe history in the making. Okay, the purchase of history in the making.

You probably heard that George W. did well in the polls. The question that hasn’t been answered, however, is "Fine. But who is this guy?" He could be the next president of the United States and the only thing I know about George W. Bush is what he didn’t do and won’t deny. (That’s what I like about Bill Clinton: You know exactly what he did because he denies he ever did it. Which means of course he did it.)

Bush looked like a shoe-in for being voted highest bidder for the presidency, but then something bad happened. Or, to quote Steve Forbes, "Oh GOODY!"

Things turned sour for Bush when journalists who used drugs in college demanded to know if he did too. The second question they asked was if he could spare some, but that didn’t make it to broadcast.

The other Republican hopefuls saw a talking point and quickly assured the American people that they had never used drugs, mainly because they never lived in my dorm. Dan Quayle pointed out that he had never used drugs or a dictionary in his entire life, but then got distracted by "some weird guy staring at me with a wild look in his eyes." When told that person was Steve Forbes and that’s how he looks at everybody, Dan Quayle said, presidentially, "Oh."

The results of the Iowa straw poll were, in order of most money...I mean most votes:

1. George W. Bush
2. Steve Forbes
3. Elizabeth Dole
4. A bunch of other people.
5. Somebody else.
8. Dan Quayle

As you can see, Dan Quayle fared the worst in the straw poll. In fact, 90 percent of straw polled admitted that, even if they were registered, they would not vote for him. Quayle is currently having his official portrait taken for use on the sides of milk cartons.

And speaking of Lamar Alexander, after his own poor showing he was awarded the coveted prize of first Iowa Carcass of the political season. He’s dropping out of politics altogether and returning to the lonely and pitiable life of a retired multimillionaire.

Elizabeth Dole, who has yet to deny that her husband used Viagra when he was in college, credited her unexpectedly strong third place showing to an "invisible army" of voters. However, she failed to explain why, if she had an invisible army, she didn’t place first or, for that matter, just take over the whole process. When you have an invisible army you can pretty much do what you want.

Heck, if I had an invisible army I’d do something way more cool than run for president. I’d go over to the potato chip factory and throw my weight around: "ATTENTION IN THERE: YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY AN INVISIBLE ARMY! WE DEMAND YOU MAKE ONLY SALT ‘N’ VINEGAR CHIPS! AND DO IT NOW, OR ELSE!"

"What? Well of course you can’t see them. THEY’RE INVISIBLE!"

Al Gore wishes he had an invisible army (although I’ve heard he has an imaginary friend), instead of a team of high-priced advisers who, in a brilliant stroke of high-priced political savvy, urged the vice president to move his entire campaign headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee. Experts agree this strategic move will enable the candidate to get closer to the all important...uhmm...country music vote.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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