The State That Makes Al Gore Seem Interesting

In New Hampshire, it's Gore and Bradley: The human dialtone versus the product of reverse taxidermy.

| Wed Dec. 22, 1999 1:00 AM PST

You gotta love New Hampshire. Only state in the union where seat belts aren't mandatory. State-run liquor stores at freeway rest stops. And for some reason, home of the New Hampshire primary.

It's tiny. Just 1.1 million people. I mean, come on, in California, we have 12-step meetings that are bigger than that. And much more culturally diverse. If this place were any more Caucasian it would be translucent. Paler than the Osmond Family Christmas in Norway Special. We're talking whiter than a CEO Polo Invitational.

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You've heard of thinking outside the box? New Hampshire is the box you're encouraged to think outside of. The state motto: "Live Free or Die You Commie Pinko Yellow Rat Bastard You." Only the first four words fit on the license plate.

But it's where all the presidential contestants trot out their best gowns. And swipe the vaseline on the upper gums most liberally. And denounce taxes most vigorously. You probably knew this, but taxes are bad. Up here, there's no state income tax and no sales tax and that's how they like it, and they're not afraid to tell you, and if you don't agree, you are free to die or leave. Preferably both.

As a matter of fact, the first thing they want to know is, will the candidate take The Pledge. You know, The Pledge. The one that Bob Dole wouldn't take, but George "read my lips" Bush did. And that was the end of that dance. The Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, calls it just that: The Pledge. With two capitals. Pretty impressive, especially when you consider God only gets one.

All the big boys are up here now. Even George W. climbed off his pedestal to play with the neighborhood kids. As long as it was understood he'd be playing with his own ball. Don't go there. John McCain and Bill Bradley are walking around speaking frankly, which is also good. Folks around here have a irrational fear of being taken for granted, so the underdog always has a chance. As long as he ain't too under and he ain't too doggy. And speaking of Gary Bauer.... Kidding.

The other day Bill "The White Shadow" Bradley and Al "Short For Alpha Male" Gore debated at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, which is about 20 miles south of Manchester, which is about 20 miles south of the state capital, Concord, which is about the farthest point north where espresso coffee and The New York Times are available. You'd like to say the confrontation was exciting, but that would be like calling a race between snail species suspenseful. Their only mission: to slowly go where everyone has gone before and not screw up in front of the cameras.

Gore and Bradley: The human dialtone versus the product of reverse taxidermy. The people I felt sorry for were the audience. Had to seal the room from the outside. "Must stay awake. Warn others." Gore sounds like his hair looks. The funny thing is, I agree with almost everything he says, right up until he says it. And then, I don't agree with it anymore.

Word to Gore: Stop soliciting advice from Naomi Wolfe and start shaking down some advice from Naomi Campbell. Now there's a first lady a few of us would go out of our way to vote for. Has the Jesse Ventura victory taught us nothing?

Will Durst will be hosting the last five hours of PBS' Millennium 2000 coverage. And don't forget, as goes New Zealand, so goes the world.

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