Sunday, October 25, 2020

"These Candidates Left Voters Speechless"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Fourscore and seven beers ago, our fathers brought forth, with incontinence, a new notion, conceived in lethargy and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created clueless.

It has been 20 years since these immortal and perhaps even immoral words were uttered in a stump speech, which left listeners stumped, for one of the great presidential campaigns in U.S. history.

I refer, of course, to the Porky and Zez campaigns of 1992, 1996 and 2000. They are remembered here today as proof that politics not only makes strange bedfellows, but can be practiced by jolly good fellows who don’t have to resort to vituperation and vindictiveness, attorneys at law, to gain a loyal following and, incredibly, get votes.

In 1992, for the sound patriotic reason that I had nothing better to do, I declared my candidacy for vice president of the United States. I wanted to be VP because I wouldn’t have to do any actual work. This made me extremely qualified for the job.

My next move was to find a running mate. So I wrote letters to President George H.W. Bush, the Republican incumbent; Bill Clinton, the Democratic nominee and eventual winner; and Ross Perot, the vertically challenged billionaire who was running as an independent.

Bush stuck with Dan Quayle, who was no Jack Kennedy.

Clinton responded three times, thanking me for my support. I wrote in a column that I wouldn’t support him unless he picked me for vice president, so he picked Al Gore.

Perot never replied, probably because he couldn’t reach the mailbox.

Eventually, I found Alan Abel, the famed media prankster who once hoodwinked The New York Times into running his obituary, a major journalistic coup since he was not, at the time, dead.

Alan ran for president under the name of Porky. I was Zez. Together, we were the Gershwin-inspired ticket of Porky and Zez, proudly carrying the banner of the Cocktail Party.

Since our campaign got a late start, we were upset on Election Day.

We learned our lesson and got an earlier start (10 o’clock in the morning) in 1996.

That was our best year. Porky and I were the opening act for Debate ’96 in Hartford, Connecticut. We also were involved in the New Hampshire primary and had headquarters at the Road Kill Cafe in Bartlett, New Hampshire, where campaign manager Tim Lovelette suggested that we run “in an off-year because you would have a better chance.”

We even had a televised convention at a hotel in my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut. And we actually got votes. Unfortunately, they weren’t enough to propel us to victory.

We hoped the third time would be the charm, so we tossed our hats, not to mention our dirty socks and underwear, into the ring in 2000. That was the year of the “hanging chad” in Florida. It must have been our campaign that threw everything into disarray. After George W. Bush was declared the winner, Porky and I figured we couldn’t do any more damage, so we retired from politics and took up needlepoint.

Alas, Porky really did die in 2018, but our legacy is secure in the important issues for which we fought.

There was, for example, Big Apple health care coverage, so named because it was conceived in a taxi in New York City and operated on the principle that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

We also proposed eliminating Wednesday from the calendar to establish a four-day workweek. And we wanted to put truth serum in the Senate drinking fountain.

There may be no more Porky and Zez campaigns, but this year you can do your part, not only by voting, but by toning down the rhetoric.

And remember the great Cocktail Party rallying cry: Four more beers!

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

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