The election is over, now it's time for the Saunders election awards.
The Liberal Media Bias Award goes to CNN for calling Florida for Al Gore before it had any business calling the state. Team Gore can claim that the wrong call kept Gore voters from the polls, and Bush League can charge that by calling Florida before all state polls had closed, CNN ... and the other networks that followed CNN's lead ... depressed critical GOP turnout in Florida and elsewhere.
Bush spokeswoman Lindsey Kozberg noted, ""Everyone knew the Gore campaign had to win Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania to win.'' When the networks called Florida and Pennsylvania for Gore, volunteers found that some voters decided not to turn out.
Runner-up for that award goes to MSNBC. The Buchanan-friendly ballot story is a joke. There was an arrow after the Gore/Lieberman tag, folks, so how confusing could the ballot have been?
The Bonehead Citizen Award goes to any voters who decided to stay home because of network projections. Any person who didn't vote on local races and propositions because the national race appeared certain is probably too clueless to make an informed vote.
The Titanic Wannabe Award goes to the campaign for Proposition 38, which would have awarded $4,000 vouchers for children to attend private schools ... except that it received less than 30 percent of the vote. Pitiful.
Venture capitalist Tim Draper dumped some $25 million into this loser of a campaign. Early 38 TV spots seemed to be hit ads against Gov. Gray Davis, instead of ads pushing the measure. But don't take my word for it. Listen to GOP operative Arnie Steinberg: ""The ad with Gray Davis is probably one of the singular most elegant and egregious textbook examples of campaign incompetence.'' Figure the 38 campaign consultants are laughing all the way to the bank, while Draper just spent millions to discredit his pet cause.
The Most Invisible Campaign Award goes to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the rare pol who won re-election on the precept that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
The Least Visible Party Award goes to the GOP. In 1994, Feinstein nearly lost to that empty suit Michael Huffington. She won 47 percent of the vote, he won 45 percent. This year, the GOP ran one of the most substantive candidates in Washington, Tom Campbell, then failed to back him with its checkbook. The result: More Californians voted for the empty suit than Campbell because they barely knew about the Campbell campaign.
The Best Wake Up Call Award goes to Proposition 36, which mandates treatment instead of prison for first-time and second-time drug users. Its passage with 61 percent of the vote should signal to Washington that voters would welcome less punish ment in the drug war.
The Best Laugh Line was made by Senator-elect Hillary Clinton when she promised to work with Republicans in Washington.
Second Best Laugh Line is the contention made by some Democrats that Al Gore could have fared better if he had President Clinton campaigning for him more. Have these people not noticed the Clinton legacy ... impeachment, a crippled candidacy for his vice president and the first Republican House in 40 years?
Do Clintonophiles think Gore would have been helped by more ""Esquire'' covers? Doubt it. Surely Gore's pollsters tested and retested the effect Clinton's presence would have on voters and knew what they were doing when they held Clinton back.
The Too Good to Be True Award goes to all the celebrities ... director Robert Altman, former JFK aide Pierre Salinger and actor Alec Baldwin ... who threatened to leave the country if Bush wins the White House.
Tsk, tsk. Where is their love of diversity?