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Clark: Friendship, hug are election night surprises

Thu., Nov. 8, 2012

The Presidential Press Posse had just prowled into the Lair of Democrats in the Red Lion Hotel at the Park when a guy I barely know sidled up to me.

“Heard there was quite a panic over where the GOP’s partying,” said the man, who identified himself as Rick Lloyd.

The statement puzzled me.

My five-member entourage had just left the posh Grand Pennington ballroom at the Davenport Hotel. Republicans were in an OK mood since the hammer was yet to fall.

But we sure didn’t see any kind of disturbance.

Lloyd cut in.

“Yeah. Matt Shea called for a round of shots, and everybody HIT THE FLOOR!!!”

Election night humor.*

I’ve always been drawn to these freak shows.

(*I’ll assume most of you get Lloyd’s hilarious joke about Shea, the gun-toting Road Rage Republican. So I won’t devote any time to backstory regurgitation.)

“Four more years! Four more years!

“Four more … ”

The Red Lion Democrats took up the above chant after 30 full seconds of rabid screaming when it became official that President Barack Obama had dismissed Mitt Romney like a doorbell evangelist.

I couldn’t disagree.

I need four more years to recover from the stress and strain that comes with Presidential Press Posse leadership.

About 60 readers applied after I went looking for an Obama booster and a Romney rooter to join me in roaming Spokane’s political party spots.

Sifting the worthy from the weird takes an emotional toll.

One mother, for example, wanted me to pick her daughter, who, from the emailed photograph, looks to be all of 10, maybe.

Now I’m flattered to warrant such trust.

I want all the mothers of the region to know that I am a responsible man who could baby-sit their children.

But exposing a child to the dysfunction of an election night?

That sort of abuse could lead to a lifetime of counseling and meds.

Then there was the woman who called herself Blonde Squawker.

“We need President Obama to stop Romney from killing children,” she wrote in one of several shrill emails and a couple of phone messages.

Blonde Squawker triggered a memory of something I once heard in a movie.

Oh, yeah. It was Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets.”

“Sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.”

Decision Time came on Tuesday afternoon.

I chose 32-year-old Eric Robison to be my representative on the left.

What makes Eric so special?

Well, he’s a Mormon, just like the Republican presidential candidate. With the exception that Robison writes a blog devoted to “Mormons for Obama.”

Plus Robison promised to join the press posse wearing a shirt festooned with Obama’s face in glittery rhinestones.

With such a strong and costumed leftist, I needed an equally impressive right-winger.

I scanned my emails and there she was: Penny Lancaster.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. This woman has written about as many words in The Spokesman-Review as I have.

Except that Lancaster’s opinions have come via letters to the editor on a variety of drumbeats like anti-abortion, anti-pornography, anti-gay marriage, anti-commercial gambling …

She’s one religious-right warrior, this lady.

“Few people have worked as hard as I have over the years to stir up political controversy,” wrote Lancaster, 68, in her email.

I can relate to that.

Mad scientist thoughts filled my mind.

Exposing these two partisans to each other on an election night this huge would surely produce a nuclear meltdown of entertainment.

As it turned out, alas, only the pollsters predicting a Romney landslide were more out to lunch.

Maybe Gandhi and Buddha would have been more respectful to each other, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Lancaster and Robison sat together in the back seat of my ’67 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, chatting away like two long-lost chums.

“What have I done?” I moaned from the front seat.

Then I got to thinking.

Maybe something else is going on here.

Maybe the answer to all the partisan acrimony that divides this country can be found right here in my gas-guzzling, cherry red land yacht.

What would happen if America’s Democrats and Republicans gathered together in the back seat just like this pair?

Would they find a common bond, too?

Who knows?

The only thing I know is that they’d all fit.

But I can’t complain. It was a fine press posse despite the harmony.

My pals Joe Brasch and Scott Cooper came along to ensure that none of my past column targets would throw a punch.

As it turned out, there was no need to worry.

In fact, Mary Verner, Spokane’s last one-term mayor, shook my hand and even gave me a hug.

And though the night turned dismal for Republicans, not all was gloomy.

Nancy McLaughlin, for example, may have lost her bid for a seat on the state Senate. But she looked a winner by wearing one of my Presidential Press Posse buttons from 2008.

Another great moment in politics came at the Red Lion.

I finally got to meet Amy Biviano in the flesh.

I had previously only talked to the state legislative candidate over the phone when she told me about posing topless for “Playboy” magazine as a student at Yale in 1995.

Biviano was fully clothed and appeared to be having a great time despite being in a losing situation against her incumbent Republican foe, the aforementioned Shea.

The diminutive woman greeted me with genuine laughter and the following words.

“I did it all for you.”

I really don’t have a clue what this former “Women of the Ivy League” model meant by that.

But it feels good all the same.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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