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Scary things out there this political season

Forget the “scientific” polls that have been keeping tabs on theclose presidential race. The truest indicator of what is likely tohappen on election day is emerging from — of all places –Wisconsin.

That’s right. A man in the land of cheese thinks he has the bestline on who’s going to be the country’s next big cheese. (For therecord, Al Gore has yet to claim, at least to my knowledge,inventing either Wisconsin or cheese.)

Anyway, the man in the know is Jalem Getz, founder ofBuyCostumes.com, a Waukesha-based seller of costumes. According toGetz, the winner of every presidential election for nearly threedecades has been foretold by sales of rubber masks of thecandidates.

”Based on the records since 1972, they have been right on everytime,” said Getz in an Associated Press story. His company hascompiled sales totals from past election years from five maskmanufacturers and 12 costume stores nationwide.

If Getz is correct again this election year, the national pollsthat show a difference of only a few points between Democrat AlGore and Republican George W. Bush are off — way off.

So far this Halloween season, sales of Bush masks lead those ofGore masks 57 percent to 43 percent.

Some other mask sellers don’t agree with Getz. They think therace is closer.

In North Carolina, a state Bush is expected to win, sales of hismasks have been more sluggish, according to the AP report.

”Bush is probably a few points ahead but not by very much,”said Hoke Carle of Morris Costumes in Charlotte, N.C.

There was no indication if the Ralph Nader mask might be pullingsome votes away from the Gore mask.

Carlen also told the AP that mask sales are a good indicator ofpresidential campaigns going back to at least the 1976 election,when Jimmy Carter masks outsold those of Gerald Ford.

Another costume seller believes masks tell more about Americansthan their political preferences.

Jeff Campbell, owner of the Joke Shop in Waukesha, said thesales offer insight into the American political psyche.

”The JFK mask is a terrible seller,” Campbell said. ”Maybethey are looking at it as making fun of someone who wasassassinated and someone who the country holds in highesteem.”

Even with the election less than two weeks away, neither Bushnor Gore can overcome the lead of former President RichardNixon.

This Halloween season, as has been the case for many seasons,the Nixon mask is the top seller.

”People love to do the simple imitation of ‘I am not acrook,”’ Campbell said.

No word on what comes in second on the mask and imitation list,but my guess would be Bill Clinton and his infamous, ‘I did nothave se . . . “

You know the one I mean.

The most realistic mask I’ve seen so far this Halloween seasonis the Paula Jones mask. Larry King had a demonstration of it onhis show the other night.

Actually, it’s more like a talking head, and I believe it comeswith directions on how to get 15 more minutes of fame.

Also included are some lame excuses for posing naked in a nastymagazine.

This one is really scary.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, send faxes to 833-6714, or e-mail to nlaster@telepak.net.She’d love to hear from you.