Tales from the election mire

’Twas election time for tailless amphibians in the Mystical North Swamp. Or, rather, elections were a year away but the fiercely partisan toads and frogs couldn’t wait to begin spewing slime-coated muckwads at fellow quagmire dwellers.

In his cozy home, Ted Toad leaned forward in his Barcalounger, TV remote in foreleg, warty skin red with fury.

“Damn frogs are all the same,” he sputtered. “We’re being invaded by alien amphibians from other swamps, and they don’t give a flying …”

“Calm down, Ted,” said Ted’s partner, Tommy. He hobbled up behind Ted and rubbed his rough-skinned shoulders. “I don’t know why you get so worked up about politics. Can I get you another martini?”

“Worked up? I’m not worked up. It’s just the absurd frog-controlled media. All we ever hear about are the fantastic frogs and the terrible toads. The swamp’s in deep trouble—Terrorists! Immigrants! Socialized health care!—and all we see on TV is front-running toads bickering over whether Jesus and Satan were brothers!”

“You wouldn’t vote for a Mormon toad, would you?” Tommy asked. “Or a Baptist preacher toad?”

“I’d vote for a Mormon or Baptist preacher toad before I’d vote for a frog,” Ted said. “Frogs are dumb, dangerous and bad spellers. I’d vote for any toad over any frog—especially that bulging-eyed, smooth-skinned, cluster-egg-laying female. Just because you were once married to the Top Frog doesn’t qualify you to run the swamp.”

Tommy could feel his parotoid glands swelling.

“I couldn’t vote for any amphibian who doesn’t support our right to be together as toad and husband!” Tommy said, voice shaking. He stormed off, leaving Ted fuming at CNN.

After a long day at work, Frieda Frog surfed the Net while her little ones hopped around near her webbed feet. After reading her favorite frog-wing blogs, she visited two or three campaign websites. She humphed in despair.”Humph,” Frieda said. “I’m in despair. Not one frog fits me. Perhaps they support health care reform and wouldn’t threaten my reproductive rights. But none seem committed to withdrawing our amphibian forces, who are illegally trespassing in other swamps. Except for Dennis, who’s a small frog in a big pond.”

To lighten her mood, she watched a spoof campaign video on YouTube: “Our toad has the familiest of values! He’s not weird or a cross-dresser or made of plastic.”

Frieda laughed.

“Mommy, why do frogs hate toads?” her daughter asked, darting her sticky tongue at a passing fly.

“Oh sweetie, hate is such a harsh word,” Frieda said. “We don’t hate toads. We just realize that the toad way of life is small-minded, greedy and mean. Toads view the world with fear. And that makes them dumb, dangerous and bad spellers.”

“But Mommy, you like Mr. Tommy and Mr. Ted—and they’re toads.”

“That’s different, sweetie. They are our neighbors. And believe me, you don’t want to get Mr. Ted started on politics.”

Frieda gave her daughter a warm, loving smile.

“By the time that cute little tadpole tail disappears, you’ll understand.”

In a 40,000-square-foot climate- controlled castle on the edge of the swamp, a warm-blooded creature perched on a Microfiber throne. He peered into a bank of plasma screens that depicted the goings on in every corner of the swamp.

For decades he’d been charged with a social engineering project—promoting frogs, then toads into positions of power. To avert amphibious uprisings, he’d kept swamp denizens handily divided through mutual disgust, disrespect and strategically placed misspellings.

Today his efforts would come to fruition. He heard the growl of the approaching bulldozer. Leaping to the window, he waved at the driver who’d come to flatten the swamp for the building of a new mall and multiplex theater.