When Colin returned to the table, drinks in hand, he found his brother fixated on the nearby television screen. Election Day was winding down. The polls had closed on the east coast, and the newscasters were beginning to call states for the candidates.|
"Who's ahead?" Colin asked, handing Quinn a mug of beer.
"Too soon to tell," Quinn said, as Connecticut was called for the Democrat John Kerry. "Not that it matters. Just our luck, an infinite amount of universes and we land on one where two nobodies are facing off."
"Then why are you so interested in it?" Colin asked, taking his seat across from Quinn so he didn't need to see the TV screen.
"Morbid curiosity I guess. The more I learn about these two, the less I understand how they've gotten as far as they have," Quinn said. "Take this President Bush. Apparently he's the son of George Herbert Walker Bush, an unpopular one term president from back home."
"Maybe he was more popular here."
"Not really. The key difference as far as I can see is that President Clinton had an affair while in office. This led to a firestorm of controversy that almost ended in Clinton being removed from office. By the time the 2000 election came around, everyone was so sick of Clinton that they were willing to vote in anyone else. It was kind of like after World War I where the challenger Warren Harding ran a campaign based on a return to normalcy."
"Wasn't Harding a failure?" Colin asked.
"Worst president the union ever had. He mercifully died in office, though some say he was poisoned," Quinn said. ”This Bush character hasn't been too much better. While he's been President, terrorists attacked us on our soil, a massive surplus has been turned into a half trillion dollar deficit, and he launched a pre-emptive strike against Iraq because he thought they had nuclear weapons. They didn’t."
"So this Kerry fellow's going to run away with this election."
"You'd think, but the election is running 50/50. From what I've been able to glean on him, he's barely any better. He simultaneously supports and opposes the war and he's so dreadfully uninspiring that the Democrats were almost ready to draft Clinton's wife in his stead."
As CNN called South Carolina for Bush, Maggie and Rembrandt strolled over to the table. "How was the game?" Colin asked.
"Cryin' Man Slim remains the shark of this pool," Remmy smirked.
Maggie slapped him in the arm. "Please. I scratched on the 8-ball while half his rack was still on the table."
"Psychological intimidation," Rembrandt said, dropping into a seat beside Quinn. "You still watching this?"
Quinn answered with a swig from his beer. The footage switched to polls in Ohio where fighting had broken out. "Violence erupted in Cincinnati where polling monitors challenged registrations," the reporter said.
Rembrandt shook his head. "You see that? It's Jim Crow all over again."
"They're just trying to make sure there's no fraud," Colin said.
"That's what they said back in the fifties too," Rembrandt said.
"What do you expect from them?" Quinn said. "This is the same dimension that elected Arnold Schwarzenegger governor. The same dimension that rejected President McCain. We should be glad they can operate their thumbs."
"Geez, Quinn, did you order an extra bitter?" Maggie asked, pointing to his beer.
"Doesn't this bother you?" he asked. "On one side, there's a commander in chief who ducked his own service, lied about it, and then sent the military into battle under false pretenses. The other candidate, unwilling to offend, ends up offending everyone equally by refusing to take a hard stand on anything. Am I to believe this is the best America can do? There is no one else in this country more qualified than these two clowns?"
"Cheer up, Quinn," Rembrandt said. "It ain't our world."
"Thank God, Remmy. Thank God."