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Trust me on this: Missing ballots were found during ditch clean-up

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to declare Norm Coleman as Minnesota's next Senator. Think I'm kidding? Think again.

A couple of weeks ago, I was helping clean my dad's adopted section of ditch, getting frustrated that I was finding only the usual litter -- waterlogged tabloid covers, capped plastic pop bottles that I didn't intend to open, and dirty VHS tapes that had now become muddy as well -- when my eyes were drawn to something in the tall grass. It was a cardboard box.

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I ripped off the duct-tape holding it shut, opened the flaps, and found that I was staring at a boxful of ballots from last November's election. Must have fallen out of somebody's pickup, I thought to myself, and hoisted the box up to the roadside, where I would later pick it up.

As I finished cleaning my portion of the ditch, I was overwhelmed by a distinct feeling of possibility: that the decaying box of ballots I had found would be the key to ending the whole mess of appointing Minnesota's next Senator. I felt guilty at myself for even letting the thought enter my mind, but I just couldn't help it.

When I got home, I carried the box to my room and laid it on my desk with care. It was in pretty rough shape, and the first few layers of ballots were unreadable, but otherwise, I was astounded at how well my find had been preserved, considering it had been lying in the ditch for six months. I figured that, after one rainfall, the wet ballots had dried as one unit and formed a sort of protective shield -- a crust, if you will -- that kept the rest from harm.

So I had to discard several dozen ballots that were simply unreadable, but that's okay, because I have a pretty good idea of what they contained: votes for Norm Coleman. I can conclude this because every ballot in the box that I could read -- every single one -- indicated a vote for Coleman. I knew that would be the case.

After all, what do you expect from District 5 Township (where the ballots came from, as indicated on the outside of the box), the most Conservative area of Becker County? That people are going to vote Democrat?

I counted, and there were 314 readable votes in the ballot box -- enough to give Norm Coleman a two-vote lead over Al Franken. Now the State of Minnesota won't have to spend any more time being underrepresented in the Senate, the Democrats won't get their filibuster (which would have meant more power for the Democrats than any party should have), and we, the people of Minnesota, can return to the "norm" of our everyday lives.

In that sense, I'm happy Coleman won -- frankly, there would be no more norm if Coleman had lost. I can imagine he's happy, too, along with the rest of his Republican followers. After all, he has to love his job if he keeps reapplying for it every six years.

I think even Al Franken will be a little relieved when he finds out he lost the Senate election. He won't have to waste any more of his fortune on lawsuits (because you just can't argue with my evidence) and gets to leave Minnesota and go back to doing what he has always done best -- comedy. Who knows? -- Stuart Smalley may just make his return.

As for the Democrats of Minnesota, they don't have too much room to complain. If they don't get another Democrat in the Senate, they do get someone who used to be a Democrat, which is almost the same.

Really, when you think about it, no one loses. It's beautiful!

"Wait! What are those chewed-up bits of paper on the floor? And where did my dog go? I hold the keys to changing the course of history forever, and Gus comes along and eats them! Well, never mind then. I guess the Senate race isn't over after all. Sorry to get your hopes up. Now please excuse me while I go kill my dog.

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