Every Vote Re-Counts

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BERNARD SHAW: This is Bernard Shaw for CNN. As we enter our 236th consecutive hour of non-stop election coverage, we have a late-breaking development: Election officials in Florida have announced that they still don’t know who won. All of the major television networks have interrupted their regular programming to allow the officials to make this statement, the seventh such statement in the last 24 hours.

VIDEOTAPE OF FLORIDA OFFICIAL, WHO IS WEARING A PAIR OF OVERALLS AND HOLDING A LIVE PIG: We’s still countin’ th’ votes. They’s a big pile of ’em, out back to the shed. We was doin’ the hand count, only ‘cept our hands only goes up to nine or 10, so we had to start usin’ our toes, too.

BERNARD SHAW: Both campaigns have reacted to this statement by filing several dozen lawsuits, some of which, having been prepared in apparent haste, name O.J. Simpson as defendant.

We now go live to political analyst Wolf Blitzer, who has nothing new to add.

WOLF BLITZER: I once had a layover in Florida.

BERNARD SHAW: Thank you, Wolf. The American Humor Council announced today that jokes about the confusing ballots in Palm Beach are no longer funny, and that people should stop e-mailing them to each other. Please resume the practice of sending blonde jokes to your friends and co-workers, the council urged. The council also mentioned that Jay Leno is not funny, and that old people should stop laughing at him. The old people, however, confused by the baffling television remote control, continued watching Leno, despite actually wanting to see Nightline.

We take you now to a man-on-the-street interview, where an anonymous moron is saying something stupid.

ANONYMOUS MORON: I didn’t vote, but if I had, I would have voted for Ralph Nader, because he smokes weed. Wooooooo!

BERNARD SHAW: This just in, CNN is projecting … flickering lights on a white screen. We’re calling it a movie. Now to Wolf Blitzer, who has something unenlightening to add.

WOLF BLITZER: Florida is where Jerry’s parents lived on “Seinfeld.”

BERNARD SHAW: Thank you, Wolf. The Associated Press reported a few minutes ago that, contrary to popular belief, news has continued to occur elsewhere in the world. For example, the entire continent of Africa was swallowed up by the sea several days ago. The Associated Press is projecting the inhabitants as dead, but CNN is exercising caution.

This just in: Florida election officials have an important announcement to make.

FLORIDA OFFICIAL: Gov’nur Jeb done blowed off one o’ his countin’ fingers whilst makin’ moonshine out back to the state capitol.

BERNARD SHAW: Governor Bush and Vice President Gore filed 14 lawsuits between them before the election official had even finished speaking.

CNN is projecting … its voice, to be heard across the crowded room.

In other news, Panama reports that it has misplaced the Panama Canal. It was just here yesterday, the Central American nation was heard to mutter.

We go now to Wolf Blitzer, who will kill a few seconds while I relieve myself into this cup under the desk at which I have been sitting for 236 hours.

WOLF BLITZER: Florida was the name of the mother on “Good Times.”

BERNARD SHAW: I’m not done yet.

WOLF BLITZER: She was played by Esther Rolle.

BERNARD SHAW: There. Thank you, Wolf. We’ve just received word that no one cared about this election in the first place and that the ongoing controversy has made people even less interested. We will stay with this story until our ratings no longer justify it.

CNN is projecting … its childhood insecurities onto its spouse. CNN regrets this and promises to see a counselor.

Florida is a backwater state full of Elian Gonzalez-kidnapping crackers. This is not a quote; it is merely an observation. More election coverage when we return from this commercial break.

This is my obligatory Election 2000 column. Every columnist in America wrote one. It was part of our credo.

The line in the first paragraph about the networks interrupting their regular programming in order to tell us nothing was directly inspired by Fox interrupting "Malcolm in the Middle" on Wednesday, Nov. 15, so the Florida people could tell us they hadn't decided anything yet. We lost seven minutes of "Malcolm in the Middle," and it made me angry.

The line about Panama misplacing the canal was directly inspired by a joke I made in 1999, when control of the canal was about to revert to Panama. Upon hearing a newsperson talk about the impending change-over, I said, to whoever was listening, "Oh, what are they doing to do with it? They'll just lose it."

The hardest part about writing this column, aside from not being particularly interested in writing it, was finding a fresh angle on it. "Saturday Night Live" had spoofed it extensively, as had The Onion, Dave Barry, David Letterman, Jay Leno (not that I watch him), and pretty much everyone else. Whenever there's a remarkably noteworthy news event that doesn't kill anyone, suddenly everyone's a comedian. It makes life harder for those of us who actually are comedians. When a plane crashes, you don't see me rushing out and acting like I'm a doctor, getting in the way of the real doctors, do you? (Answer: No.)

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