Editors Note: How often do you get to read quotations from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein and ex-NFL running back Duane Thomas in the same article? In the run-up to the 2006 election, I became so sick of listening to politicians (if I have to hear the phrase “cut and run” one more time, I think I’ll throw up) that I decided to make my pre-election op-ed a bit more lighthearted.

Cast Your Vote for a Better America

These past few weeks, campaign ads across the country have been calling the 2006 vote the most-important election in our history. That reminds me of a comment made by Dallas Cowboy Duane Thomas when a reporter claimed that Super Bowl VI was “the ultimate game.”

“If it is,” Thomas deadpanned, “why are they playing it again next year?”

Still, if Americans really want to effect change this time around, they might do well to remember the words of Albert Einstein, who defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

With that as my guiding wisdom, I’ve come up with a fool-proof method to make my vote count this election cycle. Feel free to adopt these rules as your own. We’ll just call it a public service:

•   Never vote for anyone with “a plan” to solve some intractable problem, be it corrupt lobbyists or unwinnable wars. If your candidate claims he knows how to deal with that loony in North Korea, he’s lying. If she has a plan for peace in the Middle East, she’s delusional. And never, ever vote for anyone with a “secret” plan. In 1968, Dick Nixon had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. The secret was that he didn’t have a clue. And it took him six years and another 22,000 lives to lose a war we could have lost in ’68 without his plan.

•    Never vote for anyone who promises to get government off your back. Why? Well, raise your hand if you think office-seekers aspire to stay out of our business. If they did, they’d aspire to stay home. Most of a politician’s job description involves meddling. If he thinks you’re too dumb to notice, then he doesn’t respect you enough to deserve your vote.

•   Never vote for anyone who overuses the adjective “new.” The last worthwhile new idea in politics was William Tecumseh Sherman’s: “If elected, I will not serve.” After 18 years in the Senate, do you really think Joe Lieberman will bring that “new direction” he keeps promising? I’d rather he get a new job and start working for a living like the rest of us. Now that would be a promising new direction.

•     Never vote for anyone who overuses the word “family,” either as a noun or an adjective. And, please, avoid all those who invoke oratory about defending marriage and, for God’s sake, “family values.” My unscientific research shows that the Washington family men who drone on the loudest about values usually have (1) mistresses, (2) divorce attorneys on permanent retainer, (3) MySpace.com accounts and (4) the names of Congressional pages on speed dial.

•   Never vote for anyone who seems to want the job too badly. Any candidate obsessed with attaining or retaining office obviously enjoys the public trough too much, and considers it an entitlement (again, see Joe Lieberman).

•   Finally, never vote for third-party candidates, like the Greens or the Libertarians. They’re just flexing their egos (see Ralph Nader or, again, Joe Lieberman). On the other hand, you might try a sixth- or seventh-party candidate — the Wiccans and the Zoroastrians have some interesting ideas.

[Editor’s Note: Also never vote for anyone who has been kissed by George W. Bush ... or Jeb Bush ... or Barbara Bush for that matter.]

Now that you know what to avoid, what should you actually do when you step into the voting booth? Consider writing in the names of people who don’t want the job. If you’re a woman, vote for your mother-in-law — a senatorial term will keep her in Washington and out of your hair. Men, pencil in your ex-wives ... or their lawyers.

I’m voting for the guy who fixes my appliances — he’s honest and knows how to get things done. His name’s Gary (I can’t remember his last name), and he probably won’t win, which is good, since my refrigerator’s starting to make funny noises, and I’m going to need him.

I’m also writing in the guy who trims my hedges. His name’s Hector, but I don’t think he’s a citizen, so he probably can’t be my Congressman. So much the better — he does beautiful work with my rhododendrons.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “This pinko has no respect for the American way of life. What is he … some sort of anarchist?” All I’m saying is, could we be any worse off with Ed, my dentist, representing us in Washington?

During the past six years, our government has lost the World Trade Center, a section of the Pentagon, most of our allies, a major city in Louisiana, all of the budget surplus (and then some), Osama bin Laden and the respect of the rest of the world. Over those same six years, Jeff, my mechanic, has kept my Saturn running like a top and never once overcharged me. That’s why I’m saving his name for my 2008 ballot.

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