Voting for president is a lot like sex—and not just because it takes place every four years in the solitude of a semi-private booth. Both are intensely personal activities that nonetheless can have profound public consequences. We might add that both often involve drug-and-alcohol-fueled delusions and morning-after feelings of guilt, shame, and recrimination.
As Campaign 2004 entered its home stretch, we asked a variety of policy wonks, journalists, thinkers, and other public figures in the reason universe to reveal for whom they are voting this fall, for whom they pulled the lever last time around, their most embarrassing presidential vote, and their favorite president of all time. Their answers, as of late August, follow.
Contributing Editor Bagge is best known as author of the alternative comic book Hate.
2004 vote: If it looks like my home state could go either way by Election Day, I'll vote for John Kerry. Otherwise I'll vote for the Libertarian Party's candidate, Michael Badnarik. That's been my M.O. every election year, since the Democratic candidate usually strikes me as the lesser of two evils (if not by much).
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Every time I've voted for a major-party candidate I've felt embarrassed. I vaguely recall voting in '88 for Michael Dukakis, whose only positive attribute was that his last name wasn't Bush (as is the case with John F. Kerry).
Favorite president: George Washington, for actually refusing to assume as much power as he could have gotten away with. I can't think offhand of another president that could be said about.
Bailey is Reason's science correspondent.
2004 vote: I'm undecided between Republican George W. Bush and Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Bush has been a great disappointment. But Kerry will be even worse — raising taxes, overregulating, and socializing more of medicine. What to do?
2000 vote: George W. Bush. I couldn't possibly have voted for Gore since he dislikes me personally. Besides, I was presciently worried (you can ask my wife) about a popular vote/electoral vote mismatch.
Most embarrassing vote: George McGovern, 1972. I was 18 and thought I was a socialist.
Favorite president: George Washington. The man spurned being made king and stepped peacefully down from office.
John Perry Barlow
Barlow is a songwriter for the Grateful Dead and other bands, the co-founder and vice chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a Berkman Fellow at Harvard Law School.
2004 vote: I'm voting for John Kerry, though with little enthusiasm. This is only because I would prefer almost anything to another four years of George W. Bush. I don't believe the Constitution, the economy, or the environment can endure another Bush administration without sustaining almost irreparable damage.
2000 vote: John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party. I discovered, in the voting booth, that a friend of mine was his vice presidential candidate. I couldn't bring myself to vote for Bush, Gore, or Nader and had intended to cast no presidential vote.
Most embarrassing vote: I'm embarrassed for my country that in my entire voting life, there has never been a major-party candidate whom I felt I could vote for. All of my presidential votes, whether for George Wallace, Dick Gregory, or John Hagelin, have been protest votes.
Favorite president: Jefferson, who defined, in his works and in his person, just about everything I love about America.
Bovard is author of The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave Macmillan) and seven other books.
2004 vote: I will probably vote for Badnarik, the Libertarian Party candidate. Both of the major-party candidates brazenly flaunt their contempt for the U.S. Constitution. Regardless of who wins in November, the U.S. likely will have a lousy president for the next four years.
2000 vote: I abstained.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted for Gerald Ford in 1976. He was not that embarrassing, compared to Jimmy Carter. And compared to George W. Bush, Ford was verbally graceful.
Favorite president: It might be a coin toss between Washington and Jefferson.
Washington set a magnificent example of self-restraint, protecting the new nation from both his own power lust and unnecessary wars (despite foolish popular demands). Jefferson masterfully reined in the federal government from the tyrannical Alien and Sedition Act persecutions that John Adams launched.
Brand is the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of, among other books, The Media Lab (Viking) and How Buildings Learn (Penguin).
2004 vote: Kerry. He's knowledgeable enough and appears to do well in crunches. He has the skills and connections to begin to undo the damage of the Bush years. He's highly ambitious, which is fine with me. And he personally killed a man who was trying to kill him and his crew. You could also say he personally attacked a government that was trying to kill his generation. Those actions take sand. Too bad they won't come up in the debates.
2000 vote: Al Gore.
Most embarrassing vote: Lyndon Johnson.
Favorite president: Theodore Roosevelt for a fine blend of intellect and zzzzzest, tied with Bill Clinton for the same reasons.
Carey stars in Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, beginning October 7 on the WB.
2004 vote: Quit pretending that it matters, would you? Can you vote for all the nefarious cabals that really run the world? No. So fuck it.
2000 vote: I voted Libertarian, for all the good it did me.
Most embarrassing vote: Is it considered embarrassing to cast a vote out of principle for someone you know doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning? Oh, OK. Then they're all embarrassing.
Favorite president: Andrew Jackson, because he's what a lap dance costs (and because, ironically, he opposed having a National Bank).
Cavanaugh is Reason's Web editor.
2004 vote: Michael Badnarik, because he's Not Bush either.
2000 vote: Ralph Nader.
Most embarrassing vote: Dukakis in 1988. I thought he looked cool in that tank!
Favorite president: If we can't count John Hanson, then Warren G. Harding; would that they could all achieve so little.
Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
2004 vote: I haven't decided between John Kerry and Michael Badnarik. I have only the dimmest hopes for a Kerry presidency, but I think Bush has to be held accountable for Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam, and the accelerated growth of the federal government.
2000 vote: Harry Browne, in keeping with my usual (though not automatic) practice of voting for the Libertarian presidential nominee.
Most embarrassing vote: Richard Nixon, in my first election, 1972, an experience that helped estrange me permanently from the Republican Party.
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson, who took great and justified pride that as president, he eliminated internal taxes and avoided war, and who peacefully doubled the size of the young nation.
Senior Editor Doherty is author of This Is Burning Man (Little, Brown).
2004 vote: I am a principled nonvoter. If I were forced to vote at gunpoint, I'd pick the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik, whose views on the proper role of government most closely resemble mine.
2000 vote: I did not vote. Those who vote have no right to complain.
Most embarrassing vote: I've been saved the embarrassment of ever having to feel any sense of responsibility, of even the smallest size, for the actions of any politician.
Favorite president: In their roles as president, I can't be an enthusiastic fan of any of them, but for his role in crafting the Constitution, a document that held some (unrealized) promise to limit government powers, James Madison.
Epstein is a professor of law at the University of Chicago and author, most recently, of Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (University of Chicago).
2004 vote: I don't know who the Libertarian candidate is this time, but you can put me down as voting for him; anyone but the Big Two. As far as I can tell, the debate thus far has borne no relation to the important issues facing the nation…except Vietnam. It's just two members of the same statist party fighting over whose friends will get favors.
2000 vote: I can't remember.
Most embarrassing vote: Since I don't remember who I vote for from one election to the next, it's hard to say. I suppose Richard Nixon in '72, though that doesn't mean I'd want to have voted for George McGovern either.
Favorite president: I'm certainly a Calvin Coolidge fan; he made some mistakes, but he was a small-government guy.
Charles Paul Freund
Freund is a senior editor at Reason.
2004 vote: I'm still thinking about it.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Andre Marrou.
Favorite president: I have no favorite president.
Contributing Editor Garvin, author of Everybody Had His Own Gringo: The CIA and the Contras (Brassey's), writes about television for The Miami Herald.
2004 vote: I live in Florida. My votes are randomly assigned based on the interaction of our voting machines, the Miami-Dade Election Commission, and passing UFOs.
2000 vote: See above.
Most embarrassing vote: My presidential record is solid. However, I once cast a write-in ballot for Dynasty's Joan Collins for Congress. It was an immature act, insulting to America's democratic institutions, and I regret it. Upon reflection,China Beach's Dana Delany would have been a more deserving choice.
Favorite president: William Henry Harrison caught pneumonia while delivering his inaugural address, lay in bed barely conscious for six weeks, and then died, his presidency having done hardly any damage to the country.
Robert A. George
George is a New York Post columnist, West Indian Catholic stand-up comic, and recovering Republican flunky.
2004 vote: Living in a maximum blue state allows me to vote my conscience. Rather than vote for an entitlement-expanding, tariff-imposing, deficit-increasing, big-government Johnson Republican or an entitlement-expanding, tariff-imposing, tax-increasing, big-government Nixon Democrat, I will vote for Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik.
2000 vote: Harry Browne. Bush's last-second evasiveness on his DUI arrest was too reminiscent of the slippery tongue of the guy about to leave office. Bob Jones University didn't help either.
Most embarrassing vote: Never actually did it, but had I been a citizen the year I turned 18 (1980), I would have (gulp!) voted for Jimmy Carter. It's the secret shame I have carried around for decades.
Favorite president: Abraham Lincoln, for proving that it's best to keep the band together despite many years of creative differences. (Had the Beatles followed his example, the world would have been a much better place.)
Gillespie is editor of Reason and of the new anthology Choice: The Best of Reason (BenBella Books).
2004 vote: Probably no one but maybe Badnarik, if only to register dissent from the Crest and Colgate parties.
2000 vote: Harry Browne, I think, but possibly no one.
Most embarrassing vote: In 1984, the first time I could vote for president and the only time I've voted for a major-party candidate, I cast a ballot for Walter Mondale. I empathize with complete losers, and a guy whose only memorable campaign line — "Where's the beef?" — came from a Wendy's commercial (not even a McDonald's spot!) was a loser of historic proportions.
Favorite president: Richard Nixon, who has done more in my lifetime than any other U.S. pol to discredit the idea that government should wield massive and unexamined power over citizens.
Contributing Editor Godwin is legal director of Public Knowledge.
2004 vote: Kerry. Let's put it this way: After four years of Bush, the Republican Party has become an example of a political machine out of control. Everything they used to decry — reckless foreign intervention, fiscal irresponsibility, deficit spending — they now represent. You don't have to love Kerry or the Democrats to think it's time for a change. Worst case, at least we'd get divided government for four years.
2000 vote: Gore, only because as a Texan I already had strong reservations about George W. Bush.
Most embarrassing vote: Not a one.
Favorite president: I have a lot of fondness for Theodore Roosevelt: In him you had a strong, articulate president who never thought he lost manhood points by being pro-environment. I also like Eisenhower; he presided over a strong American response to a very polarized East-West world.
Hentoff, a nationally syndicated columnist, writes regularly for both the Village Voice and The Washington Times. An expanded paperback edition of his book The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance (Seven Stories Press) will be released this fall.
2004 vote: I'm not voting for anyone at the top of the ticket. I can't vote for Bush, who supports Ashcroft's various "revisions" to the Bill of Rights, since our liberties are what we're supposed to be fighting for. As for Kerry, I think he's an empty suit: How much time did he give his years in the Senate in his convention speech, about 40 seconds?
2000 vote: I voted for Nader last time. But he wants to pull the troops out of Iraq, which would lead to a state of nature like Thomas Hobbes had; it would be disastrous. He's also become part of the bash-Israel crowd, and to get on ballots he's been cooperating with Lenora Fulani, who has been accused of harboring anti-Semitic biases.
Most embarrassing vote: Well, I didn't mind voting for Nader in 2000, because Gore had a whole series of empty suits during that campaign, and I didn't think much of Bush either. I can't think of any votes I'm particularly embarrassed about.
Favorite president: FDR. He could have done much more to help the victims of the Holocaust, but he did act decisively (if trickily) to take us into the war, which was essential. Otherwise we'd all be speaking German. And as Cass Sunstein has pointed out, FDR was the one who laid out a "second bill of rights," with economic freedoms like a right to decent housing.
Higgs is a senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and author, most recently, of Against Leviathan (Independent Institute).
2004 vote: I never vote. I don't wish to soil my hands.
2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted only once in a presidential election, in 1976, and I did so on that occasion only so that I could irritate my left-liberal colleagues at the University of Washington by telling them that I had voted for "that idiot" Gerald Ford.
Favorite president: Grover Cleveland, because he, more so than any of the others, acted in accordance with his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution, despite great pressures to act otherwise.
Jillette is the larger, louder half of the comedy/magic team Penn & Teller and star of Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
2004 vote: I'm undecided (always the stupidest position). I might do the moral thing and not vote at all, or do the sensible thing and vote Libertarian (Badnarik, right?), or I might make 100 bucks from my buddy Tony and vote for Bush. (I told Tony that Bush and Kerry were exactly the same, and he bet me 100 bucks that I didn't believe that enough to really truly vote for Bush.) But if you want to be pragmatic, I'm in Nevada, so who cares?
2000 vote: Harry Browne!
Most embarrassing vote: I must have voted Republicrat at least once, but voting is secret — the Founding Fathers didn't want us to be embarrassed by our evil pasts.
Favorite president: Teller (he's president of Buggs and Rudy Discount Productions [Penn & Teller's company]), because he can lie without saying a word.
Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado.
2004 vote: George Bush. This will be the first election in which I have ever voted for a Republican for president. We're in a war in which the survival of civilization is at stake, and Bush is the only candidate who realizes the gravity of the danger we face and who is determined to win World War IV.
2000 vote: Ralph Nader.
Most embarrassing vote: Harry Browne, 1996.
Favorite president: George Washington, for leading the nation through extremely perilous times, and for setting the highest standard of personal conduct and patriotic leadership.
Contributing Editor McClaughry, a senior policy adviser in the early Reagan White House, is president of the Ethan Allen Institute in Vermont.
2004 vote: George W. Bush. Unlike his opponents, he at least understands that only America can defeat militant Islam by a combination of military force and the ideology of freedom. At home, his recent advocacy for "a new era of ownership" promises the only way out of statist stagnation.
2000 vote: Bush.
Most embarrassing vote: Nixon, 1972.
Favorite president: Jefferson. He respected the Constitution, shrank government, slashed taxes, paid cash for Louisiana, hammered the Algerine pirates, reined in the judiciary, and began to extinguish the national debt.
Contributing Editor McCloskey teaches economics, history, English, communications, and anything else they tell her to teach at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
2004 vote: Can you believe this? The last time I voted for anyone but a Libertarian was for George McGovern in 1972, against the war. This time, another Democrat gets it — though as an economist I know it's irrational to vote at all.
2000 vote: For whomever the Libertarian Party candidate was. You expect me to remember?
Most embarrassing vote: Lyndon Johnson in 1964, my very first vote. Because Goldwater was scary. Did I know scary?
Favorite president: Speaking of scary, the office is. So the least effective: Warren Harding.
McElroy is a Fox News columnist, the editor of ifeminists.net, and a fellow at the Independent Institute.
2004 vote: I'm voting for No One for at least three reasons: 1) As a Canadian, I am spared the insulting process of punching a ballot to express which power glutton should prevail; 2) as an anarchist, I refuse to legitimize the process that puts anyone in a position of unjust power over people's lives; and 3) as a practical matter of value returned for effort, the time is better spent enjoying family or working.
2000 vote: No One. I admit to being so anti-Clinton and so appalled by the prospect of political correctness continuing that I uttered out loud "anyone but Gore" — which, in practical terms, meant Bush. Those famous last words are right up there with Socrates saying, "I drank what?"
Most embarrassing vote: I have never voted in a political proceeding. But when I first became a libertarian while living in California, I did support the Libertarian Party candidate. This would be more embarrassing if I had not learned from my mistake. The lesson: It is not the particular man in power that I oppose but the power itself, which is unjust. As a matter of logic, if nothing else, I cannot oppose the office as illegitimate while waving a straw hat and yelling, "Elect my man to it!"
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson in his first term because he did less harm than any other president.
Murray is W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author, most recently, of Human Accomplishment (HarperCollins).
2004 vote: Reluctantly — very reluctantly — George Bush. I find the Democrats so extremely obnoxious that I have to vote against them, and I can't do that voting Libertarian.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: For Bob Dole in 1996, because I found Bill Clinton so extremely obnoxious that I had to vote against him. Probably my 2004 vote will be my second most embarrassing ballot.
Favorite president: Gotta be George Washington. He was acutely conscious that everything he did would be a precedent, and just about every choice he made was right.
O'Rourke is H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and author, most recently, of Peace Kills (Atlantic Monthly Press).
2004 vote: George W. Bush, because I don't want Johnnie Cochran on the Supreme Court.
2000 vote: George W. Bush. (I always vote Republican because Republicans have fewer ideas. Although, in the case of George W., not fewer enough.)
Most embarrassing vote: A 1968 write-in for "Chairman Meow," my girlfriend's cat. It seemed very funny at the time. As I mentioned, this was 1968.
Favorite president: Calvin Coolidge — why say more?
Paglia is a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
2004 vote: John Kerry. In the hope that he will restore our alliances and reduce rabid anti-Americanism in this era of terrorism when international good will and cooperation are crucial.
2000 vote: Ralph Nader. Because I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered.
Most embarrassing vote: Bill Clinton the second time around. Because he did not honorably resign when the Lewinsky scandal broke and instead tied up the country and paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11.
Favorite president: John F. Kennedy. Not that he accomplished much. But he was the first candidate I campaigned for as an adolescent, and I still admire his articulateness and vigor. The Kennedys gave the White House sophistication and style.
Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard and author of The Blank Slate (Penguin), How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton), and The Language Instinct (HarperCollins).
2004 vote: Kerry. The reason is reason: Bush uses too little of it. In the war on terror, his administration stints on loose-nuke surveillance while confiscating nail clippers and issuing color-coded duct tape advisories. His restrictions on stem cell research are incoherent, his dismissal of possible climate change inexcusable.
2000 vote: Gore, with misgivings.
Most embarrassing vote: I left Canada shortly after turning 18 and became a U.S. citizen only recently, so I haven't voted enough to be too embarrassed yet.
Favorite president: James Madison, for articulating the basis for democracy in terms of the nature of human nature.
John J. Pitney Jr.
Contributing Editor Pitney is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and author of The Art of Political Warfare (University of Oklahoma Press).
2004 vote: I'm voting for Bush. He cut taxes. Kerry would raise them.
2000 vote: Bush. Former reason Editor Virginia Postrel put it well: "Bush is a mixed bag. But I think Al Gore is the devil."
Most embarrassing vote: I'm comfortable with my presidential votes in general elections. In 1980, though, I hesitated to back Reagan in the primaries because I didn't think he would win in November. Oops.
Favorite president: Abraham Lincoln preserved the Union and wrote some of the most beautiful prose that ever came from an American pen.
Poole is the founder, former president, and current director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation. He served on the Bush-Cheney transportation policy task force during the 2000 campaign and on the administration's transition team.
2004 vote: Bush, reluctantly, despite his troubling expansions of the federal government and threats to civil liberties. The alternative is simply worse. We elect not an individual but a consulting team, and we'll have a far better team in place with Bush than with Kerry.
2000 vote: Bush.
Most embarrassing vote: Richard Nixon in 1968. What a disaster! But at least he kept his promise to eliminate the draft.
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson, despite his flaws, for his intellect, limited government philosophy, and strong support for separation of church and state.
Rauch is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for National Journal.
2004 vote: I'll recuse myself from this…I never tell my vote. A journalist thing.
2000 vote: See above.
Most embarrassing vote: See above.
Favorite president: Lincoln. All the usual reasons. Favorite prez of past 40 years: Bush 41. Beats Reagan and everybody else hands down.
Rennie is editor-in-chief of Scientific American.
2004 vote: John Kerry. Anybody who has seen Scientific American's editorials during the last few years knows we're deeply unhappy with the de facto anti-scientism of the current administration. Science shouldn't trump all else in setting policy, but it would be a nice change of pace for a White House to put science ahead of ideology again. Of course, I'm keeping my expectations low.
2000 vote: Remember that guy? The one that everybody said claimed to have invented the Internet, except he hadn't said that at all? He seemed good.
Most embarrassing vote: Back in college in 1980, flushed with youthful sanctimony, I voted for John Anderson. The voting booth is a bad place to be an idealist. But at least when I threw my vote away on a third-party candidate, it was irrelevant.
Favorite president: John Quincy Adams showed that it was possible for the son of a president to rise to that same office in a highly disputed election without being remembered as a dangerous embarrassment.
Reynolds, a professor of law at the University of Tennessee, publishes InstaPundit.com.
2004 vote: Most likely George Bush, and for one reason: the war. I'm having trouble trusting Kerry on that.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Dukakis, '88.
Favorite president: Calvin Coolidge, who knew his limitations.
Along with his partner Jane Metcalfe, Rossetto started Wired.
2004 vote: Bush may be wrong about everything else, but he is right about the issue that matters most for my children's future: stopping Islamic fascism. And Manchurian candidate Kerry and the Copperheads, er, Democrats, are just a joke, preferring to act as though this probably generation-spanning war is about politics, not the survival of the West.
2000 vote: I am proud to say that I have never voted for president in my life, despite having eight opportunities to do so, and really resent being forced to do so now.
Most embarrassing vote: This one — but the alternative of not voting and allowing a billionaire currency speculator like George Soros to pick the next U.S. president is too dire to contemplate.
Favorite president: Chauncey Gardner, from Being There. He was even less verbose than my next favorite president, Calvin Coolidge.
Sanchez is Reason's assistant editor.
2004 vote: Kerry would get my vote if I didn't live in the District of Columbia, but the prospect of raising his total from 94.0001 percent to 94.0002 percent isn't quite enough to lure me to the polls. Badnarik is embarrassing, and Bush is so egregiously dishonest and destructive that even electing a mannequin like Kerry is an acceptable price of ousting him.
2000 vote: I didn't vote, though (to my shame, in retrospect) I was optimistic about G.W. Bush after the convention speeches, where all that focus on Social Security reform, educational choice, and "humble" foreign policy led me to think he might do some net good.
Most embarrassing vote: I've managed to spare myself that particular breed of embarrassment by not voting. Blessed are the apathetic, for they get the better even of their political blunders.
Favorite president: Grover Cleveland, who vetoed a popular agricultural assistance bill with the phrase, "Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people."
Shafer writes the Press Box column for Slate.
2004 vote: Who is the Libertarian candidate this year? That's who. Because I'm a yellow dog Libertarian.
2000 vote: Who was the Libertarian candidate that year? That's who.
Most embarrassing vote: I've never been embarrassed in the slightest by my presidential ballot.
Favorite president: Richard Nixon, because he's the gift that keeps giving.
Shermer is publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of The Science of Good and Evil (Henry Holt), and a bicycling enthusiast.
2004 vote: John Kerry. I'm a libertarian, but in 2000 I voted my conscience under the assumption that it probably didn't matter who won between Bush and Gore (Tweedledee and Tweedledum when compared to Browne), and I was wrong. It did matter. The world situation is too precarious and too dangerous to flip a coin, the Libertarian candidate cannot win, Bush's foreign policy is making the world more dangerous and more precarious rather than less, and Kerry has a good chance to win and an even better chance to improve our situation. Most important, he's a serious cyclist who wears the yellow "LiveStrong" bracelet in support of Lance Armstrong's cancer foundation and Tour de France win.
2000 vote: Harry Browne, because like the Naderites on the other end of the spectrum I voted my conscience.
Most embarrassing vote: Richard Nixon, 1972, my first presidential vote cast, just out of high school. My poli-sci profs the next several years of college regaled us with daily updates about Watergate. Ooops…
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson, because 1) he was a champion of liberty, 2) he applied scientific thinking to the political, economic, and social spheres, and 3) when he dined alone at the White House there was more intelligence in that room than when John F. Kennedy hosted a dinner there for a roomful of Nobel laureates.
Sirius, former editor-in-chief of Mondo 2000, edits NeoFiles at life-enhancement.com/NeoFiles and is author of, most recently, Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House (Random House).
2004 vote: I can't bring myself to say it. I'm voting for the only guys who stand a chance of replacing the complete insanity of the Bush administration and return us to the ordinary consensus madness we had come to know so well. You know, John and John.
2000 vote: Even though I ran as a write-in candidate myself, I wound up voting for Nader because I thought he gave such rousing and impressive speeches. I wouldn't actually want him to be president though. He's way too puritanical. Did anybody notice that he joined in on the Janet Jackson nipple crisis? Instead of objecting from a religious point of view, he objects from the view that corporate media are "spewing filth" into our environment. The health fascists are everywhere.
Most embarrassing vote: Ralph Nader in 2000. First of all, some other people actually voted for me. My insincerity is justifiable only in a dadaist context, which I therefore proclaim. And secondly, it encouraged Nader, who is now clearly addicted to the run.
Favorite president: It's difficult to rate the quality of an 18th-century president's decisions at this distance, but I choose Thomas Jefferson for eloquently elucidating many of the ideas and attitudes of the Age of Reason.
Bradley A. Smith
Smith is chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
2004 vote: That's one an election commissioner better not answer; we're not supposed to engage in partisan activities
2000 vote: I don't want to answer that one either.
Most embarrassing vote: I'm too smart to cast embarrassing ballots.
Favorite president: Warren G. Harding; he's a vastly underrated president and a man of great ordinary decency.
Smith, the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in economics, was born and raised in Kansas and inspired to learn by a farmer-teacher in a one-room country schoolhouse.
2004 vote: I am not voting for Kerry. Yet to be decided is whether I will vote for Bush or for neither.
2000 vote: Bush.
Most embarrassing vote: Many of the presidents were embarrassments, but not for me as a voter, because I always think of myself as voting against the other one. This policy led me to vote "for" Humphrey, Nixon, and others, but I saw myself as choosing negatively.
Favorite president: Eisenhower, for whom the affairs of state could always await another round of golf — for his not wanting to "get bogged down in a land war in Asia," and his concern about the military-industrial complex, which generalizes to other complexes like the Treasury-investment-banking complex.
Sullivan, a senior editor at The New Republic, blogs at andrewsullivan.com.
2004 vote: I can't vote because I'm not a citizen. So I can only "support" candidates, and I'm not supporting anyone in this election.
2000 choice: Bush.
Most embarrassing choice: I'm unembarrassed by all my choices.
Favorite president: Lincoln, of course. He saved the Union.
Senior Editor Sullum is a syndicated columnist and author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher Penguin).
2004 vote: The thought of choosing between Bush and Kerry, or casting another pathetic protest vote for the Libertarian candidate, is so depressing that I probably won't be motivated to visit my local polling place this year. I'd like to see Bush lose, but without Kerry winning. Much as I disliked him when he was in office, Clinton is looking better and better to me in retrospect.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: It's a tossup between Mondale in 1984 and Dukakis in 1988. Dukakis is more embarrassing because it was more recent (and because he's Dukakis), but Mondale is more embarrassing because I voted for him twice — in New York's open primary (when I almost went for Gary Hart) as well as the general election.
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson for his writings rather than his performance in office, Grover Cleveland or Calvin Coolidge for taking seriously their oaths to uphold the Constitution and its limits on federal power.
Jeff A. Taylor
Taylor writes Reason Express, a weekly news commentary for Reason Online.
2004 vote: George W. Bush, pathetic bastard that he is — and has made me. The only thing that I am certain that John Kerry would do is raise taxes. Plus I figure the potential confusion surrounding a new national security team may well get people killed. See? Pathetic.
2000 choice: Bush, in Maryland. A gimme.
Most embarrassing vote: Bob Dole in 1996. Knew that was going nowhere.
Favorite president: Ronald Reagan, because he beat back the flawed economic theory that was destroying America and the world.
Volokh teaches and writes, mostly about constitutional law and cyberspace law, at UCLA School of Law. He blogs at volokh.com.
2004 vote: George W. Bush. I almost always vote for the party, not the man, because the administration, its legislative agenda, and its judicial appointments generally reflect the overall shape of the party. I tend to think that Republicans' views on the war against terrorists, economic policy, taxes, and many though not all civil liberties questions — such as self-defense rights, school choice, color blindness, and the freedom of speech (at least as to political and religious speech) — are more sound than the Democrats' views. I certainly find plenty to disagree with the Republicans even on those topics, but if I waited for a party with which I agreed on everything or even almost everything, I'd be waiting a long time.
2000 choice: George W. Bush.
Most embarrassing choice: Can't think of any.
Favorite president: George Washington. As best I can tell, he did a crucial job better than anyone else could have done, and I don't know him well enough to have learned about all his warts.
Managing Editor Walker is author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).
2004 vote: I'm not sure yet, but I'm increasingly inclined to write in Elmer Fudd.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Dukakis. Bush Sr.'s ACLU-baiting campaign was appalling, and I wasn't yet ready to start throwing my vote away on third-party candidates and frivolous write-ins. So I threw it away on a Democrat instead.
Favorite president: It would have to be one of those practically powerless presidents who served under the Articles of Confederation — maybe the anti-federalist Richard Henry Lee, chief of the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1785, who helped launch the American Revolution, tried to ban the importation of slaves, fought to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, and sang the goofiest song in 1776.
Wanniski midwifed supply-side economics, was the first Marxist to work as an editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and is author of The Way the World Works (Gateway).
2004 vote: Bush does not deserve to be re-elected, and Kerry does not deserve to be elected — Bush because of Iraq and Kerry because his economics are dreadful. I'm leaning toward Kerry because I prefer recession to imperialist war, but Bush might tempt me back by firing Cheney, Rumsfeld, and company.
2000 vote: George W. Bush.
Most embarrassing vote: I only voted for Dole in '96 because Jack Kemp was on the ticket. I should have voted Perot in protest.
Favorite president: Abraham Lincoln, because he saved the Union. Otherwise, there would today be no USA.
Contributing Editor Welch is a columnist for Canada's National Post. He blogs at mattwelch.com.
2004 vote: John Kerry, because I think the foreign policy approach of Bush and his administration would make the world, on balance, less safe and less free, while expanding the target on Uncle Sam's back, compared to a presidency run by a flip-floppy Democrat with a Republican Congress. I think Bush needs to be fired.
2000 vote: Ralph Nader, despite covering his campaign.
Most embarrassing vote: Dukakis. I'm hoping not to feel the same way this November.
Favorite president: Lincoln, for freeing slaves, preserving the Union, and serving as a ghostly conscience to haunt the Republicans' "Southern Strategy."
Robert Anton Wilson
Wilson helped found the Guns and Dope Party (gunsanddope.com), which urges everybody to vote for himself. His best-known book is Illuminatus! (Dell), co-written with Robert Shea.
2004 vote: I'm voting for myself because I don't believe anybody else can represent me as well as I can represent myself.
2000 vote: Nobody. I sat in my tent and sulked, like Achilles.
Most embarrassing vote: In 1964 I voted for LBJ because I thought Goldwater would escalate the war in Vietnam.
Favorite president: John Adams, because he didn't trust anybody in politics, including himself.
Contributing Editor Young is a columnist for the Boston Globe.
2004 vote: That's a little private, don't you think? Whichever way I answer, half my friends won't talk to me anymore. (Such are the perils of having a bipartisan social life.) Of course, I could cast a write-in vote for Xena, Warrior Princess…but that would probably piss off my friends who are Buffy fans.
2000 vote: See above.
Most embarrassing vote: Well, talk about private!
Favorite president: George Washington — can't offend anyone with that.