Dear Debater:

Ever since the famous 1960 presidential debates of Nixon and Kennedy, sometimes called the Beetle-brow/Bostonian Affair, the art of bamboozling the voter via the staged circus called a debate has been accorded inordinate importance in the matter of gaining the use of Air Force I, though along with that privilege, unfortunately, comes the problem of actually governing. It has been proven by the polls, however, that some citizens actually watch the debates, especially if no reality shows with mostly naked women mud-wrestling in front of ogling muscle-bound morons is on another channel. This is why my organization, the Institute for Modifying all Governmental Entities (known by its acronym IMAGE) can be of great value to you. Among our many programs for people-makeover is the one called the Idiosyncrasies of Debate (known, of course as ID), which is designed to call attention to the debater rather than to the issues, since political correctness, the current fad du jour of the social engineers, emphasizes at the exclusion of all else the esteem to be granted to the individual, never mind if he has the IQ of an orangutan or the integrity (actually lack thereof) of Ted Kennedy or Bobby Byrd.

ID is comprised of three departments: Facial Ostentation Prestidigitation (known as FOP, for short); Patriotic and Homiletic Outpourings, Objurgations, and Evangelical Yammering (PHOOEY, for short); and Debating Exercises for Cosmetologizing or Excluding Issues and Tax-talk (known, of course, as DECEIT). FOP operatives prepare the candidate/debater with particular respect to his appearance, especially his face. In 1960, Kennedy was made-up to appear as a cross between star actors of the day, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn, while Nixon looked like an amalgamation of the hunchback of Notre Dame and Frankenstein, his bushy dark eyebrows, four o'clock shadow, and sweaty upper lip marking him as a hoodlum on his way to mug somebody in a dark alley, not someone who should run the country.

With the advent of Botox, hair spray, quadruple-bladed razors, lifts, nips, tucks, rugs, tints, and sweat suppressants, we can make your head look like the sculpture of Adonis, though you have to be careful not to smile too deeply or grin too broadly, on pain of breaking something, maybe your jaw or an eyebrow. After we outfit you with the latest power-tie and four-button suit-coat, the soccer moms and old ladies in sneakers and blue hair will swoon and never hear a word, while the men will dream of the babes to be seduced with that look and also never hear a word. Since sex is the most important subject in the land these days, the FOP gang will also teach you how to create an expression combining unabashed innocence with a sexy leer, making you attractive to both grandmas and teeny-boppers, not to mention their moms and all the "significant others."

You will also be taught the proper way to sneer at your opponent without looking mean. Think back to the Bush-Gore debate of 2000 when Gore had an attack of the "sighs," and sighed himself right out of Air Force I. If he had just known how to properly sneer, he might have won his own state of Tennessee (and the election), where sneering, especially in the eastern mountains, is an art. Also, since tattoos and rings are "in" now, FOP can arrange for an American flag to be installed in either ear lobe (depending on the "orientation" of the crowd to be impressed), or a flag tattoo, perhaps just above the shirt-cuff line, though either may do harm in the Bible-belt South, where rings and tattoos are thought to be of the devil.

PHOOEY will help you prepare rousing and emotion-packed speeches designed to distract attention from bothersome questions about something like the trade deficit or an exit strategy from Iraq. You will learn when and how to reference the way you overcame a childhood of poverty or, if necessary, explain the insurmountable obstacles you overcame in growing up normally in an atmosphere of abundance, threatened by ski slopes in Switzerland or gushing oil-wells in Texas. You will learn the art of answering a question with a question or questioning an answer with an answer, thus confusing your adversary and, more importantly, making the questioner look like the idiot he is instead of some knowledgeable high-profile anchor-person trying to steal the whole show in an attempt to gather bargaining power for use in gaining a big raise in his next contract negotiations. You will learn to develop a talent you probably already have - lying - to the point that you can make people believe anything from the flat-earth theory to the fact that a cholesterol reading of 2000 means long life and happiness. PHOOEY's main adviser in this area is Dan Rather of CBS/ViaCom.

Quoting the Bible, whether or not they are familiar with it, has always been a favorite ploy of candidates for office and is especially important in a debate, particularly in the South. PHOOEY staffers will furnish you a Bible verse to use in any part of the debate and give you fail-safe instructions in how to remember the location of the verse, lest your adversary demand that you prove you know whereof you speak. You will know how to apply a scripture to any subject, whether it is abortion, mercy-killing, suicide/homicide/bombers (bad guys), hanging people, hanging-chads (especially in Florida), civil unions, same-sex marriage (Adam and Steve or Madam and Eve), etc. Since diversity and multiculturalism are the watchwords of the politically correct crowd, you will be taught appropriate expressions in Spanish, Greek, Polish, Swahili, Yiddish, Brooklynese, Mississippi Drawl, Appalachian Hillbilly, Arabic, and, hardest of all, proper English. French and German are out this year for obvious reasons.

DECEIT is closely related to PHOOEY, i.e., its main objective is to coach the debater in how to always either make an unattractive subject assume the shine of goodness and mercy, or change the subject altogether when ultra-touchy matters such as taxes are broached by the devilish interrogators masquerading as objective questioners, more interested in making themselves look smart than in making you look any way at all. For instance, a question about Iraq would become a discussion of Afghanistan and vice versa, or, better still, a discussion of girls going to school anywhere in the Middle East, or Abu Ghraib being saintly in comparison with the beheadings. The same-sex marriage thing can be changed to a discussion of teaching the use of condoms in the fourth grade. In other words, DECEIT can help you dodge all the thorny issues by simply knowing how to steer the discussion to either the un-thorny issues such as the government's role in being a watchdog on the corrupt NCAA, or the totally absurd such as what the meaning of is is. Former president Clinton is a consultant in this department.

This only scratches the surface with respect to what ID offers, but I believe you can get the idea from these examples. If you want to know how to look, stand, sit down, sneer, dodge questions, look pious, look worldly, insult with a smile, and even answer some questions, you will do well to avail yourself of IMAGE's services. Remember, never let reality stand in the way of possibility. Be what you would rather be, rather than what you are.

I.M. Reverself, CEO