My fellow audience members ...

As anyone who reads newspapers, listens to the radio, or has a neighbor with a particularly noisy television knows, in the last few weeks a dizzying array of candidates have kicked off their campaigns for the 2008 presidency of the United States. I, for one, am thankful that the candidates have been solicitous enough to give us approximately twenty months to make up our minds about their various attributes and demerits; after all, we couldn't be expected to make such a weighty and vital decision in fourteen. Haste makes waste, you know.

Although the sheer variety and range of the candidates' positions beggars description – some of them are distancing themselves from the Bush administration's policies, for example, and some of them are really distancing themselves – it still seems to me that there are a few people whose candidacies – and whose positions – haven't made their way to the mainstream media yet. I refer to the wide variety of television characters that are mulling or announcing their own presidential bids, bids that neither Fox News nor the New York Times have seen fit to cover. Though charges of a "fictionist" bias by the MSM may as yet be unwarranted – not all of us, after all, live in a reality-based community – I thought I would allow the Monitor to boldly address this gap in coverage by posting some stories from my own wire feed.

Los Angeles, CA. January 10 (JD) – Jack Bauer, agent with the Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU) in Los Angeles, announced his candidacy for the presidency today between 10:13 a.m. and 10:14 a.m., when he had to leave for a commercial break. Reading a prepared statement at CTU, Bauer announced, "We live in difficult times, and difficult times require strong leadership. Having saved the world seventeen different times in the last six years, I feel I can provide that leadership. Where are the files? WHERE ARE THE FILES? Oh, wrong statement. My apologies." Bauer refused to take questions, and so persistent accounts that his tough but lovable associate, Chloe, will be occupying the bottom half of the ticket remain unconfirmed.

Springfield. January 12 (JD) – Speaking from outside the nuclear power plant where he works, Homer Simpson, father of three, announced his candidacy for the presidency today. Facing a forest of microphones, the candidate, looking relaxed in a collared shirt and blue pants, refused to take a position on troop levels in Iraq, but in a move bound to stoke controversy, referred to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "mmm ... delicious", apparently mistaking the Iranian president for a type of dessert. Simpson's advisers, Lenny and Carl, refused to comment, and also failed to address the growing concern that Simpson's running mate, Disco Stu, may be too out of touch with younger voters.

Boston, MA (JD) - Speaking outside the Massachusetts state courthouse, noted attorney Denny Crane announced his candidacy for the presidency in a brief statement to the press. The announcement, rendered here verbatim: "Vote for me. Denny Crane."

When asked whether his colorful personal life, which has been fodder for the Boston tabloids, might turn off voters concerned with family values, Crane replied by accusing the questioner of communist sympathies and threatened to shoot him in the foot with one of the several guns he was carrying on his person. A scholar with the Center for the History of the American Presidency noted that this was the first time a candidate had ever announced his intentions while "packing heat," but said "you know Denny Crane - he loves his guns as much as he loves saying his own name." When reached for comment, the candidate replied, "Absolutely. Denny Crane."

I'm sure there will be other fictional characters who'll announce – I hear Barney from "How I Met Your Mother" is mulling a run, as is this guy named Trump from "The Apprentice," who can't possibly be real – and as it happens, I'll keep you posted. Remember, when the nation's capital relocates to Springfield, you heard it here first.

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