Once upon a time (actually it was in 2000, but I need to make this crap sound like a kiddy’s fairy tale so I don’t lose my public funding) there was an enchanted little county called Palm Beach. It was a beautiful place with perfect sandy beaches, clean air, and complicated tax laws that made it an attractive place for the ultra-rich to buy real estate.

Everyone who lived there hated the dump. Because it was run by the evil and bombastic Duke Jeb. Duke Jeb was the twisted bastard son of King George I, who ran the kingdom so pathetically that he was voted out of power by pissed off townspeople. But after eight years of dealing with the current king who liked to party with movie stars and place DNA samples on the dresses of female interns, Duke Jeb felt the time was right to sell his simpleton brother to the good people of the kingdom as George II. George the Simpleton was a lame speechmaker and had to obscure his past history of cocaine abuse and general incompetence while in public service, but after a massive publicity campaign and endorsements by Bob Hope and Arnold Swartzeneggar, he was neck-and-neck in the voting with Prince Al the Colorless, with Sir Ralph the Hopeless lagging fruitlessly behind.

George the Simpleton and Duke Jeb were the sons of George I.

“It’s an outrage,” smirked George the Simpleton (who actually smirked when he said anything.) I’ve spent millions of pieces of gold so that I can carry on our father’s legacy of incompetence and economic disaster, only to find myself running neck-and-neck with a guy who sleeps in a full suit and tie and claims to have invented the Internet while writing two books on the environment and banning the latest album by Metallica! What is to be done?”

“It’s not a problem,” hissed the evil Duke Jeb. “Since the election was so close here in Palm Beach County, we will simply have a run-off between you and the monotonous Prince Al. And since I am the guy calling the shots in this territory, I will schedule the election on Christmas Day, when everyone is too busy with merriment and holiday activities to notice as we stuff the ballot box in your favor. The only trick now is to find someone to be our pollster at the election place who is so idiotic that he won’t discover our plan. Who can we find who is that stupid?”

At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job as the lead in a Thanksgiving-themed porno film. Hired because of his unusual ability to become aroused at the sight of a turkey’s anal cavity, the producers became frustrated at the need to use an ultra-zoom lens to try and capture Jonny’s microscopic penis on camera. Given his walking papers, Jonny sighed sadly and opened Drama-Logue to try and find a new gig. His eyes lit up when he spotted the ad reading “Earn good money while you practice your craft! Election Pollster wanted at Palm Beach County. Nudity required.”

Duke Jeb’s mood grew sour as the Christmas Day election grew near. Many pollsters applied for the job, but all of them boasted a 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd grade education, with far too much cranial development to be the mindless puppet that he was looking for. The seedy Machiavellian was ready to give up his complex plan and simply stage a military coup, when the happy figure of Jonny M. came bounding into his well-appointed office. One look at Jonny’s sloping forehead, eyebrow ridges and mismatched Goranimal ensemble made Duke Jeb realize that he had found his man.

Duke Jeb knew that he had found his man.

“It’s a very uncomplicated job, my boy” said Jeb as he put his greasy arm around Jonny’s shoulder. We wanted a fair election, plain and simple. Your job is to give people their ballots and make sure that there’s no monkey business at the polls.”

“But isn’t Christmas Day an unusual time for an election?” asked the muse, mindful that this stupid story had only the loosest connection to the holiday so he was trying to make whatever association he could.

“Uh...yes,” responded Duke Jeb as sweat dripped down his forehead, “but since Christmas is the one day of the year that brings out the most noble parts of people’s spirits, we’re certain that no one will try any fraudulent activities that day.”

“Works for me,” beamed Jonny naively. “And since the election falls on Christmas Day, maybe I can give out candy canes and lead the voters in spirited renditions of such holiday favorites as Silent Night, The Dradle Song and I’ll Be Home For Kwansa as well?”

“Yeah, whatever” smirked Jeb (who shared many of his brother’s facial mannerisms), handing Jonny a form. “Just make sure that the voters all get a ballot like this.”

Jonny’s eyes widened in horror as he beheld the run-off ballot. It was a mishmash of confusing cross-references and vagaries that made it seem like no matter what candidate you voted for, the vote went to a single man: George the Simpleton.

Jonny eyes widened in horror at the complex ballot.

“Surely this isn’t the ballot people will be using when they vote?” asked the pompous muse. “A democratic election is the most sacred thing that a free society can have, yet this ballot seems like it was composed by an autarchic dictatorship. What gives?”

“It’s not your job to ask questions!” snapped Duke Jeb, who wondered how the hell an idiot like Jonny got off with using words like ‘autarchic.’ “If you want the buck seventy five an hour and free donuts that the job pays, you’ll do as I say!”

The muse didn’t sleep a wink that Christmas Eve, and even a visit from Santa Claus (who brutally gang-raped Jonny and left him for dead, in a story that will be related in a future Jonny Card) could not ease the noble muse’s mind. The election was being fixed in the favor of George the Simpleton, and if the muse didn’t do something about it, he was going to be subjected to four years of the guy’s obnoxious smirk and mind-numbing ignorance of world affairs. Jonny knew he had to take action.

It was always Jonny’s custom to wake up early on Christmas day so that he could drink egg nog and send hate mail to the bastards who didn’t send him Christmas Cards after he had sent them one of these stupid things that he had slaved for hours on; but with the election taking place, Jonny got up even earlier than usual. Jonny awoke before the sun was up to walk the streets, taking in the dazzling lights, the joyous music and the good will that we show to each other in very special ways at this joyous time of year. The muse’s heart soared at being part of this glorious race of people, and was happy in the knowledge that every man and woman that he passed was his brother or sister in the human family. He flashed every man, woman and child he passed on the street his crooked yellow smile, and knew that the radiant gaze they returned before they ran screaming from his hideous appearance indicated a autonomous spirit who deserved to have their God-given freedom protected.

But when he turned the corner to take his job the polling place, his heart sank. Nazi Stormtroopers that were hired in from the Pasadena Police Department were already there to intimidate voters, and the muse was shocked to see an African American man being given a humiliating sobriety test by a hideously deformed officer named Wiley before he was even allowed to enter the polling place.

“What is the meaning of this?” demanded an outraged Jonny to Wiley as the would-be voter was ordered to try and walk a straight line with his trousers at his ankles and a plunger shoved squarely up his rectum before he was allowed to enter the polling place. “Why are you treating these people in this barbaric manner just for trying to exercise they cherished right to vote on this holiest of holy days?”

Jonny was shocked at Wiley’s actions.

“This guy was trying to vote with his head up his ass,” sneered the hideous Wiley (which is a really funny line to anybody who knows anything about my sobriety test by some bastard cops.) “I’ve been ordered to test anybody who looks suspicious and throw them in the clink if they make any trouble. Do you want to join them? Now leave me alone so I can order this guy to walk into a bush.”

“Shame on you!” roared Jonny self-righteously. “A free election is for everyone, not just for the people who you decide are fit to vote. And on this day of days, we must strive to reach deep within ourselves and find our noblest spirit, that which will allow us to love our adversaries and rise above our baser instinct.”

This is usually the part in the card where the antagonist sees the light, but since Wiley was an asshole, he just clubbed Jonny over the head and went back to hazing the poor voter. Jonny miserably picked himself up and walked into the polling place with his armful of empty ballots to begin his task. Despite his aching noggin from Wiley’s assault, he greeted each voter with a smile and a cheerful “Merry Christmas,” and the voting went smoothly and happily for all.

At five o’clock, Duke Jeb showed up at the polls in an armored truck to take the ballots back to his dank castle to be tabulated and have his brother crowned as George II. The local despot flashed his usual obnoxious smirk as he entered the building, happy in the knowledge that the ballots he designed made it impossible for someone to cast his vote for anybody but George the Simpleton.

“I’m here to take the ballots,” sneered Duke Jeb. “Make it snappy; we have to count all my brother’s votes and throw out the ones for Prince Al because the ballot was designed so that if you voted for him, you also voted for the candidates from the Libertarian Party, the Green Party and the Playboy Mansion Party, thus nullifying your vote.”

“Here you go,” said Jonny, handing the evil Duke the ballots.

Jeb’s eyes went white with rage as he beheld the forms in his hands. Instead of the ultra-complicated ballots that he had designed, Jonny had stopped by Kinko’s on the way to the polls and replaced them with simple sheets of paper that had the candidates names listed alphabetically and a box to check for who you wanted. Duke Jeb’s anger neared the boiling point as he beheld the first twenty or thirty ballots, all of which had the box next to Prince Al the Colorless.

“How dare you!” sputtered the narcissistic despot. “Why I...”

“How dare you!” countered Jonny smugly. “The right to cast a vote is among the most sacred in a free society, and to try and compromise that process is a sin under any circumstances. But on this day of days, when we celebrate the unity of the human spirit and recognize the value of each individual as someone who touches our lives in a very special way; to employ subterfuge and deceit today is a crime against the forces of nature itself! Christmas Day is a time of love and joy and honesty, and to engage in any type of duplicity on this most special of holidays makes a sham of our cherished celebration!”

Duke Jeb’s eyes narrowed into hateful slits as he motioned his Pasadena Policemen to surround Jonny, and the muse’s heart sank to think that this was the end...

The people of the Kingdom waited breathlessly by their televisions to watch the results of the election. As each county turned in it’s results, the contest looked like a tennis match; first in Prince Al’s favor, next in George the Simpleton’s. All three networks gave Duke Jeb’s principality to Prince Al at first, but as the ballots came in, it became too close to call and finally it all came down to the county of Palm Beach. Finally, the hand counting of Jonny’s home-made ballots were complete, and Duke Jeb and his brother George the Simpleton strode out from his stately balcony to announce the winner.

“Before I say who won” intoned Duke Jeb, “let me say that I learned a great lesson on this Christmas Day. I was prepared to do anything in my power to get my brother elected by any means. But after pondering the true meaning of this most special of holidays, I concluded that what is most important is not the holding of individual glory, but of making sure that each citizen’s rights are safeguarded and protected all of the days of the year.”

“So me no want be big guy,” announced George the Simpleton.

“What my brother is trying to say,” explained Duke Jeb, “is that just because we were born into a family that has deeply rooted political connections and billions of dollars to buy political connections, our inbred ambition is not enough to qualify us to run the country. And as we stand before you on this glorious Christmas morning, we realize that the true meaning of this day is to give the best of yourself to your fellow man, and not try to force upon them ideas and priorities that they may not share with you. So we are withdrawing from the race, and urging you to vote for the only person with the compassion and depth to run the country ... Barbra Streisand!”

So all was happiness in the kingdom. Barbra Streisand proved an able and compassionate ruler for two weeks, until her egotism and inexperience drove the country into political and economic chaos. George the Simpleton returned to his true love, snorting cocaine by the barrel. Duke Jeb continued to rule Palm Beach County with an iron fist, until an investigation launched by Amnesty International saw him tossed in prison for election fraud. Prince Al the Colorless bored himself to death. Officer Wiley was shot in the head by a psychotic motorist who was pushed over the edge by Wiley’s abuse when he pulled him over for a minor traffic violation. But despite these scandals, everyone in the kingdom realized that they could still cherish each other’s spirit of humanity in the face of economic realties, and keep the Spirit of Christmas alive 365 days a year.

But happiest of all was Jonny M. As he basqued in the glory of his new friends’ hard fought freedoms, he took a final look into the Christmas sky, and headed towards the Pasadena Police Department, where he was serving a two million dollar lawsuit for gross intimidation.

And happy holidays to you, my friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas or Hannukah or just looking forward to getting truly hammered on New Years Eve, take a moment to ponder the freedom that you enjoy because of the hard work of those that came before you, and know that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.

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