MONDAY, AUGUST 14 Just two weeks after the Republican Party charmed the nation with its wondrous parade of love and tolerance in Philadelphia, today brought the commencement of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Would the Democrats rise above the huggy hogwash offered by the GOP and offer a legitimate, issue-oriented vision for America's political future? Or would the Dems take the Republicans' bait and dive headlong into a simpering swamp of cheap emotional appeals and bumpersticker sloganeering? Convention Day One caught the Dems distinctly leaning toward the second route. But in place of the GOP's rainbow parade of multi-culti others, the Democrats ushered in a cavalcade of stars, hoping to make up in glamour what they lack in substance, and smartly realizing that after corporate backing, celebrity is the most powerful political tool in our stupid, stupid country. Among the celebs showing their pretty faces at the Dems' four-day fiesta: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, Christie Brinkley, Rob Reiner, Boyz II Men, Jimmy Smits, Martin Sheen, and some Baldwin brother. Dumbest appearance by a celeb: Tommy Lee Jones, giving his worst performance since Batman Forever in a desperately clunky speech praising his former college roommate Al Gore. (Woe to any candidate who hangs his legitimacy on the fact that he once shared a dorm room with the star of U.S. Marshals.) Smartest appearance by a celeb: Stevie Wonder, who represented the apotheosis of both the Republicans' and Democrats' ploys by being a racial minority, differently abled, and a celebrity.

··Also at Convention Day One: President Clinton gave a speech, Rage Against the Machine played a free concert, and the LAPD pepper-sprayed and rubber-bulletized a bunch of protesters and innocent bystanders.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15 One of the more remarkable maneuvers of the Republicans' recent convention was the inclusion of a living, breathing homosexual on its speakers roster. Unwilling to be outdone in diversity, this week the Democrats played host to more than 200 openly gay delegates and alternates, several of whom were allowed to speak (about more than trade and finance, we'd like to add). Among the homos speechifying at the DNC: U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, New Mexico activist Gloria Nieto, and, in prime time, Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. On the straight side, National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland said she'd come to the convention solely to fight for gay marriage, while both Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman made references to gay rights in their nomination acceptance speeches. "The Republicans put on a parade of diversity on their convention stage, but when it comes right down to it, they only had a handful of gay and lesbian participants," gloated Democratic National Committee Chair Joe Andrew. "The Democrats are proud to host a record number of gays and lesbians--a true sign that we are the true party of diversity and inclusion." While both parties' interest in all things fruity is undoubtedly your standard election-year ostentation, Last Days finds these "we've-got-more-queers-than-you-do" bragging rights morbidly refreshing.

··Meanwhile, onstage at the Staples Center, the Democratic plot continued to thicken as a trio of splashy, non-homosexual statesmen stepped up to profess the deep worthiness of Vice President Al Gore (a.k.a. Flat Albert). Grizzled veteran Senator Edward Kennedy praised Gore for his courage in selecting Joseph Lieberman as his running mate. Freshly reconciled former rival Bill Bradley praised Gore for his "wide-ranging intellect" and "tolerant life-view." And celebrity civil rights leader Jesse Jackson praised Gore for having the good sense to run against an idiot. To everyone's delight, Jackson repeatedly dissed the dopey George W. before leading the assembly in the invigorating, oddly nauseating chant, "Stay out of the Bushes!"

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16 Several weeks ago, in what has since been portrayed as the most daring and dangerous move made by a politician since Ted Kennedy took the long way home from Chappaquiddick, Al Gore chose Joseph Lieberman--U.S. senator and Orthodox Jew--as his presidential running mate. Tonight the DNC and the world at large got a good gander at the first member of the Jewish faith ever selected for a major-party national ticket, as Joe Lieberman accepted his party's nomination for vice president of the United States. Watching Lieberman's polished, God-heavy speech, Last Days was as charmed by his intelligence as we were alarmed by his bandying about of such creepy, haunted phrases as "standards of decency" and "moral code." Overall, however, Last Days is largely pro-Lieberman, as any deviation from the political norm is welcome at this point, even if that deviation comes in the form of a Muppety little man with a spotty voting record who believes God cares if he eats a cheeseburger. (In other Lieberman news, two days from now Last Days will log on to the official Gore/Lieberman find the Democratic vice presidential candidate identified as Jow Lieberman. Obviously someone misplaced an "e"; whether it was meant to replace the "o" or the "w" is anyone's guess.)

··Also today: A very handsome FBI agent visited The Stranger's offices, hoping to acquire information about the cocky bank robber responsible for a recent I, Anonymous column. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this letter-writing robber, please tell him the Feds are ready to bust his ass.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17 Tonight brought the triumphant convention debut of Vice President Al Gore, who graciously accepted his party's nomination for president and proudly displayed many newly acquired, rigorously rehearsed humanoid gestures. Unfortunately, Gore had to follow the embarrassing opening act of wife Tipper, who shimmied spastically to "Turn the Beat Around" before delivering an unctuous tribute to her hubby's virtue and virility. Things got iffier with the broadcast of a Tipper-narrated "slide-show portrait"--a heartwarming video montage whose purpose was to provide photographic evidence that Al Gore has a normal life just like you and me, and wasn't assembled in a cyborg factory in the late 1980s. Things hit bottom with "the tongue fight," an exceedingly intimate series of kisses executed by the would-be First Couple upon Al's onstage arrival--easily the creepiest public display of affection since Michael Jackson mashed with Lisa Marie at the MTV Music Awards. As for Gore's speech, he made some good points, coming out swinging for teachers, sick children, working-class tax cuts, and campaign finance reform, and managed to be closer to human than ever before. But nothing can erase the knowledge of how unpleasant it would be for both him and us if this exceedingly intelligent and forward-thinking man were forced to live in the public eye for four years.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, SUNDAY, AUGUST 20 Last Days spent the majority of these three days--when we weren't watching the Olympic trials for women's gymnastics--attempting to formulate a coherent, prescriptive synopsis of the upcoming presidential election in the wake of the Democratic National Convention. After hours of thoughtful mulling, about the least offensive course of action we can suggest is to sell your vote on eBay, then give the money to someone less fortunate than yourself. (Or perhaps, if you haven't already, go buy the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs box set.)

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