The News From Alternate-Earth

(AP) The controversy over last week's presidential election results ramped up another notch today when Attorney-General John Ashcroft announced a full-scale investigation into whether the Ohio voting results that gave the election to John Kerry were rigged.

"Many will say this is a partisan investigation," Ashcroft announced, "but the accuracy and legitimacy of America's votes is essential to our freedom and democracy. I would betray my duty to my office and country if I did not seek answers for the disturbing questions raised by this election."

There was no immediate response from Kerry himself. Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe said, "The election was held. The votes were counted. John Kerry won. Let's all move on for the good of the country." McAullife was speaking from an undisclosed situation, under heavy security following numerous death threats received against himself and his family.

Others disagreed. Speaking before a crowd in Cinncinnatti estimated at seven to eight thousand, former General Motors executive turned conservative film-maker Michael Moore, whose anti-Kerry documentary WINDSURFIN' WUSS has been given much of the credit for reducing Kerry's initial lead in the campaign to an even match, said:

"It's all very simple. The president of Diebold made a statement that he was committed to delivering Ohio's electoral votes to the Democratic candidate. It became known that Diebold's electronic voting machines could be easily hacked and the results manipulated. Diebold refused to acknowledge or close all the security loopholes. Not one Democratic Representative or Senator -- not ONE -- was willing to support vote-verification measures that would have prevented that possibility.

"In the election, exit polls in almost every location indicated that the election was close, but with the edge leaning towards George Bush. In precincts still using paper ballots, the vote totals reflected that edge for Bush. But in the precincts using electronic, non-verifiable machines, over and over and over again the final results differed from the exit polls' results to give a clear win for Kerry.

"The election stinks. The Democrats are trying to wrap the results in newspaper headlines, and telling us all to 'move on'. But the fish is still rotten, and if America swallows any of it, our country will sicken and die."

Following Moore's speech, the crowd of sign-waving, chanting Republicans attempted to march to the Ohio headquarters for the Kerry campaign in downtown Cinncinnati. They were met by lines of police in riot gear, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Moore and others vowed to continue their protests. Similar, though smaller, protests are being held in dozens of cities across America.

In Washington, President Bush released a brief statement: "I've spent four years being accused of stealing the last election. That's not something I'd wish on any man, and certainly not on John Kerry. Both of us should support the Department of Justice's investigation. This is too important, not for John or I, but for the country we both love, to just 'move on'. And if the accusations of vote-rigging are shown to be baseless, I will then concede the election, make a public apology to John Kerry and to the American public, and then I will go down in the books as the biggest fool in Presidential history. But I'd rather be a fool, for my country's sake, than a coward who did not try to protect it."

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