Here’s where to find great election tips

A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that the average American voter no longer turns to the editorial page of the daily newspaper for election guidance.

Well, duh…

Remember, it was the Great American Newspaper that convinced many readers that Dewey could easily beat Truman in the 1948 presidential election. One nationally respected daily newspaper even went so far as to announce that Dewey had soundly defeated Truman in the race.

What, you don’t remember President Dewey?

Surprise, surprise…

Then there were all the newspapers that endorsed Richard Nixon as the presidential candidate who could “bring us together” again.

Yeah, that worked out just great.

And, of course, there was President Bush. And President Bush. I’m not even going to touch that little bundle of national nerve endings. People just get all, like, agitated.

So is it any wonder that voters are slowly turning away from their daily newspaper and network news to look for political guidance elsewhere?

According to the Pew study, people are scouring the Internet, cable news sources and, er, “Saturday Night Live,” in a never-ending search for election expertise.

Hey, I always check out two or three late-night comedy shows before voting, but I also use a few tried-and-true information sources that have never failed me when it comes to making the right decisions on election night.

Normally, I keep these sources pretty close to the vest, but in these troubled times with another big election on the horizon, I’m willing to share.

The next time you need reliable advice about political candidates, just ask:

* Barber Joe. He has a barbershop on Main Street in downtown Vacaville. He knows a lot of stuff. If you play your cards right, he may share some of his knowledge with you. If not, you’ll still get a haircut. There’s supposed to be a barber almost as knowledgeable as Joe in Plumsteadville, Pa., but you couldn’t prove it by me.

* Any golfer (particularly if they’re wearing really goofy-looking shoes). These guys have their thumbs on the pulse of America. Many of them are, in fact, politicians. You don’t necessarily have to follow any of their recommendations, but at least you’ll have a good idea of just how truly weird things can get in an election year.

*┬áThe guy on the third bar stool from your left in any tavern in America. You’ll know this guy is the real deal because he’ll either be a former Navy SEAL, Green Beret or Vietnam-era sniper. And he’ll tell you so, again and again and again. Then, if you promise to keep it to yourself, he may also give you some election tips and tell you where Jimmy Hoffa’s buried. Really.


* The Weekly World News. Sure, it looks like just another supermarket tabloid, but it was the only newspaper that gave you the lowdown on the space aliens who conferred with both Bill Clinton and George Bush. Did the New York Times have that story? I don’t think so.

See you at the polls, amigos.

Originally published February 1, 2004

Yeah, like this is going to sell a bunch of papers

The National Enquirer, apparently striving for mainstream reader acceptance after waning popularity in the nation’s supermarket check-out lines, is reaching out to a broader market with a more conservative approach to the news.

According to a recent issue of Editor & Publisher magazine, the Enquirer and its sister publication, the Star, are in the midst of a $50 million makeover to give the weekly tabloids more credibility with the American public.

They’ve even gone so far as to emblazon their delivery trucks with huge panels proclaiming “NO ELVIS. NO ALIENS. NO UFOS” above a tastefully understated Enquirer logo.

I have only one question:

Have these guys jettisoned their few remaining scraps of sanity?

Think about it – here’s an established publication that’s made its reputation with screaming headlines and in-depth investigations into such mysteries as Elvis Presley’s final, desperate battle with nail fungus. Now the Enquirer has abruptly turned around and is telling its hardcore readers that it’s going to be dumping all the good stuff.

What’s left – exciting excerpts from the Congressional Record? Ann Landers? The annual rainfall in Wenatchee?

If that old banner headline doesn’t read something like “Naked Fergie in Drunken Gun Battle with Cocaine Kingpins,” who’s going to bother with the new Enquirer?

Not I.

When I purchase a supermarket tabloid, I’m looking for the real news that the New York Times and San Francisco Examiner are afraid to print.

If the Enquirer starts dishing out bland helpings of journalistic oatmeal, those of us who want the truth about Elvis, space aliens and UFOs are simply going to look elsewhere – and it won’t be a real long trip, amigos.

Fortunately for discriminating readers everywhere, the Weekly World News is still out there walking point in a world populated by extraterrestrials, werewolves and Bigfoot.

The Enquirer didn’t warn America when the potentially ravenous Bat Child escaped from captivity. No, only the Weekly World News was willing to step out on the edge and let us know about the pointy-earred menace that was roaming our streets.

Just last week, the News scored a series of technical knockouts with thoroughly researched stories that not only predicted the return of Jesus Christ this fall, but advised readers what to say if they bump into him (“If you are lucky enough to meet Jesus in person, you want to make the best impression possible…”).

Other timely advice revealed how readers could direct their out-of-body travels to a specific location and how to use a startling new breed of dog as a household mop (“They’re great on tile and linoleum floors…”).

Also mentioned was the case of the killer trombone slide, tales of spontaneous human combustion and the Mexican border patrol’s new drug-sniffing iguanas.

Drug-sniffing iguanas?

With competition like that, I’d give the new National Enquirer about six more months before the editors there are back pounding the pavement in search of the space aliens who abducted Elvis..

Originally published July 16, 2000