Anybody else need a post-campaign shower?

The 2006 election campaign is over, and I think we all need a rest - not to mention a shower.

Every two years the campaign blitz grows increasingly overwhelming. You can't get through a single commercial break on television without seeing an ad in which one candidate labels another a sleazeball. And the people running for Congress just won't go away. It seems hardly a day has gone by without a visit from the candidates, their running mates, their daughters or their college roommates' best friends' ophthalmologists.

Remember a few years ago, when we in the Upper Midwest lamented the lack of attention we received from presidential candidates? We feared the region was becoming irrelevant nationally. Oh, to be irrelevant again.

Campaign rhetoric is at its highest in so-called "swing" states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. (They call us swing states not because Midwesterners are into wife-swapping, but because our voters appear evenly split between the two main political parties. And also because we enjoy a good Benny Goodman tune.)

Because Minnesota's incumbent governor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, was considered vulnerable to defeat, the Democrats made that state a priority. They bought a lot of air time for DFL hopeful Mike Hatch and former President Bill Clinton endorsed him in an ad.

The Republicans, eager to keep Pawlenty in power, sent First Lady Laura Bush and Rudy Giuliani.

Meanwhile, the airwaves were clogged with campaign commercials. You couldn't so much as watch a ballgame this fall without sitting through an hour's worth of political ads so vile you felt like hurling your nachos. There's something sickening about accusatory half-truths and images of the targeted candidate grimacing unattractively, as if he were digesting a week-old burrito:

"Attorney General Mike Hatch made health-care premiums rise and is under investigation. He doesn't like puppies, children or apple pie. Is that the kind of man you want in the Capitol?"

Then, before you can reach the clicker, another ad begins:

"Governor Tim Pawlenty made health-care premiums rise and is under investigation. He opposes stem-cell research that could help Minnesota families. He even opposes research to invent a bag of potato chips you can open without the whole thing exploding all over your family room."

Wisconsin and Minnesota are getting all this unwanted attention because they, like many of their neighbors in the Upper Midwest, are battleground states. In the balance, experts say, is control of the governors' offices, Congress and potentially the 2008 presidential race.

The so-called experts have forgotten something. As my nine loyal readers may recall, I am running for president in '08. I may not have a party nomination, a single endorsement or enough money in my war chest to buy a full-size Three Musketeers bar, but I have a promise: The Bromley for President campaign will not air a single ad. I won't visit your town. I won't show up at your front door asking to kiss your baby.

Instead, I'll pledge to make the Upper Midwest the forgotten hinterland it once was. I'll make sure we return to quietly sending in our federal tax dollars, only to receive pennies in return; and cranking out milk and cheese, even though Uncle Sam's dairy pricing system is set up to wedge our farmers out of the market.

But first, now that the mid-term mudslinging is over, I hereby vow to take a shower.

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