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Published November 10, 2008

Saturday morning cartoons are to blame for the extended traumatic experience that is the Bush administration.  Brainwashed by the Superfriends, Optimus Prime, and Penny from Inspector Gadget, it's no wonder we look for a flashy hero who can save the world and sell us Cocoa Puffs, when what we really need is a grounded parent who'll save our money and trick us into eating broccoli.  When we think of ourselves as the children of the nation, and choosing our President as choosing a parent, the last eight years make up a tragic, hopeful, coming-of-age story...

One Tuesday in November of 2000, we came home from school, did our homework, had some mac and cheese, voted for Papa Gore, and got all cozy in our p.j.'s, ready for him to tuck us in.  Then we heard some shouting outside.  Papa Clinton came up to our room and told us that Papa Gore had just been beaten up by our drunken half-uncle George.  The cops wouldn't help--apparently drunken half-uncle George was "connected."  We were told to go to sleep and not to worry. 

For the next few weeks we went to school, barely able to participate in the cootie-fights and fling-boogery we used to love so dearly.  Teacher even pulled us aside to ask, "Is everything alright at home?"  We sniffled back some tears and simply said, "They stoled my Daddy."  Teacher patted us on the back and said, "Aw, but your Uncle George is so charming."

Thanks to his friends in the court, drunken half-uncle George got full custody of us and a restraining order against Papa Gore.  The entire family knew that George had no business raising kids, but his friends were such intimidating thugs that everyone stayed quiet.  The years passed by in a blur of ignorance, fighting, and denial.  We were basically forced to raise ourselves in the absence of a respectable role model.  Drunken half-uncle George pissed off all the neighbors, what with all the loud partying, raping and torture. 

These were supposed to be important years for us.  Our bodies were changing, we started dating, and we had lots of questions but no one we could trust.  Once, in desperation, we even called cousin John Kerry over because drunken half-uncle George was throwing beer bottles at the Constitution.  Cousin John quickly disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Then it happened.  Last week we finally started acting like adults.  Late Tuesday night we brought someone home.  We introduced him to drunken half-uncle George who, upon hearing our new friend's exotic name, called for his gang of thugs.  But they didn't come.  One by one, they'd already jumped ship.  Drunken half-uncle George turned off Fox News, hoisted himself from his La-Z-Boy, told our friend to leave, and told us to go upstairs. 

"No!" we said.  "This time you can't just lock us in our room as enemy combatants and make us miss the prom!"   He was shocked.  We continued, "We're not going anywhere.  You're not our real dad.  You never will be."

Drunken half-uncle George went to his room, sobbing, and slowly began packing his filthy clothes.  He's still in there right now.  Things are a little tense, but we have plenty to keep our minds busy.  Cleaning crews are surveying the damage.  We're gonna have to have the carpets replaced (there are some stenches you just can't  wet-dry-vac away).

But there's a new feeling.  We might even feel like one of the heroes in those Saturday morning cartoons we watched in a simpler time.  We've just defeated the evil oil-monster, made some new friends, and learned an important lesson about speaking up when a grown-up tries to touch you in the bad way.

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