Dear Spooked-Out Voter:

I'm doing a joint Halloween Night and Election Day newsletter this year because, frankly, the two holidays are virtually indistinguishable. After all, political campaigning is all about pretending you're something you're not -- and then scaring people. Mr. Bush pretends he's competent; Mr. Cheney pretends he's sane -- and then they both run around our cities trying to frighten strangers.

The "Vote Because You're Scared!" drumbeat seemed to work well in the last election. It certainly worked more than the indolent blowhards we elected to the 109th Congress because of it! I fear, however, that such an alarmist mantra has lost its appeal and potency now that voters have had time to realize that the reason we're scared is because of who we voted for in 2000 and 2004.

Since the GOP has no verifiable successes to tout, I'm rather proud of how inventive our latest iteration of the "stick with the incumbent" message has been this year.

In case you haven't picked up on this delicately nuanced sophistry in the relentless stream of earnest blather coming every 30 seconds from you TV, allow me to break it down for you, dears.
The GOP message basically boils down to this: We have created a world so unstable and hostile with our unbroken string of blunders and unnecessary provocations, can you really risk electing someone new who will squander two weeks learning the screen-names for all the sluttiest pages?

I have to chuckle at all of the fear-mongering ads this year. No, it's not the ubiquitous, bland female voice, which would sound like a hammy attempt at "solemn" and "concerned" on the stages of even America's least persnickety-at-casting community theaters. And it isn't how often she earnestly intones, "Can we really afford to risk electing the other guy?" No, what makes me laugh is that congressmen who are throwing $200,000,000 each and every day down that insatiable drain called Iraq, money that could be spent on schools and health, have the temerity to ask us questions that start with "Can we really afford to . . ."

Speaking of that imploding, anarchical money pit, when the lights go out at a press conference to herald progress in Iraq, you know that crazy hellhole is falling apart quicker than Kevin Federline's rap career. As such, President Bush (truly the Carrot Top of silly political props) is left to chant "Presto Chango" and unveil -- are you ready for it? -- a timetable. In a nutshell, this "Timetable for Iraq" is basically arbitrary, un-agreed-upon dates when the impossible will not happen. While a timetable in Iraq is probably about as useful as a reservation in Burger King, it is Mr. Bush's gallantly wistful attempt to make it look as if he has actually accomplished something -- anything -- before the election. As you may have guessed, this timetable is just as likely to be successful after the election as the President's mother's recently penned "Timetable to be Smokin' Hot Again."

Speaking of the ever-charming Bar Bush, this campaign has been unusually ugly, hasn't it? But we can't expect an election to be genteel when a perfunctory congressional roll call nets more sexual predators than Dateline NBC.

And if we're not being frightened out of our wits that some Negro running for Tennessee Senator, Harold Ford Jr., might pick up the phone and call a white harlot, we are peeing our drawers that homosexuals may one day pick out china together in the sacred department stores of New Jersey.

Perhaps the scariest thing about this Halloween evening is that it is the last day of the month, and there is still no October Surprise! I don't mean to be an alarmist here, but isn't it time Karl Rove climbed out from under Jeff Gannon long enough to round up an Islamic coffee klatch that knew a man who met a woman who had a niece who once said something suspicious about a recipe for exploding hair conditioner -- or maybe it was tabouli . . .

Of course, nature, just like Mrs. Bowers, abhors a vacuum. When the Republicans fail to hurt the Democrats, we can always count on the Democrats to pull their weight. So, a week before the election the relentlessly clumsy John Kerry makes a comment that would seem to impugn the same troops that are being supported by magnetic car decals from coast to cast.

Yes, the White House has called on Senator John Kerry to apologize to the men and women serving in Iraq because he may have hurt their feelings.

Even if Mr. Bush were wont to admit error, much less apologize, to the servicemen in Iraq he hurt, he couldn't.

They are dead.

Yes, it had been a sad and scary election year. As a Republican, I'd actually be quite scared if America still went through the arduous, quaint process of counting votes!