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REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS would have you believe that invalid ballots, like the ones double-punched in Palm Beach, are as commonplace as law-abiding gun owners. But consider this: In order to punch both the Gore and Buchanan holes, a voter's stylus would have had to enter and exit at angles only the most skilled stylus-user could achieve. A single retiree, acting alone, would have had to punch both holes in less than three minutes to escape notice, a near-impossible feat.

Here are several alternative theories gaining currency among America’s most eagle-eyed political observers, the paranoid fringe.

The Mind Control Theory

In a series of top-secret experiments, a former director of the CIA (codename "Herbert") dosed thousands of unwitting Florida civilians with mind-control drugs including LSD, MDMA and Fox News. The subjects were manipulated into performing a series of irrational, if not insane acts, such as voting for Pat Buchanan.

The Miami Fraud Machine Theory
This election is covered with the fingerprints of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the powerful duo behind resurgent Cuban-American activism, the Elian appeals process and "Words Get in the Way." When asked about the Democrats’ chances last month, Emilio Estefan cryptically replied, "The rhythm is gonna get them."

The Bermuda Triangle Theory
Did you know that there is a long history of both ocean-going vessels and aircraft getting lost forever in the Bermuda Triangle? So did George W. Bush. That's why he lured 30,000 elderly black Floridians onto a flying saucer and ordered its pilot to head east.

The Elian Factor Theory
Vice President Gore’s flip-flop on the Elian issue angered the Cuban community and all the dolphins that protected the boy from sharks. Enraged Delphinus delphis and Tursiops truncatuse spirited their boy-king from Havana, distracted the Coast Guard by posing as mermaids and then slipped ashore in Palm Beach. There, the aquatic mammals used their bottlenoses to poke extra holes in approximately 19,000 ballots.

The Dead People on the Rolls Theory
Officials have long joked that, like Chicago in 1960, a lot of dead people tend to vote in central Florida. Only this time it was literally true, as the ghost of Mel Carnahan rallied the dead to rise from their graves and ward off the Republican threat. As the walking dead possess poor motor skills, they tended to vote mistakenly for Buchanan.

Sleight-of-Hand Theory
While the nation was focusing its attention on one part of Florida, thousands of sleight-of-hand magicians were messing everything up in another part of Florida. Then the reverse. Want to know how they did it? Here, they'll do it again, this time more slowly.

The Jeb Bush Theory
Many years ago in a highly guarded Texas facility, Florida Governor Jeb Bush was ejected from the vaginal canal of one Barbara Bush, better known as the mother of George W. Bush, Republican candidate for president. Coincidence? Not if former President George Herbert Walker Bush's semen has anything to say about it.

The Boys from Buchanan Theory
Inside the cranium of "Ezola Foster" is the still-beating brain of Adolf Hitler.

The Skull and Bones Theory
When George W. Bush was a member of the Skull and Bones society, he declared to his fellow Skulls: "It is very important to me to be a major success by the time I am 55." Decades later, Bush campaigned extremely hard and did his very best to win the election.

More Election Chaos 2000

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