The Congressional District 8 debate was at the Jewish Community Center on a day where there was a lot of wind and flying grime. And that was inside the hall.
Watching Ron Barber and Jesse Kelly debate each other last Wednesday, I kept having "Gilligan's Island" flashbacks. It was like watching the Professor and Ginger, only Ginger was a tall Republican man. And the Green Party candidate, Charlie Manolakis, was so green he won't be ripe for another two election cycles. The correct pronunciation of Manolakis is side-show. After taking votes away from Barber and costing him the race in this tight election, Manolakis will join the Candidates of Comedy Tour.
The moderator asserted that cheering was prohibited, as was sighing, eye rolling, and pitchfork shaking. The same rules were enforced on my recent honeymoon and it made for a better experience for everyone present.
The debate featured many moments of remarkable courage. When Kelly asked the Barber of Civility if he was voting for President Obama, the Democrat defiantly said, "Who?"
Barber was at disadvantage because he can't utter nonsense with a straight face the way Kelly can. Kelly is a marvel, a Reagan-lite character straight out of Sinclair Lewis' imagination. The blue-collar crowd loved his trickle-down populism where up is down and down is up and government is bad and God blesses America and billionaires.
Here's what I wrote down as some of Kelly's finest moments, including this moving shoutout:
• "I love my wife. She chose me freely. Freedom of choice is what makes our marriage great. Not some government bureaucrat telling her whom she should love and cuddle up with and whether we can watch Glenn Beck. I love you baby."
• "Government is not a job creator. Except when it comes to my dad's construction company because that's where many of our jobs came from: Uncle Sam, the not-a-job-creator guy! Before you go pointing fingers I want you to know we did not enjoy taking that stimulus money and rolling around in it and laughing and throwing dollar bills at each other."
• "What is with Barack Obama's Death Panels wanting to let gays marry? What is this country coming to - a florist's shop? Every time I think of gay dudes getting married I freak out. Did you know the gays are acquiring weapons-grade plutonium? I heard it on talk radio."
• "You sat here correcting me all night long like the boring professor from 'Gilligan's Island.' And you know what, Mr. Barber? I loved that show. That's why I will vote to extend the Bush tax breaks for all of the Americans just like Thurston Howell III, Americans who are rich and trapped on islands. People who say the Howells should pay their fair share are anti-American socialists, or worse, Howell haters. Why should I help lazy poor people who don't realize they could become millionaires one day if only they worked hard?"
• "People ask me how I will protect Social Security. First, I will let Americans opt out and invest their retirement funds in Enron stock. Second, I will grow the economy by planting millions of oil trees that will generate trillions of dollars in tax revenues. Crisis solved. And another thing, I never said I wanted to tie Social Security to the railroad tracks and run over it in a monster truck. I love Social Security, right grandpa? You old parasites can stay on the dole as long as I'm in Congress."
• "I will not ask any of you to make any sacrifices. It's the government that needs to make sacrifices. That's why I'm using stimulus bucks to build a cool sacrificial altar in my dad's construction yard. Who wants to hold Uncle Sam down? How about I raffle that one off for a fundraiser?"
• "Choose freedom. Freedom from thinking about issues until our heads hurt, freedom from having to ask questions and reading boring reports. I like talking about freedom. And when I'm your congressman I'll do that."
"Where are we? Russia? Europe? No, this is the greatest place on earth. We're at the JCC."
Email Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons: email@example.com