“Rescue That Jump” Winners

Readers finish Todd Purdum’s unpromising half-sentence.

It’s Stupor Tuesday, the day the media have chosen to designate John Kerry his party’s nominee—not because Kerry will acquire the necessary number of delegates, but because no one can bear the thought of watching any more debates in which Edwards exaggerates his differences with Kerry while Kerry exaggerates his similarities to Edwards. A cry has risen up from every newsroom in the land: Make it stop!

Early results indicate that Kerry is winning in seven out of the 10 contests. Still no exit polls at this writing from California and Minnesota (the latter is a caucus state), and in Vermont Edwards isn’t on the ballot while favorite son Howard Dean, who’s in the lead, is. (Dean isn’t running anymore.) If Edwards gets shut out everywhere, as is expected, Kerry will tonight be declared unbeatable and Howard Fineman will finally have time to wash his socks.

In honor of Kerry’s media coronation, Chatterbox hereby publishes the long-promised results of his Feb. 3 contest, “Rescue That Jump,” in which readers were invited to finish an unpromising half-sentence by Todd S. Purdum that was jumped to Page A18. The half-sentence, which appeared in a Page One New York Times story headlined “A Winning Kerry Loosens Up, And Crowds React,” reads as follows:

As a lonely 11-year-old in a Swiss boarding school, or a Navy lieutenant in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, or a senator from Massachusetts and a presidential contender, Kerry has seldom lacked ______________________.

The real ending is “a sense that the world is mad,” an allusion to Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckling novel Scaramouche, which begins: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” (The 1952 film adaptation, Purdum reported, is Kerry’s favorite film.) Chatterbox challenged readers to finish the sentence more amusingly.

The top-ranked entries are:

In fifth place: “money.” (Multiple submissions)

In fourth place: “a droopy, lifeless gaze that drives all who encounter it to the brink of utter despair.” (Dave Roland)

In third place: “a pair of comfortable Wellington boots.” (Mark Benjamin)

In second place: “mousse.” (Lorne Hanks)

And the winner is: “the appearance of a Scooby Doo villain. (William Minozzi)