The Guide to the 2012 Election

Looking for which candidate's economic beliefs are best suited to the present day? Wondering who's better suited to take office should the next president become incapacitated? Well, you've come to the wrong place.

Romney and Obama cookies. (Ben.Newell/Flickr)
Presidential election 2012 Mitt Romney Barack Obama politics

The Irrelevant Guide to the 2012 Election

The next President of the United States will be chosen on November 6, barring any paper-hole mishaps, voting-process sabotage, or similar election-malfunction-type stuff. Whatever you consider yourself—Republican, Democrat, Independent, or beluga whale—the election is an important thing by virtue of you living in America. Even if you live in a beaver sanctuary in northern Minnesota and subsist on tree-bark and pigeon feathers, your life is shaped by whoever’s living in the White House.

However, your life is not shaped by how many rushing yards Joe Biden gained in high school, how many catfish Paul Ryan has stuck his entire arm down the throats of, how devastating President Obama considers his crossover, or how many owners of NASCAR teams Mitt Romney is friends with. Still, that all seems like it might be interesting, and if it’s not, then it’s not and that’s your thing.

So, we looked at all the candidates, presidential and vice-, and compiled a collection of their own words on anything sports-, exercise-, and outdoors-related. We did not speak to any of them. These interviews are not real, but the quotes are. Yes, not all of this is in context, but these are all words that’ve been strung together in book or verbal form by candidates Biden, Obama, Romney, and Ryan at some point in time.

If you don’t know who you’re voting for—and unless you were just born today as an 18-year-old baby, how do you not know already?—do not use this as a guide. If you do, thanks! But just don’t, OK? You’ve probably got your beliefs and thoughts and opinions on who should be elected, and that’s great. That’s how it should be. Democracy! But if you want to throw all of that aside for a second and find out who Joe Biden thinks the world’s best athletes are, then read on.

U! S! A! U! S! A! *waves limp stick of beef jerky*

: Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Presidential election 2012 politics republican vice president
Paul Ryan. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Paul Ryan likes to do things. In addition to running for vice president and being a Congressman from Wisconsin, he seemingly works out a lot and spends a bunch of time in and around nature. (Apparently, he had to choose between professional skiing and a career in government.) So put Randian theory, hollow economic-reform plans, lack of concern for the poor and the elderly, and whatever your feelings are toward those things aside just for a few minutes.

Take a look at this photo. Then, take a deep breath, drink some water, and CHECK OUT THOSE ARMS. No, not the way his arms are crossed (which, yes, may in fact suggest that he also listens to DMX; his iPod ends with a band called “Zeppelin” and “D” comes before “Z,” so, it’s possible, if not probable) but just at his actual arms. Those are muscles, and they’re muscles because Paul Ryan likes to work out a lot. The degree of success with which Ryan actually completes certain exercises is maybe up for debate between Ryan and the rest of Planet Earth, but the fact that he regularly exercises is just that: a fact.

He even made fun of an NPR reporter one morning in a Pittsburgh hotel workout room while getting his P90X on. Yes, Ryan was exercising in a baseball cap while indoors, which I don’t really understand, but whatever. He does stuff—and that doing of stuff, that stuff is being done, is not something that’s—politics-term warning!—up for debate.

He’s been described as a “hunting-obsessed gym rat,” but how would Ryan describe himself?
I’m just a kind of workout guy.”

And what made him a “kind of workout guy?”
(My father) died of a heart attack at 55, my grandfather died of a heart attack at 57, my great-grandfather died of heart attack at 59, so I'm into the health thing."

What workouts does he do?
P90x and Insanity.”

Why P90X?
I asked him ('him' being a 'Navy SEAL buddy' of Ryan’s) ‘How on earth do you stay in shape and hang with those younger guys?’ [He] said P90X.”

And how does P90X work?
It works because—it’s called muscle confusion. It hits your body in many different ways: pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups, lots of cardio, karate, jump training, yoga. So what it does is it pushes your body in many different ways so that it gets out of its plateau. I was actually a fitness trainer. I had three jobs when I came out of college and one of ‘em was a fitness trainer. What people get into is an exercise plateau, when you do the same thing every day. Your body gets used to it, so this gets you out of that plateau. I keep my body fat between six and eight percent.”

Any celebrities ever come work out?
Tony Horton the creator of [P90X] comes and works out with us every few months.”

So, enough about P90X and gym-rat stuff. What else does the VP candidate do to stay active?
I’m just pretty typical for a Wisconsin guy. I love hunting and fishing. Bowhunting is my passion. Studying the strategy, preparing food plots, the strategy of where a dominant buck is living or will be moving and then being in position to get a shot, that’s really exciting. Half of it is getting ready for the shot.”

Does he have any particular “hunting goals?”
I don’t know if I'll ever be able to try, but one of my goals is to get a grand slam of sheep with a bow. It would be very tough and very expensive. But I’d love to do some of those great western hunts for sheep and deer.”

Is he interested in any other animal-procuring outdoor activities?
I’m going to go out with some of my Okie friends, and I’m going to do something that I’ve been doing for a number of years, and that’s called noodling catfish.”

Noodling catfish?
They come up on your hand, and you just squeeze wherever you are in that fish and pull it out. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s really exhilarating.”

And last: does Ryan have any specific vices?
I have two cups of coffee every morning.”

: Joe Biden

Joe Biden vice president democrat Presidential election 2012 politics
Joe Biden. (isafmedia/Flickr)

There is an imaginary test for humanity: if you don’t smile at this picture of Joe Biden, you are not alive. At least, you are not a being with human emotions. You might be a robot or an alien or a bag of tape recorders, but human you are probably not. All of which is to say, politics aside, that Joe Biden seems like a likable person—always smiling, generally bumbling, often cursing.

Which is to also say that, politics aside, Joe Biden doesn’t matter. Politics aside, Joe Biden doesn’t exist as a person whose picture with a biker-woman on his lap, flanked by two shocked/aghast/etc. biker-men, means anything outside of “why is this guy hanging out with these people?” Putting politics aside when considering Joe Biden is maybe kind of foolish, but that’s also exactly what we’re about to do.

So, forget about that time the VP lifted quotes for a presidential-campaign speech, ignore the role he played in ramping up the Drug War, disregard anything he’s said about chains or gazelles or “big fucking deals,” and just focus on Joe Biden, the active human being.

The vice president has never, it seems, gone on record about his exercising exploits—unlike his Republican counterpart who actually just told a pile of dirty tube socks that he did 50 pushups before he ate breakfast (egg whites, lean pheasant bacon)—but aides and staff members have said that he maintains a consistent regimen of biking, running, and weight-lifting.

But what about when he was younger?
As much as I lacked confidence in my ability to communicate verbally, I always had confidence in my athletic ability. Sports was as natural to me as speaking was unnatural. And sports turned out to be my ticket to acceptance—and more. I wasn’t easily intimidated in a game, so even when I stuttered, I was always the kid who said, ‘Give me the ball.’”

Biden? Lacking confidence to communicate verbally?
A lot of people thought they called me Dash because of football. I was fast, and I scored my share of touchdowns. But the guys at an all-boys Catholic school usually didn’t give you nicknames to make you feel better about yourself. They didn’t call me Dash because of what I could do on the football field; they called me Dash because of what I could not do in the classroom. I talked like Morse code. Dot-dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dash.”

Did he play any basketball?
Obama played basketball. I played football.”

OK, what position?
I was a running back. Half the time my nose was in that grass.”

So, he wasn’t very good, then?
I was the leading scorer on our undefeated and untied football team my senior year, and I didn’t lack for confidence on the field. I still wanted the ball.”

Oh, wow. I didn’t know “leading scorer” was a football term, but still.
Like a lot of teenagers, I had a pair of outlandish Walter Mitty-esque daydreams that filled my head in high school. One was to play professional football.”

But that was just a dream. He’s Veep now, so that must’ve stopped when he went to college?
I started my first year of college a little too interested in football and meeting new girls. There were a lot of new girls to meet.”

Hmm, I wonder if he was any opinion regarding cheerleaders?
Guess what, the cheerleaders in college are the best athletes in college. You think, I’m joking. They’re almost all gymnasts. The stuff they do on hard wood, it blows my mind.”

OK, well the football dream ended at some point? I mean, the dude’s second in line to be POTUS at this exact moment.
I’m vice president, and let me tell you, I’d trade it all to go back and play my senior year again.”

Wow, I wonder what does he does for fun?
My idea of Saturday fun was to jump in the Corvette with Neilia (his first wife) and drive around the Wilmington area scouting open houses, houses for sale, land where we could build.”

A corvette? I wonder if he’s seen those Onion stories about him?
I saw the one of me washing a Trans Am automobile in a driveway, shirtless and with tattoos all over myself. By the way, I have a ’67 Corvette and not a Trans Am.”

: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Presidential election 2012 republican politics
Mitt Romney. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Not much is known about Mitt Romney except just that—that we know we don’t really know anything about him. Is he an extraterrestrial? Machine? A loaf of bread disguised as a venture capitalist? The anthropomorphization of a 100-dollar-bill, a rotary phone, and a piece of undercooked salmon? Who knows? Well, no one.

But we do know that Mitt Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. And we also recently came to know that he is the proprietor of something called the Romney Olympics. Losing a competition of hammering nails straight—they must be straight—into a piece of recently-chopped wood devastated the Republican candidate for president. Oh, and he also ran this one time.

Anyway, Mitt Romney may not have a tax plan that could ever conceivably work as presented under the restrictions of things like “math” and “logic,” and he may have dismissed three-percent-less-than-half of the country as not worth his time. Or you might not believe any of that, which is fine, but for our purposes none of that is necessarily important.

Mitt Romney is running for president of the United States—and he actually looks pretty good for a 65-year-old, doesn’t he? By virtue of that, here is some information regarding his active lifestyle, attempts to stay healthy, and predilection for taking the lives of medium-to-small sized critters.

We know his running mate likes to hunt. What about Mitt?
I must admit. I guess I enjoy the sport and when I get invited I'm delighted to be able to go hunting."

What kind of hunting?
I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.”

I will.
I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.”

Has Paul Ryan made him try out P90X?
You know, I have never tried that. I might have [him] show me how to do it someday.” 

So, how does he stay in shape, then?
You know, I get on the elliptical or the treadmill or stationary bike about 40 minutes and that’s about it for me.” 

I also know that he was involved with the Olympics. Didn’t he—
I am not an Olympic athlete.”

OK?
But for all of us who organized the Olympic Winter Games of 2002, the experience was as compressed, as demanding, and often as revealing as any test or competition I could imagine.”

Well, he must’ve dealt with a bunch of sponsors then, right?
Over the years I began to associate Coke with all sorts of things I like: smiling young people, sports, music, the Olympics, and recently, polar bears. Those associations make me ‘feel good’ about Coke, a lot better than I do about RC Cola (are you still out there RC?). So when I pick up a 12-pack at the grocery store or step up to a soft drink machine, I’ll push the Coke button (of course caffeine free, Mom) even if it costs a little more.” 

Yeah, polar bears are pretty great. But I wonder what the Olympics are all about for a guy like Romney?
It’s all about sport.”

Wait, what?
"Ted Williams famously said that the hardest thing to do in sport is hit a baseball, and in my experience, the hardest thing to do in business is to hit a home run with a new business."

Sport? What the hell is he talking about?
I met a guy yesterday who is 7 feet tall, tall, handsome, great big guy, 7 feet tall, name is Rick Miller, Portland, Oregon. He started a business, of course, you know it was in basketball, but it wasn’t in basketball, I mean I figured he had to be in sport, but he wasn’t in sport, his business is caring for seniors, senior centers and nursing homes and other types of care facilities.”

OK, um, well, what sport does (I don’t know) he enjoy?
I can tell you I love waterskiing. I continue to waterski, and even though I’m not the best in the family that I used to be, I’m still pretty darn good.”

Any other loves of sport?
Ice skating? Oh boy, did I love the ice skating.”

Does he have any friends in sport?
I got a lot of good friends—the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, both owners are friends of mine.” 

Um, anyone else?
I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”

OK, any favorite sport teams?
I grew up in Michigan, so the Michigan teams have always placed a big part of my sports interest.”

What about sport(s) in Massachusetts?
We Bay Staters joke that politics is blood sport in Massachusetts.”

: President Obama

Barack Obama Presidential election 2012 democrat politics
President Obama. (Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons)

If you have not yet seen the president of the United States without his shirt on, take some time to do so. Here he is in 2008. And here’s a shot of him earlier this year. Being able to glance (legally) at a shirtless POTUS is one of the many wonders of being alive in the year 2012.

Now, this is not true at all. Looking at the president not wearing a shirt is weird. Imagine Chester Arthur witho—OK, no, don’t do that. But imagine imagining that and you’ll understand the point without the visceral nightmare-shock. And that’s not a fair comparison because one: it was a different time, and two: (maybe also because it was a different time) President Obama is in way better shape.

Now, some have called the Obamas—there is a DVD called Totally Toned Arms: Get Michelle’s Arms in 21 Days—something similar to Stalin’s Soviet Union in their insistence on physical fitness among cabinet members and among Americans in general, especially children. And sure, dislike the President for the reasons you dislike him—like, drone strikes, secret-murders of American citizens, turning Pakistan into a living, robot-plane hell, or anything else that fits your personal purview—but criticizing him for stressing “health” among our society is pretty much the same thing as criticizing him for not punching every senior citizen in the face, one by one.

So, how often does POTUS work out?
"Most of my workouts have to come before my day starts. There's always a trade-off between sleep and working out. Usually I get in about 45 minutes, six days a week. I'll lift one day, do cardio the next.” 

Is 45 minutes enough?
I wish I was getting a 90-minute workout.”

But Libya, the Economy with a capital E, unemployment, JOBS, gas prices, China, and everything else—and JOBS. Why even work out?
"You have to exercise, or at some point you'll just break down."

Rumor has it—this has never actually been documented, I don’t believe—that the President is also an avid basketball enthusiast.
My crossover is solid.”

Really? Even at 51 years old?
What happens is, as I get older, the chances I’m going to play well go down. When I was 30 there was, like, a one-in-two chance. By the time I was 40 it was more like one in three or one in four.”

How often does he play?
These days I probably play once every two to three weeks, not as often as I’d like.”

Don’t the people he plays with, you know, want him to have a good game since he’s the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD or whatever?
Nobody ever lets me win because if you let me win, you’ll never hear the end of it. I’ll talk a little trash about you. I’ll make you feel bad about yourself if we beat you real bad.”

How is he under pressure? And from long range?
Somebody just handed me a ball and said, ‘Come on, Mr. President, take a shot.’ And I said, OK, and I shot it and swished it from the 3-point line. And the amount of excitement that those folks had was surprising to me.”

What about on the golf course? Everyone cheats at golf!
I am very proud of the fact I do not cheat when I’m playing golf. Anybody who plays with me, they’ll say I count my strokes. I count my strokes. I don’t — I’m not getting five-foot gimme putts.”

Hm, OK. I wonder if he’s ever bowled before?
You know, my bowling has greatly improved. Marv, you’re touching on a slightly sensitive point.”

Marv? I’m not Marv. What? That’s not who I am.
You know what? That’s not who we [emphasis not his] are.”

Um, OK? Well, he must’ve played baseball, since it’s AMERICA’S pastime, and he’s the president of AMERICA.
I am a big baseball fan. I didn’t play organized baseball.”

He’s a fan of the White Sox, I think, and not the Cubs. Why is that?
I do think that there’s a different quality to what used to be Comniskey Field.” 

What? Doesn’t he mean “Comiskey Field?” I'm pretty sure he threw out a first pitch there.
It is about the most stressful thing.”

So...
It clears the plate but it’s not what you’d like. During practice, you’re throwing heat."

Speaking of heat, what’s the deal with the cigarettes?
Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes.”

I wonder ho—
Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.”

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