Specimen-Cup Politics

How beguiling the myth that if we only would avert our eyes from the febrile phantasmagoria of Flytrap, the nation would again rise to the Olympian heights of Periclean democracy. Without this gutter-press obsession with White House sex, American voters could focus on the “real issues” in the mid-term congressional elections.

Get real. Chatterbox has spent the last two days in the Deep South, and he feels compelled to report that–Flytrap aside–politics has descended to a level so low that candidates would have to look up to qualify as road kill.

Take the Senate race in Georgia…please. For three months, lackluster GOP incumbent Paul Coverdell and Democrat Michael Coles have been squabbling over the ultimate piss-poor issue–their own drug tests. Back in June, Coles, who made his fortune pushing an addictive substance (chocolate chip cookies), proudly announced that he had passed a drug test–and where was Coverdell’s urine sample?

Since dignity has no role in Georgia politics, Coverdell promptly donated his bodily fluids to science. But when Coverdell released his perfect “I never ate a poppy bagel” test results, Coles began sneering about a suspicious coverup: Why hadn’t Coverdell’s drug test included screening for anti-depressants? What’s Coverdell hiding? Certainly, a great state like Georgia, with an inspiring political tradition that stretches from Herman Talmadge to Lester Maddox to Newt Gingrich, can’t afford a senator who might be (gasp!) listening to Prozac as well as lobbyists.

The Atlanta Constitution branded this bodily fluids furor an “embarrassment” and a “circus.” But the “my urine’s cleaner than yours” boasting didn’t end until Thursday when Coverdell released the results of his second drug test. No anti-depressants were found in the Senator, who, admittedly, has been frowning a lot lately. As for Democrat Coles, who deserves derision for starting the Specimen Cup Wars, Chatterbox is praying that he won’t go the distance by next challenging Coverdell to a virility test–America’s first senatorial sperm-count matchup.

Walter Shapiro