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Thursday, June 30, 2005 11:12 pm

capital voices 6-30-05

Yanks Avatar is caught between liberal and conservative, and he’s making mistakes. He is, I suspect, not much different from other folks who can reach out and touch their midsixties. Once he was liberal; he’s now leaning conservative. However, in Yanks’ case, his “leaning conservative” brings him only to the middle, for he was, in his youth, a “flaming” liberal — so flaming as to get conked in the head by Chicago policemen at the ’68 Democratic National Convention. The resulting small scar on his forehead was a badge of honor for years — now he cares not to talk about it.

As eventually happens, even to people of charity, Yanks is starting to vote his pocketbook, and he’s feeling a bit guilty. His history of studying issues and attempting to measure a candidate’s integrity no longer serves him well.

He cast his ballot for and lot with Bush and Blagojevich last time. Not good. Especially not good for Yanks-in-the-Middle, for Yanks is a retired university professor and Rod is diluting Yanks’ pension money. And because Yanks is in the exact statistical middle of the middle class, George has instructed the IRS to use Yanks as a taxing template and to extract as much tax as is humanly possible from the template.

“After careful consideration,” Yanks announces to anyone willing to listen, “I’ve decided to abandon left-wing, right-wing, and middle-wing — and vote the comic-wing. Simple enough: Just visualize the candidate reading the comic strips and cast your vote accordingly. In these most confusing times, knowing what makes a person laugh is as valid a measure of a person’s worth as any measure.”

Maybe? For example, it is well known that President George W. Bush reads only Mary Worth and Family Circus. The good president often laughs aloud at Mary’s crazy antics and even has a Mary Worth telephone on his nightstand. On the other side of the page, he especially likes the much-repeated Family Circus cartoon in which Billy takes a circuitous path from point A to point B and we follow along by way of those gut-busting dashes. “A perfect day for me,” the president often says, “would have Billy traveling his hilarious roundabout way to Mary Worth’s house, where Mary would advise him to stay in school, drill for oil, and stay away from drugs.”

• Gov. Blagojevich does not read the comic strips. Each day he has his pollsters tell him which comic strip was considered the day’s funniest, and, if anyone asks, he’ll reference the day’s winner. “You can say that again, potential voter — nothing funnier than

Hi and . . . Lukas.

“No doubt about it, friend, that Garfunkel is one wacky yellow cat — and Simon is no slouch, either. In fact, I was humming ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ just this morning while bringing ethics to state government.”

• Ex-Gov. George Ryan contracted with a close comic friend to select a cartoon of the month, make copies on state photocopiers, and sell the copies to state employees at $100 a pop. When asked by the local muckraking media to explain his actions, Ex-George answered, “A happy worker is a productive worker, and how about the moratorium on executions?”

His answer seemed to satisfy the reporters, and everyone enjoyed a nice brunch.

• Bill Clinton was and is an avid reader of the Blondie character of Dagwood and Blondie fame, although he is to this day unaware that there is a Dagwood.

• While he was president, Ronald Reagan read the day’s Peanuts strip 6-11 a.m., rested, and then read the day’s Beetle Bailey 1-5 p.m. He also set aside three hours each evening to digest a randomly selected one-panel cartoon.

• Jimmy Carter does not read the comics; he’s too busy helping Habitat for Humanity build houses for deserving folks. Good thing we didn’t give him a second term — for can we really trust a man who goes through a day without taking time to laugh?

• Richard Nixon had the White House chef deep-fry the entire left side of the comic-strip page, after which the president ate it for breakfast, a tradition still enjoyed by Dick Cheney.

• Lincoln would have read Doonesbury, Non Sequitur, Natural Selection, In the Bleachers, Peanuts, Zits, Mallard Fillmore, Dilbert, and maybe Pickles. Mr. Lincoln would have found a smile or two at both ends of the comic limits — Doonesbury and Mallard Fillmore.

Next election, if Abe isn’t on the ballot, Yanks Avatar will vote — The Born Loser.

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