Plus: Love those PistonsSteve Hammer

I was ill and stuck at home for part of last week, so I got a full dose of news coverage of the Ronald Reagan funeral and burial. Television really didn't give you much of a choice, because it was all-Reagan, all the time last week. Let's make the presidential candidates just shut up for the next few months. Part of the problem in political campaigns is that they just go on too damn long.

At the beginning of last week, the picture painted by the media was nothing but worshipful of Reagan, but by the end of the week, things had balanced out a bit.

From the early coverage, you never would have known that Reagan was a controversial leader. You would have thought the country had been 100 percent behind all of the Gipper's programs and there had never been any dissent.

Of course, that's not true. Just about every one of Reagan's proposals faced intense opposition and debate, but the Fox Newses of the world tried to make you believe otherwise.

The funeral itself was dignified and solemn, befitting a former president. Leaders of both parties gathered at Washington National Cathedral for the ceremony.

It's rare these days to see Democrats and Republicans agreeing on anything, so it was a big deal that there was a bipartisan show of respect for the 40th president of the United States.

It's back to the same old stuff this week, though. The Republicans will attack the Democrats and vice-versa. Especially given the fact that it looks like Bush is going to lose in November, expect the political season to keep getting nastier and nastier as the year goes on.

It wasn't always like this. I remember when I was a kid and Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford managed to run against each other without calling each other assholes, at least while the cameras were on.

More recently, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole ran a positive campaign against each other without the attack ads and constant allegations swirling back and forth.

That gave me an idea. I know this is a radical proposal, but let's make the presidential candidates just shut up for the next few months. Part of the problem in political campaigns is that they just go on too damn long.

It's only June and it feels like the presidential campaign has been going on for two years. That's because it has. Pretty much everyone who's going to vote in November has decided who they're going to support, and it's unlikely they're going to change their minds.

So why not put a muzzle on both Kerry and Bush until early October? I can't think of anything wrong with this proposal. Make it federal law that they can't buy any TV ads or spend any money on campaigning until the baseball season ends.

Surveys show that fewer than 10 percent of all voters are undecided in this election. We already know who we're going to support this year. Nothing Bush could say or do will switch my mind.

The only way Bush could get my vote is if it were conclusively proven that John Kerry is actually a conquering general from another planet and his goal is to enslave the human race under his reign. And maybe not even then.

Let's put a damper on all of the political discussion until October. We already know Bush is going to lose and this way, we get to enjoy our summer and early fall without them being interrupted by those pesky candidates.

Love those Pistons

I never thought I would say this, but I sure love those Detroit Pistons. By the time this sees print, they will either be the new NBA champions or will be headed to Los Angeles to close out the series.

Although they broke my heart when they beat the Pacers, their performance against the satanic Lakers has given me encouragement and hope for the future.

There's never been a heavier favorite in anything than the Lakers. The only people giving the Pistons a chance at taking the series have been the Pistons themselves, and they might have been bluffing.

Aside from the fact that I despise the Lakers so much, I love the Pistons because they embody something quite rare in professional sports. They're an actual, honest-to-goodness team where no one person stands out as a superstar.

They hustle and they scrap and they fight for every possession. They work together seemingly without ego. And, unlike the Lakers, they don't taunt the opposing team after every good play.

And it's also nice to see former Pacers coach Larry Brown finally get a championship after what seems like 75 years of coaching. He's a class act who always acts in a dignified manner, refusing to blame the officials.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson is also a champion, but he's been acting like a little girl throughout this series, whining about the refs and the crowd noise and everything except the fact that his team has been outclassed.

The Pistons have done what no team has ever been able to do on a sustained basis: neutralize Shaquille O'Neal. They're letting him run rampant by refusing to double-team him. Nobody else from the Lakers can score.

In a year where there has been very little to be enthusiastic about, the play of the Detroit Pistons has been an affirmation for underdogs everywhere. There should be no doubt now that they are among the all-time greatest championship teams ever.


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