As we approach the 1992 presidential campaign, the major concern of American voters can be summarized in one simple word, and that word is: "exploding urinal."

At least the voters should be concerned about this issue, judging from a terrifying article sent in by alert reader Steve Kunert. The article, written by Kevin Keich for the student newspaper of the University of Texas at El Paso, begins as follows:

"A urinal at the new UT El Paso geology building exploded Thursday, causing serious damage to a worker's genital area."

The victim, who is recovering, is quoted as giving the following account of the accident: "I don't know what the hell happened. I flushed the urinal, and it exploded."

Next to the article is a photo of the urinal, which has a large jagged hole in the middle. This is a scary photo. The urinal almost seems to be grinning. It could be the star of a low-budget horror movie called "Laughing Demon Urinal From Hell," stalking victim after victim in a college fraternity house:

First student: Where's Thad?

Second student: He just went in to take a . . .

Noise from off-camera: BOOM!

Thad's voice: Aieeee!

Eerie porcelain voice: Hahahahaha.

Students: It's the Laughing Demon Urinal!

According to the article, the authorities aren't sure what caused the explosion. Until we get some answers, I'm recommending that guys in public restrooms take the sensible precaution of shouting "Look out!!" and diving to the floor while covering their private sectors whenever they flush. Trust me: The other guys will understand.

Ultimately, however, the federal government will probably have to step in and take action. As a formally declared candidate for president, I want to state that, if I am elected, urinal safety will be my No. 1 priority (rim shot).

It deeply saddens me that none of the other declared candidates has had the courage to speak out on this issue. Perhaps this is because there are no other declared candidates, unless you count a person named "Paul E. Tsongas" who has been going around claiming -- you will laugh when I tell you this -- that he used to be a U.S. senator. Ask yourself: Have you ever heard of him? Do you think the U.S. Senate would admit a member who is clearly misspelling his own last name?

So we are forced to conclude that I'm the front-runner, especially after the reception I got when I made my campaign trip to Iowa back in April. I am not making this trip up. While in Iowa, I demonstrated my concern for agriculture by observing some roadside pigs out the car window and making concerned remarks, such as: "Look! Pigs!" And: "How come that pig is so hairy?"

"Because it's a dog," replied Ted. Ted is my Iowa campaign manager. His full name is Ted Habte-Gabr. He's Ethiopian. I am still not making this up. I selected Ted as my campaign manager because (1) he met me at the airport, and (2) I think he can "put me over the top" by attracting the crucial Iowa Ethiopian vote.

Ted lined up my main campaign appearance, which was at his school, the University of Iowa, which is in Iowa City (motto: "It's Not Near Anything"). The students were clearly impressed with my speech, as was evidenced by the thoughtful questions they asked afterward, such as:

*"I thought you would be taller."

*"How come you always write about boogers?"

I definitely felt a groundswell of support for my candidacy. This occurred at a bar called Fitzpatrick's, where they brew their own beer. If you drank several of these beers, I bet you'd feel the ground swell in support of your candidacy, too.


Special message concerning "the character issue": I was accompanied to Iowa by -- this is still true -- a reporter from USA Today (motto: "If You Didn't Read It In USA Today, It Probably Contained More Than 50 Words"). He wrote a story stating that, while at Fitzpatrick's, I consumed four beers and promised to appoint every student in the bar to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is yet another example of the media's frenzied desire to dig up sensationalized "dirt." I want to set the record straight by presenting some facts that were "conveniently" left out of the USA Today story:

1. The USA Today reporter had at least three vodka-and-cranberry juices.

2. The Supreme Court might benefit greatly by the addition of several hundred college students.

Of course, I expect this kind of tough scrutiny. We live in an age when any political figure can expect to have his or her "dirty laundry" aired in public. And I admit that I have a few "skeletons in my closet" that might appear to indicate bad judgment if taken out of context, such as the arrest for discharging highway flares inside a diner.

But that is "water over the dam." The point is that my campaign is surging proudly ahead with no pending indictments that I know of. Now is the time to get on the bandwagon. We need a designated driver. *

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