The Longest Night

Remember The Good Old Days When Nixon Was Running And The Computers Weren't?

By Tom Danehy

ONE MORE REASON to hate computers...
Remember the old days when you used to be able to stay up all night watching the election returns, with the numbers creeping in at a deathly slow pace?

No? Well, I remember 'em. And don't even think about trying to tell me I was the only one who made my own map of the U.S. (complete with Congressional districts) onto which I would stick pins as soon as each race was decided. I'm sure millions of perfectly normal people around the country did the exact same thing. And if they didn't, they should have.

Danehy Ordering a pizza, stocking up on Doritos, then staying up all night watching Chet Huntley and Christie Brinkley. Actually, around 3 a.m., they both started looking like Christie Brinkley.

I've been doing this since the 1968 election, when the results weren't final until the next morning. Having stayed up all night, I pretty much slept through all of my classes that next day and missed the announcement. It was Nixon, I think.

Nowadays, however, the fun is gone. The new computerized way of doing things has speeded up the process to where they can tell you the results on the 10 p.m. news and then show the normal rerun of Coach. That's somehow un-American.

It went like this:

8:46 p.m.: Get out of high-school basketball practice. Get in the car and turn on KTKT-AM, expecting to hear John C. Scott and Emil Franzi dissecting the early returns. Instead I get the nasal whine of Mike Boyd, sounding like a hyper weasel on helium. This is not going to be a good night.

8:52 p.m.: They're already calling the 5th Congressional District race for Jim Kolbe. Darn computers. I wanted to sweat that one out until the wee hours when the Cochise County results come in on the stage.

9:01 p.m.: I call Emil. He tells me someone else had bought the radio time and hired Molly McKasson and Boyd to suck up to their respective party clowns. That's it for the radio.

9:12 p.m.: ABC is reporting that Jessie "The Body" Ventura has been elected governor of Minnesota. I thought the new season of The X-Files didn't start until Sunday.

9:33 p.m.: Great news! New York Sen. Alphonse D'Amato lost his bid for a fourth term. This proves that under no circumstances will New Yorkers let crooked politicians serve more than 18 years in the Senate. If they haven't amassed a fortune by then, they're just not crooked enough.

Actually, it was a shift in the electorate which led to D'Amato's ouster. In the past six years, the dumbest 20 percent of New Yorkers were forced to move to New Jersey, thereby raising the overall IQ of both states.

9:41 p.m.: I switch over to MSNBC, doubling their Nielsen ratings in the process.

9:44 p.m.: CNN is also spreading this nonsense about Jessie Ventura. There hasn't been this much mass hysteria since Orson Welles did War of the Worlds on Halloween.

9:46 p.m.: Lauch Faircloth has lost in North Carolina. This is amazing. The Democrats are kicking butt. Earlier in the day, I heard some GOP guy predicting a 30-seat gain in the House and a filibuster-proof gain to 60 seats in the Senate. I'll never listen to Regis Philbin again.

9:55 p.m.: ABC is calling the California Senate race for Barbara Boxer, another Demo win in a close race.

I hate the way they call races after one percent of the votes have been counted. The only thing I hate worse is the fact that they're always right. Darn computers.

10:01 p.m.: Guy Atchley is still on the air. I'm stunned. For the past couple years, I've been watching Channel 13, the local equivalent of MSNBC. Guy is saying that Jane Dee Hull has been elected governor of California. Then he adds, "And please don't adjust your set. That's really the color of her hair this week."

10:25 p.m.: By an overwhelming margin, cockfighting has been banned in Arizona. That's just one more illegal thing that people will continue to do.

10:46 p.m.: On Nightline, Ted Koppel says surveys show blacks are voting in record numbers. Along those lines, I'll bet the Republicans are going to claim the Democrats have something to do with the NBA season being postponed.

11:14 p.m.: NBC is repeating the Ventura story. This is getting serious. I'm thinking of calling my cousin, Danny DiMarco, who lives in the fictitious Apple Valley, Minnesota. But, since it's November, he's probably already barricaded himself in his basement.

11:59 p.m.: It's unanimous. Jessie "The Body" Ventura is the new governor of Minnesota. Uff-da. His first official act will be to challenge the governor of Wisconsin to a cage grudge match.

12:42 a.m.: It's all over but the shouting. The Democrats have picked up a few seats in the House and broken even in the Senate. This is a huge upset. Somebody says the party in the White House hasn't picked up midterm seats since 1822. I can't wait to hear the GOP spin on that one.

One note: In South Carolina, 132-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond ran a surprisingly vigorous campaign. Surprising considering he's not up for re-election until 2002.

10:07 a.m. (the next morning): Tune in to Rush Limbaugh. This is going to be good. He blames the results on a vicious campaign waged by "the racist Democrats." Okay, we now know where the edge is. Too bad he had to go completely over it for us to learn its whereabouts.

10:32 a.m.: I'm already looking forward to Election Night 2000. It'll be a presidential race, plus the Y2K bug will have screwed up all the computers, so we can go back to the election-result all-nighter. I just hope they can get both Christie Brinkleys back. TW

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