Would tell the truth Like many loyal Americans, I, too, thought Dick Cheney was right: Kerry was the president the terrorists wanted. Didn’t he complain about the Vietnam War killing too many innocent people? Didn’t he say that the war in Iraq was a mistake? But then a friend of mine said no. “The terrorists want Bush to win,” he said. We were in a bar — he drinking an import, me drinking a near-beer. “His policies have killed so many innocent people that it’s easier for them to recruit new members. Kerry might try to correct some perceived wrongs and get enough powerful nations on our side to intimidate the enemy.”

Suddenly, I was in a quandary. I certainly didn’t want to vote for the terrorists’ candidate. “Well,” I said to my friend, “if a bomb goes off before the election, we’ll know that Bush is right and we must finish what he has begun.”

“Are you saying they would set a bomb in order to get Bush reelected? Wouldn’t they be afraid that Bush’s perceived incompetence would turn voters to Kerry?”

“Then maybe they want Kerry to win and therefore we should vote for Bush.”

“But they haven’t set a bomb yet, and no bomb might make the electorate think that Bush is doing a great job and therefore should be re-elected.”

“So, if we hate terrorism, we should vote for Kerry?” I suggested.

“Unless they’ve guessed our thinking and actually hope we vote for Kerry.”

“These terrorists are very clever.”

Once again, I was in a quandary. I thought if only there was some way I could have an honest discussion with a terrorist. I could ask him who he hoped would win and then vote for the other guy. Unfortunately, I don’t know any terrorists nor do I know how to recognize one. From the presidential campaign, I’ve learned they are all required to carry secret identification cards that read, “Freedom sucks,” and, “Liberty is highly overrated,” but how was I going to get them to open their wallets? I felt I couldn’t leave until I had worked this dilemma out, and so I ordered another near-beer.

That’s when I had a brilliant idea. I would call “Baghdad information” and ask to speak to a terrorist. I wasn’t worried about the expense. My phone company gives me great long distance rates after 11 p.m.

My friend was less than excited about my plan. “How would you know,” he said between beer sips, “the operator actually hooked you up with a real terrorist? It might be some wannabe terrorist — kind of like how security guards in our country are wannabe policemen.”

“Does it matter? The wannabe would wanna tell me what the real terrorist thought.”

My friend seemed disappointed in my response. “The wannabe would tell you who he honestly thought the real terrorist would want, but the real terrorist would lie and tell you the opposite.”

“Oh, I get it. If he wanted Bush to win, he would lie and tell me he hoped Bush would win because he knew that I knew that he would lie and figure I really thought he wanted Kerry to win.”

“The real terrorists are very clever.”

“No wonder we’re having problems winning this war.” It was then I noticed my beer had no taste. “Maybe I shouldn’t vote.”

“What? And let the terrorists have their way with us?”

For a half second, I debated ordering a real beer. If only I didn’t have to work the next day. If only someone would tell me who to vote for.

“There is one other option,” my friend said. I was all ears. “Since we can’t talk to a terrorist there, maybe we can guess what they’re thinking here.”

“How would you know one?”

“You misunderstand. I’m saying what kind of American is most like a terrorist?”

“Doesn’t that depend on your definition of ‘terrorist’?”

“Of course. I say it’s someone who is so convinced his own religious ideas are correct, that he would be happy to die for them. Someone who has no tolerance for another’s way of thinking.”

“Are you talking about Christian fundamentalists?” The very thought made me glad I stuck to my near-beer.

“And they want Bush. Therefore, we should vote for Kerry.”

“But maybe it’s all a ruse, and they’re only pretending to be closed-minded because they really want Kerry.”

“Fundamentalist Christians are not that clever.”

“But you just said they are the Americans most like terrorists.” Suddenly, I knew my duty. “You’re wrong, my friend,” I said, slamming down my beer mug, er, my near-beer mug, glad that I had kept a clear head for just this moment. “You’ve reduced fundamentalist Christians to stick figures, exactly what the terrorists try to do to us.”

“Then who will you vote for?” he asked.

The whole bar was staring. I raised my head high, answered and then headed for the front door. “The best man. The best man for the job.”

“Which job?” I heard a voice behind me, probably my ex-friend. “If you’re not 100 percent sure, your conclusion could be exactly what the terrorists are hoping for. They’re very clever, these terrorist fellows.”

I almost answered, “Takes one to know one,” but then I thought that would be too juvenile.

Voters Guide

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