If you read the papers for more than "the snappy repartee and witty banter" of America's First Couple, The Lockhorns, there's some chance you know not only that tomorrow is Election Day but that we're near the end of one of the tightest presidential contests since 1960. As Campaign 2K enters its final round with all the class and stamina of a Mike Tyson-Andrew Golota slap fight, few things are more fun to watch than the pathetic celebrity hijinks (or is that the hijinks of pathetic celebrities?) to which desperate pols resort in order to woo the last six or seven Americans who still bother to vote.
How else to explain the Gore campaign's end-of-days use of bloated octogenarian actor Ed Asner — whose past political triumphs include helping to topple the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua simply by declaring his support for it — to make automated phone calls to potential voters? So wigged out are they by the possibility of losing to an alleged dyslexic, Gore's people even forgot to have Asner tape his anti-George W. Bush message as fictional newsman Lou Grant, the character that decades ago fully displaced Asner in America's collective unconsciousness (and, we suspect, Asner's own).
"George W. Bush has a proposal that would undermine Social Security, even threatening current benefits," Asner told unsuspecting answering machines in key battleground states across the country. (Alas, the 82-year-old's reviews in this latest command performance are shockingly similar to those for his mercifully short-lived mid-'90s shitcom, Thunder Alley. "I just think this is awful," one call recipient told The Columbus Dispatch.)
The Gore campaign, of course, is hardly alone in harnessing the awesome power of modern technology to blanket the nation with high-stakes pitches from low-wattage celebrities. Over the frenzied final weekend of electioneering, the presidential campaigns pulled out all the stops, overloading long-distance circuits coast-to-coast with calls from famous, semi-famous, or vaguely famous supporters.
Here's the best celebrity call from each major presidential candidate. Sadly, Pat Buchanan and Ezola Foster failed to scrounge up even someone at the Larry "Bud" Melman level; the massive, negative psychic energy being directed to the Reform Party ticket from disgruntled supporters of challenger John Hagelin and the Transcendental Meditation community makes it likely that Buchanan may lose yet another internal organ along with tomorrow's election.
ALEC BALDWIN, calling on behalf of Al Gore:
Dear Concerned Citizen, if you're familiar with my best work — especially my appearances as myself in the videotapes The Best of Saturday Night Live: Chris Farley and The Best of Saturday Night Live: Phil Hartman, and my Oscar-bait star turn in the instant classic Thomas and the Magic Railroad — you know that above all else, I'm a man of integrity who fights for what he believes in. In fact, I've beaten up photographers to prove that very point.
A few weeks ago, I said that if George W. Bush was elected president — which we all know could only happen if the Republicans go on one of the widespread murderous rampages for which they're well-known and which trouble people of good will like you and me — I would leave the country. Shortly after that, I amended that statement a little, explaining that in fact, 'My wife and I will not leave the country, regardless of the outcome of the coming election.'
Now that it's just a few days before the most important election so far in the 21st century, I want you to vote for Al Gore, the only candidate in the race who has not been proven to be responsible for the destruction of entire planets, if not galaxies. At the same time, he's a stand-tall guy who won't be afraid to bomb aspirin factories in the Sudan to teach terrorists a stern lesson. Gore's also the only candidate I know of who supports an increase in the minimum wage and is hell-bent on giving America's middle-class the universal child care it so desperately needs.
As someone who played Col. William Travis, the stalwart defender of the Alamo, I know that sometimes you need to be willing to sacrifice everything for victory. So I'm calling to tell you personally that if Al Gore wins the election, I will leave the United States of America forever. Yes, an Al Gore victory will mean that I'll leave the country. It's that important to me. What's more, I'll take my wife Kim Basinger, and as many of my brothers as we can fit into our carry-on luggage. No shitting around this time. I mean what I say.
Where I come from — Long Island, New York — they call that "a pretty good deal." I hope you'll vote for Al Gore — and for my self-imposed exile.
MARILYN MANSON, calling on behalf of George W. Bush:
This is Marilyn Manson. You may remember my ass cheeks from the MTV Video Music Awards a few years back, when I performed my anti-fashion-statement fashion-statement song, "The Beautiful People." Or you may be wondering where to find an import version of my CD Holy Wood, or the tour dates of my Guns, God & Government show.
Today, though, I'm calling for something less important than any of that, but something still worth your time. Or, at any rate, worth my time. I want you to vote for George W. Bush, the Texas governor who's running for president of the United States. A little bit ago, I went on the record saying that, "If I had to pick, I'd pick Bush and not necessarily by default. I know I don't support what the other team is about." Granted, I said it in Talk magazine, figuring that that way nobody would notice it. But I recognize that my statement was shocking, sort of like Cat "Peace Train" Stevens's support for the murder of blasphemous novelist Salman Rushdie — only in reverse, and without all that Islamic stuff thrown in. So maybe it's not like that at all.
Whatever. I'm calling you to explain my support for a Republican presidential candidate.
You've heard of self-interest, right? Well, that explains most of why I like Bush so much. For starters, his plan will cut my taxes, so that's more money for me and my fiancée, Rose McGowan, who has lazy fans who don't update their devotional Web sites very often. More to the point, though, I think it will be better for my career if Bush gets elected and the Republicans maintain control of Congress. Better yet, here's hoping that a Bush/Republican victory reenergizes the Christian Right. I recognize that many Democrats are just as asinine as Republicans when it comes to the "culture war" shit, but for decades now, the GOP has been synonymous with moral outrage, wild accusations of Satanism, and high-profile horror at the sight of simulated fellatio.
Look, I recognize more than anyone that I've been living on borrowed time for virtually my entire career. It's getting harder and harder to get a rise out of people outside a few nimrodded politicians. When I'm planning my retirement — and George W. Bush's plan to let younger people put a portion of their Social Security taxes into private accounts is a real difference between the governor and Al Gore — I need some guarantee that officeholders are going to rant against me with enough conviction to keep putting asses in the seats at my shows.
So for god's sake, or Satan's for that matter, but especially for my sake, pull the switch George W. Bush. And vote Republican straight down the line.
TIM ROBBINS calling on behalf of Ralph Nader
You know me best from such serious, independent movie projects as Mission to Mars and Bull Durham. But I also care about politics and what a terrible mess this country is in. As I learned while filming the straight-to-video classic Arlington Road, which I strongly urge all concerned citizens to rent on VHS or DVD, this country is overrun by insane, paranoid right-wing bomb manufacturers who are convinced that people like you and me hate shitheads like them.
That's why I'm urging you to vote for Ralph Nader, the only candidate who, as my radical filmmaking friend Michael Moore has pointed out, isn't "evil." That's saying something in a world that let me act in a movie like Howard the Duck. Ralph likes to say the only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans — and Marilyn Manson — is the velocity with which they break out their knee pads when corporate special interests walk into the room. Ralph's beyond the grasp of any special interest — well, except for the trial lawyers and a bunch of other groups — so you don't have to worry about that if you vote for Nader.
Look, I don't have time to convince you of anything, like how Ralph's call for publicly financed elections would ever possibly enfranchise anyone who doesn't already hold political power. Or how his plan for nationalized health care would result in something other than future generations of Americans having teeth like they do in England. Or even what he thinks about issues other than "corporate power."
Just trust me on this one. It should be obvious that I and my Hollywood friends know more than you. But if that's not enough for you, let me throw in a bonus. We've heard that Alec Baldwin has been calling on behalf of Al Gore, saying that he, his wife, and his brothers would all vamoose if Gore wins.
Here's my pitch: If Ralph Nader gets more than 5 percent of the popular vote, I will use the bomb-making techniques I studied to get into character for Arlington Road to blow up every movie house that's still showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which stars my longtime companion Susan Sarandon (she's behind Ralph too!). If Nader gets 10 percent, I'll even take out the Broadway revival that's opening November 15 in the Circle in the Square Theater. If Nader gets 15 percent, I'll blow it up during an actual performance.
So please, vote for Ralph. He knows what's best for you. I'm sure of it.
Nick Gillespie is editor-in-chief of reason. This story originally appeared in Suck, and can be viewed in that format here.