I’m Running for Vice-President of the United States

“Dan Quayle might go down in history as one of the greatest Vice-Presidents of all time.”

I said that.

“I’m sure after Dan Quayle dies people will realize what a great President he would’ve been.”

I said that also.

I was on a date with a girl with frizzy, blonde hair, glasses, who smoked and gave me a cigarette. I had smoked maybe 5 cigarettes in my life at that point. I smoked the cigarette the girl gave me.

She was from Indiana. Loved Dan Quayle.

I don’t know one way or the other from Dan Quayle. What does it even mean to be a “great Vice-President”. Let alone “Dan Quayle”.

But I said it because I wanted her to kiss me. It was 1991.

At the footsteps to her house I did one of those awkward move-my-face-in-closer-for-the-kiss things. She was still smoking her cigarette. I could smell stale cigarette breath everywhere.  “I don’t think so,” she said. She was honest. “I’m not attracted to you.”


Dan Quayle has been a newspaper publisher, a senator, a Vice-President, and has been the successful vice-chairman of Cerberus Capital. He might very well have been the best Vice-President ever. I have no idea. I was a graduate student about to get thrown out of school.

He certainly was better than Aaron Burr, who  almost caused a revolution shortly after he killed Alexander Hamilton. Or Hannibal Hamlin, who in addition to his responsibilities as Vice-President under Lincoln, decided to lead the Union Army and almost caused us to lose the war. Or Spiro Agnew, who had to quit under Nixon and plead Nolo Contendre under various charges (which led ultimately to Gerald Ford being President who became famous for proving the government can’t stop inflation).

All I wanted was a kiss. I would’ve made any argument under the sun about Dan Quayle.

(was it too much to ask for?)

I love the idea of the Vice-Presidency. You’re the second most important person in the world. But you don’t have to do anything.

Sure, you can pretend to do stuff. But that’s just for show. No Vice-President has ever really done anything important while he was Vice-President. Everything is for show. And Al Gore is now divorced while Bill Clinton is still happily married. We live in a giant hall of mirrors.

[Just this second: I turn away from the computer and ask my daughters who the current VP is. Josie ignores me. Then she says, “Obama?” Mollie laughs and says, “who even CARES!?” ]

I once wrote a novel  (never published) about the Vice-Presidency. The hero is about to quit politics out of disgust and then is reluctantly picked to be Vice-President at his convention. The election is a shoo-in. It’s a popular incumbent President. So now our reluctant hero is Vice-President of the United States.

At one of the inaugural balls he simply walks out and takes a bus to Pittsburgh. Everyone is looking for him. He then drives, rides a bus, hitchhikes around the country. He’s not trying to hide. He’s occasionally recognized as the Vice-President and then moves on after an adventure or two. All the time, having sex with as many prostitutes, lovers, fans, whatever as possible. Getting into an occasional adventure along the way while he sees the real America.  Sort of like a Vice-Presidential version of the 1970s TV show “The Incredible Hulk”.

Meanwhile, the President wants him found because he’s proving to be an embarrassment. And there’s even some talk of killing him because his antics are getting him too popular and he’s saying too much against the current administration.

Finally, of course, all hell breaks loose when the President is assassinated and our hero becomes the new President. Now he has to reconcile the lifestyle he enjoys with becoming the most powerful man on the planet. And since he hates the Speaker of the House (the next in line) he has to take control and do stuff. Which he does. To everyone’s shock and dismay.

There’s something about the Vice-Presidency – the faint hint of infinite power. Infinite freedom. A certain immortality, if not through body, then through history (the fact that we still even know who Hannibal Hamlin is proof enough that Vice-Presidents will live forever in some universal wiki-chip that gets implanted into the brain. )

My sister thought I was trying to project my feelings about my father onto this character. That I was always secretly writing about dad in everything I wrote. I don’t know. I gave up on it and started another project. RULE #1: Never talk about your work when you are halfway through. No good.

“Al Gore might go down in history as one of the greatest Vice-Presidents ever,” I said to the girl sitting across from me, 18 years after the Dan Quayle girl. She  personally knew Al Gore. When her father died Al Gore called her and told her how sorry he was. She worked on Al Gore’s Presidential campaign. So I said whatever I could.

That one didn’t work out either.  We always drank too much and then things always got ugly like in a crying, lying, neighbors upset, kind of ugly.

(are tongues involved here? I can't tell).

Why couldn’t I have been honest just once.  I feel like I only started being honest in my life here in this blog last November. Almost one year ago exactly. What if 20 years ago I had said just once, “you know what, Calvin Coolidge was the greatest Vice-President in history. On principle, he did absolutely nothing. He always ate by himself in the Senate cafeteria and faced the wall so he wouldn’t have to look at anyone.”

One time he was at a dinner party and one of the socialites at the party told him she made a bet that he would say more than three words at the party. He replied, ‘you lose.’ He was pretty confident in himself to say something like that.

What if in the first forty years of my life I had just been myself? I was always afraid of showing people the real me. I had to pretend to hold beliefs I didn’t care about (astrology? Dan Quayle? Nicaragua? Dogs? Kaballah?)  in order to get people to like me. Or I had to have money, or be great at chess, or give the other kids candy every day, or have a TV show, or do something that made me special because it wasn’t enough to just be me.

Maybe a girl with frizzy blonde hair and glasses would’ve kissed me. Or maybe I would not have wanted her to. Just once maybe I would’ve gone home satisfied with just being by myself. Being alone.

Eating dinner. Looking at the wall.



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Anecdote: My favorite VP candidate was Jim Boren in 1980. His brother was David Boren, who was Senator from Oklahoma. Jim was specifically running to be the VP candidate under Ted Kennedy if Kennedy won the nomination in 1980 (Carter won it). Kennedy didn’t even know who Boren was. Boren’s entire premise was that bureaucracy was evil and he wanted to be as bureaucratic as possible to demonstrate it. His campaign slogan: “When in Doubt, Mumble”.

See Also: Politics is a scam

And also, July 4 is a scam

OR: My Dating Techniques in 1996





  • Your post about Vice Presidents and kisses make me want to mention that I always found Al and Tipper Gore’s daughters really hot.

  • Gotta love these pinheads who post blogs and then stay Up past their bedtimes reading the comments!

    • Discovery,
      “pinheads”  – Are you serious using that word, or are you being funny in a sarcastic way?

      • Not serious about much- but being funny in a sarcastic way fits best-

  • Anonymous

    Great minds think alike:

    I’d like to announce my candidacy
    I’d appreciate it if you’d vote for me.
    I want to be Vice President.
    Vote for me. 

    If I was Vice President you know what I’d do?
    Pretty much anything I wanted to.
    Vote for me. Vote for me. 

    I’d have a first class seat on Air Force One.
    An awesome pad in Washington…D.C. (If you vote for me)
    Play golf all day with heads of state
    If they brought beer wouldn’t that be great? I can’t wait!
    Vote for me. Vote for me.
    — Joe Walsh


    • Anonymous

      I think the VP lives in MD not DC. At the Naval Observatory if memory serves. Still a sweet gig if you think about it though.

      Really, what does he do?

    • Healthport

      If great minds think alike is it true that small minds think alike also???? Just wondering if two people in conversation have an ahaa moment when sharing a dumb idea at the same time….. and they state to each other, “Wow, dumb minds think alike”

  • J.R.

    James I’m trying to make my escape from corporate america, I was thinking I could learn web development in my spare time and start building websites to generate a second stream of income. Is this feasible given the amount of competition that exists in that field now?

  • Avis Rental Cars made it a national slogan. “We’re #2”. Their ad campaign was so effective that they never did get to be #1. Sort of like Al Gore, but without the weight fluctuation.

    For some reason #1 carries cache. I don’t get it, either, but some people must just like being in the cross-hairs

    Mel Brooks used to say “It’s good to be King”, but I agree with the hypothesis that #2 is the place to be. Who cares if no one remembers what movie came in second to Gone with the Wind? Although VP’s may be forgettable, Dan Quayle will always be a bigger footnote than Denny Hastert and barely ever had to break a sweat.

    When you’re #2 you can also guarantee that no one is going to try to make you look foolish by asking “Who is the Prime Minister of Uzhbekistan?” Everyone knows that it doesn’t matter whether you know or not, so you get an eternal pass on the “Gotcha Game”, too.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t believe you just did 1200 words on Vice Presidents and Cheney didn’t merit a single mention!  that’s one evil c-sucker who actually did do a lot as VP, essentially calling shots like he was the secret president

    • Crusader79

      As one of the crappiest of people Cheney is best not thought or written about.

    • And Cheney was remembered as “the evil one”. Meanwhile if you just don’t do anything, then as James said, you get paid to do nothing

  • Julian

    Your VP novel sounds fun. Reminds me of:

  • quieteinstein

    Trust me, being yourself will make people think you are crazy, especially your family.
    I enjoy it…being thought of as crazy and a loner.  I have mad skills that only a few people know about.  I eat alone.  I have always felt like I live on a planet surrounded by idiots.  People make me crazy so i retreat into my quiet little world.  The world most only dream about living in.  I own that world.

  • James, thought you may find this interesting about the power of thinking and yoga. From Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”. Please pass along to Claudia, I hope she is doing well:

    A seeker after Truth sought out a yoga master and begged him to help him achieve the enlightenment of perfect union with his true self. The Master told him to go into a room and meditate on God for as long as he could. After just two hours the seeker emerged distraught, saying that he could not concentrate, since his mind kept thinking about his much beloved bull he left at home. The Master then told him to return to the room and meditate on his bull. This time the would-be yogi entered the room and after two days had still not emerged. Finally the Master called for him to come out. From within the seeker replied, “I cannot; my horns are too wide to fit through the door.” The seeker had reached such a state of concentration that he had lost all sense of separation from his object of concentration.

  • You were the self you needed to be.  Maybe in looking back you think you could have been different, but that is only a fantasy. 

    People are the sum of all their experiences.  What I sometime call “baggage” can drive us to change and grow. (hopefully in a good way, but that’s not always the case)

    Without your past, you’d have fewer stories. 

  • Change is happening faster than ever before.  That rate of change continues to accelerate.  There are many reasons for this phenomenon.  One major explanation: the internet.  It has provided a forum where the average person can challenge the conventional wisdom.  The internet is the only place for people to fine-tune their unusual ideas. 

    James, when you ask, “What if in the first forty years of my life I had just been myself,” you are saying what many of us are thinking.  Most of us have had unconventional ideas flowing through our heads for years.  We’ve always FELT that something was wrong but until now we had no way to connect with others who agreed.  Now, all that’s changed. 

    Once the unconventional ideas are out there for all to see, without the filtering of editors, producers and those with a vested interest, they gain a life of their own.  People become more confident adopting the strange ideas into their lives.   Individuals now create change on an individual basis. 

    Today, many of us are caught between the two paradigms.  We can incorporate the unconventional into our lives but we remain anonymous.  You are unusual because you attach your name to your strange beliefs.

    Thanks for that. 

  • nice, “when in doubt, mumble.” this has be the best quote i have seen in a while. 

    i have an idea, if you do successfully become the VP, maybe you can let your wife be the president? is that even allowed? husband and wife run the whole world. but that way your whole family get to live in the big white house for free for a few years, i know you hate buying houses.

    al gore and tipper picture is just perfect.

  • Anonymous

    James –
         Your true voice is resonating stronger in every post – like a race horse who plodded along until the 1/2 way turn and is pouring it on for the next half –

    also – my reading recommendation for you – get the latest edition, November 2011,  of  “The Sun” magazine – (black and white photo on cover of woman with dancers)
    go to page 46, read article titled   –   “Elson Habib, Playing White, Ponders His First Move”

    not only will it freak out the chess part of you programming – it will spur you on to a wide range of new metaphors in your own beautiful writing –  Namaste – mm

  • John Walles

    James, first how long did it take you to get laid?  Obviously you have been successful at least two times.  Nothing like two daughters to clarify your mind.  Just wait until they are in High School.  Second, I’d vote for you.  I prefer your attitude on the Vic VP slot.


  • Jeff

    Maybe it’s just my Monday melancholy, but the lesson I took from the Dan Quayle story is – if she’s not physically attracted to you, there’s nothing you can say and no amounting of relating you can do that’ll make her want to hook up with you.  Story of my life.

  • Portercat

    Please write a book about being a backup Quarterback in the NFL.  Best job ever, and they get paid more than the VP.

    • Anon

      Being a back-up quarterback is like being a goal keeper in soccer who is tasked with stopping a one-on-one or a penalty shot, except that’s your default state of existence, all the time. Everybody accepts that your team is screwed if you’re called upon, so if you fail, it’s not on you, and should you succeed, you’re the hero.

      Just don’t do too well and play your way into the starting gig…

  • Robinmelina

    That kiss says it all.  Its the kind of kiss you never ever want, and if you have to play a role for someone else´s project and subject yourself to a kiss like that (she looks squashed) then its just not worth it.  She should have left then.

  • I announced my candidacy for President, Stocktwits party.  You’d make an excellent VP.  http://pointsandfigures.com/2011/09/25/stocktwits-presidential-candidate-me/

    I penciled you in for Secy of State, but VP it is.

  • kb

    James, you are brilliant, but like us other anti-yet-qualified-for-MENSA idiots, sometimes we just do dumb things.  This post is more schizo than Raymond Carver on a “who cares” drug.

    Did that work?  Probably not.  Anyway – 

    not your best.  But most are your best, so other than this one, everything you’ve written is great.

    There you go, 1/4 kissass, 1/4 backhanded compliment, and 1/2 you took some schizo way out on this post.

    I hope you like math.  It may or may not add up.

  • Anonymous

    ,,,@03a32de08d769350fc871c21f7e82d2a:disqus …………

    Listen to this…Brother’s neighbor makes 68 hourly on the Laptop. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7958 USD just working on the PC for a few hours. Read about it on this web site…. http://alturl.com/2jrxw

  • DD

    Why is there only one rule that states never talk about work when you are halfway through?
    Why do you believe this to be a good rule? Why wouldn’t it be a good idea talk about your work with people to get  more insight on it?

  • My ex told me, just after breaking my heart that I would never find anyone who would truly love me and make me happy unless I was totally honest about who I was. I couldn’t pretend to be someone else and simultaneously find the person who would love the person I really was. 

    It took close to a year for the heart ache to fade enough to let the words sink in. And then, they were life changing.