- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Discussions of the 2000 presidential election may never satisfactorily agree on how the major broadcast news networks made chaos of America's once-esteemed political process.
Suspicion will linger that liberal bias prompted the premature announcement of Democratic victory in Florida, discouraging many Republican voters from going to the polls.
Pondering the mess, I turned to English philosopher William of Occam (1280-1349). His revered "Ockham's Razor," is a guide to clear thinking that states rather unclearly: "Multiplicity ought not to be posited without necessity." In science, that is expressed: "When more than one explanation of a phenomenon is offered, the simplest explanation is probably the most accurate one."
Galileo took that course when he argued that the Copernican earth-goes-around-sun theory provided a better astrophysical account of the orbits of the moon, planets and stars than Ptolemy's sun-goes-around-earth theory.
To aid William's shaving away of superfluities to slice down to the nitty-gritty, I offer Starr's Scalpel: "Excessive improbabilities excise probable possibility."
In uncertain life, it isn't sufficient to judge events with such broad and meaningless generalizations as "anything is possible." We must rely on probability theory, which works pretty well when figuring with figures, as in calculating your odds of winning a lottery. When the human element is added, the mixture becomes complex and too many improbable occurrences challenge credibility.
For example, police officers are automatically skeptical of multiple coincidences. They take a dim view of a suspect's story that he just happened to have a long criminal record when he just happened to be walking in a neighborhood he had never visited before and just happened to see an unlocked door, so he just happened to enter the house and just happened to find a dead person who had been shot with a gun that just happened to have his fingerprints on it and he just happened to possess some of the victim's property when he was arrested.
So let us follow my scalpel's cutting edge along this far-from-complete train of improbable events as it speeds to the disastrous election-media wreck.
(But please don't think I'm hinting at conspiracy. We all know that there have never been any conspiracies on the left, especially the mythical International Communist Conspiracy Involving American diplomats. It just happened that Marxist dictators conquered much of the world and Alger Hiss turned out to be the Stalinist spy that Whittaker Chambers said he was.)
Going back only to 1992, the liberal media instantly approved of a major political party's selection of a draft-dodger with murky state government credentials as its presidential candidate. Media enthusiasm extended to the candidate's running-mate a tobacco-fueled robot who had inherited his father's name and Senate seat but not his ability to think for himself.
The Fourth Estate's loyalty remained unshaken through exposure of the candidate/electee's long-running adultery with Gennifer Flowers and other sex scandals under his wife's nose and the wife's involvement with real estate fraud and exceptional luck in commodities futures. The mysterious appearance of the real estate fraud's records and a "snafu" of several thousand confidential FBI records in the White House were shrugged off by the boys and girls with press passes.
Then came impeachment for presidential perjury about his romp with a flirty intern, as his media defense team's most respected member, pornographer Larry Flynt, blackmailed the Senate jurors into acquittal by threatening to print real or imagined smut about their sex lives.
In the meantime, news hounds covering the vice president and Heir to the Throne looked away when he accepted illegal campaign contributions in Buddhist temples. They continued doing that as he told whopping lies that would have raised doubts of another man's grip on reality.
And so it went; improbabilities piled improbabilities, climaxing with a journalistic abortion that dumped the world's greatest superpower into a mud-wrestling match for a few ballots that could be easily tampered with by Democratic election workers.
It's hard to imagine a better plan to prolong the Clinton reign indefinitely, with Bubba Bill controlling his robot from behind the throne.
But don't you dare think of conspiracy.
All of this could have happened entirely by accident, just as you could win a lottery.
Some things just happen yeah, right.

Bill Starr is a retired author living in Burbank and was a marine rifleman in the Korean War.

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