My Friend Norine has come up with a way to turn the disappointment of last Tuesday's presidential election into cold, hard cash.
She is putting the finishing touches on an ad campaign she is calling "Got Values?" and I am putting all my Starbucks money behind it.
There will be T-shirts, bumper stickers, magazine ads and television spots, and instead of a milk mustache, our celebrities will have their foreheads marked with a cross of ashes.
We are banking on the fact that the lesson of the presidential election is: "It was values, stupid!"
We figure that because it was the Republicans teaching this lesson, there has got to be a way to make money on it, to keep that money from the poor and to protect it from taxes.
And I think my friend Norine may have found it.
We just have to figure out which values.
Apparently, if you are more worried about a Super Bowl halftime show than about the fact that the United States invaded a sovereign nation without provocation, you've got values.
If you are more offended by two guys kissing than by the fact that 100,000 Iraqi citizens have died while being liberated, you have values.
And if you care more about a single, fertilized egg in some deep freeze somewhere than about all the children with diabetes and all the grandparents with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, you have values.
If you care more about your exclusive and personal relationship with God than you do about his admonition to care for the poor and the weak, you have values.
The right values, anyway.
Apparently, if you "believe" that the United States has clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with al-Qaida; that we have found those weapons of mass destruction; and that the majority of world leaders backed our decision to invade Iraq - "beliefs" held by nearly 70 percent of those who voted for George W. Bush, according to a University of Maryland study - you believe in the right things.
If you believe that "under God" must remain in the Pledge of Allegiance; if you believe that the Ten Commandments and nativity scenes should be on display at courthouses; if you believe that simply telling teenagers not to have sex will guarantee that they do not, you have the required credentials to run for public office.
If you believe that we need to junk up the Constitution with an amendment designed to punish the people who might be so greatly moved as to burn a U.S. flag, you have passed the new values litmus test and you are eligible for the Supreme Court.
If you don't believe that the preservation of the environment is a relevant part of any discussion about the sanctity of life, you are eligible for my friend Norine's ad campaign.
If you believe that a 3 percent plurality is a mandate; if you believe that the 55 million Americans who did not vote for you don't count, you can serve in the Bush administration's second term.
And if you think that you can just start talking about God more often or trot out Southern Baptist candidates like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter who are comfortable with such talk, then you are a Democrat.
And that might be the start of our next ad campaign.
© 2004 Baltimore Sun