Dear Senator Edwards:

First, congratulations on being picked as his running mate by Senator Kerry. I was afraid he would choose Senator Clinton, thereby reminding the public of her husband and the need to discover what is is, as well as the proper use of the cigar, neither thing playing well in the "values" category this year, the former because it insults the intelligence of a fourth-grader, and the latter because…well, draw your own conclusions. My purpose in writing is to invite you to avail yourself of the services of my organization, the Institute for Modifying All Governmental Entities, well-known in Washington by its acronym IMAGE. Our services are designed to help you appear to be what you want the voter to think you are, regardless of what you actually are. After all (as they say), perception is everything; however, by all means don't think I've inferred from your actions that you are anything but true-blue, rich, and as American as apple pie and all the rest. It's just that everyone sometimes needs coaching, especially to ward off slips in the heat of campaign battle.

I've noticed that the republicans, villains that they are collectively but not altogether individually, since some of them use our services, have already begun a campaign against you, accusing you of being a shyster, ambulance-chasing lawyer and also of refusing to fund the military in Iraq, and therefore unpatriotic. An arm of IMAGE called the Department for Understanding Propaganda Efforts (DUPE, for short) will help you in handling unfair criticism, whether or not you've chased any ambulances or give a fig about the soldiers in Iraq. Above all else, you want to avoid giving the impression that you've been brainwashed. If Howard Dean had not so frightened the Iowans out of their skulls with his policies and fraternity brats, and the New Hampshire gang with that awful scream, Kerry would not be running today, since he admitted that when he voted for the Iraqi War he never dreamed the president would actually pull it off without asking the permission of the French, Germans, Kofi Annan and his crooked staff, and the chimp-keeper of the Los Angeles Zoo, thereby admitting that he was brainwashed and therefore too naïve to be president. He beat out Gephardt only because people mistook the Missourian for a cigar-store Indian, and he beat you because he said you lacked what it took to be president. In other words, he got lucky, but he could have won far more easily if he had gotten the advice of DUPE and stonewalled everything, just like George Bush, much the smarter of the two.

An important part of political correctness, the driving force in the nation for the last 25 years or so, is emotional correctness. Our Emotion Manipulation Office for Tactical Effects, EMOTE, as it is known, is designed to help you know when to laugh, cry, be angry, sing, stare, high-five, hug, etc., and is directed by experts who understand the nation's demographics. One doesn't speak at a NASCAR race the same way he does at a ladies' afternoon tea or in a Methodist Church. Bill Clinton, rumored as a result of reading a stolen IMAGE how-to manual, was a master of emotion-manipulation, able to laugh or cry, depending upon the location of TV cameras at the time. He demonstrated this to the world as he departed the Ron Brown funeral, as you may remember. Hugging is big this year, as you already know, your embrace with Kerry at that first outing feared by some very near the mutual rib-cracking stage. Patting derrieres is definitely not an in-thing now, since the TV cameras catch everything, such as that pat-on-the-behind in the Kerry/Edwards plane-boarding episode. Homosexuals have been doing this in public for years, therefore you must be very careful so as not to be identified with…well, whatever. Some free advice: be careful with your smile. Former president Carter worked on his smile (a perpetual thing, even when asleep, I've heard) so hard that he threw a jaw out of place and couldn't speak for two weeks in the campaign of 1980. The silence helped him, of course, but you may actually have something to say, so be careful.

IMAGE's agency called the Group Responsible for Obviating Objectionable Mannerisms (known, naturally, as GROOM) will aid you in the avoidance of damaging speech, inappropriate attire, or foolish actions. Most politicians are accomplished baby-kissers after five years in the Senate, but I've heard you didn't run again for the Senate this year because you called cigarettes death lollipops in your first campaign, and the farmers in North Carolina, who have terribly long memories, vowed you would be hounded out of the state if you ran again. Cigarettes ARE bad, but you have to know when to keep your mouth shut, mostly 90 percent of the time when campaigning or out of court. Kissing babies, milking cows, wearing denim, hugging everybody, kissing women (especially the pretty ones), appearing to be suffering from hemorrhoids while sitting in those little chairs and reading stories to the first grade, wearing hard hats in factories while trying to look interested, and eating natural, un-homogenized, un-fertilized, uncooked, non-genetically-altered, totally tasteless salads are all in-things this year - just another free tip. Our books on proper attire are invaluable. If Al Gore had paid attention in 2000, he wouldn't have resorted to those horrible "earth tones" casuals, which made him look like a sissy, to revitalize his campaign. Put yourself in the shoes of a Tennessee hillbilly looking at that monstrosity, and you can see why he didn't win his own state.

Another free tip accruing to GROOM mannerism materials: Don't flash that Vee for Victory sign. It reminds people of Richard Nixon, who was no more crooked than most politicians but got caught. Also, don't take midnight rides with women other than your wife, but, if you do, don't go near a bridge, especially if you've had a few, but if you do, don't wait for over nine hours to report an accident. Teddy Kennedy thought he was presidential material a few years after he left a young lady in an upside-down car underwater at the Edgartown bridge, where she died, and the guffaws and swearing in Indiana and Nebraska were heard all the way to Moscow. That sordid affair made him a folk hero in Massachusetts, like former KKK honcho Bobby Byrd in West Virginia, so they easily stayed in the Senate, but the presidency belongs to the whole country.

IMAGE is ready to serve you with DUPE, EMOTE, GROOM, and other departments. Presently, we're offering free to new clients a CD on which is the weaving of the Dean Scream with the Harking Wellstone-Eulogy- Scream with a Kennedy Speech-Scream with a symphony concocted of the sounds of the Chicago Zoo and accompanied by the Bongo Bongo Club of Outer Mongolia. Its amazing sound is guaranteed to get rid of mice, mosquitoes, and in-laws, though not necessarily in that order. I look forward to working with you.

I.M. Reverself, CEO