Twain for president?
People who’ve spent any time in Nevada know the state is full of ghosts. Lead spiritualist is Mugwump McAvoy Layne, who’s made a name for himself for his Mark Twain impressions, taking the show to schools, the A&E channel and bookstores with his book, Hooked on Twain.
What made you want to be Mark Twain?
I had all these white suits hanging in my closet, and disco was dead, so what was left except to become Mark Twain?
When did you begin?
I remember exactly. My son was born between shows at Piper’s Opera House, and I ran into the delivery room at Washoe Med dressed in the white suit with the white hair and the nurse looked up and said, “You must be the grandfather.” That was the summer of ‘88.
I understand you are running for president.
I’m throwing my hat in the ring. Porky’s is going to be our campaign headquarters because our agenda is full of pork and because they have a foosball table, so if an argument breaks out, we can settle it right there.
How did you decide upon the Mugwump party?
I was a Mugwump in 1884. I did switch from the Republican Party to Grover Cleveland. Jim Blaine was running for the Republicans back then. The peace of mind and spiritual comfort that I have gained from political independence is beyond price. So Mugwumps we are. You might say I’m a theoretical socialist and a practical aristocrat.
I’ll type it exactly as you say it, but what does it mean?
It means I fall somewhere between a compassionate Republican and a fiscally responsible Democrat.
That sounds like Clinton.
Somewhere right in there, you might say. We want to be a little different than the other two parties. You know Cain has been branded so unanimously as a murderer because he was neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
Do you see George W. Bush as a threat to your candidacy?
No really. Our motto is “Anyone but Wolfowitz.” It’s not Bush running the White House, it’s Wolfowitz.
How do you feel about Kerry?
When Kerry was young, he did not wear diapers. Even today, he is almost impossible to pin down. That’s his problem. And Nader, I do have an ego, but I can get in and out of the house with mine.
Tell me a little about your platform.
One popular controversial subject right now is “Under God.” Here we are, struggling along as a nation, trying to live by religion and religious tenets hammered out 2,000 years ago, and yet, we’ll say “Nay” to a treaty we hammered out only 30 years ago, the ABM Treaty, because it no longer holds up in these times. I say we keep the “Under God” in there and allow people to exercise their proxy, so they can say, “One nation under the Wolf Pack,” or they could say “One nation under Mark Twain.”
Will you accept public funding in your run for president?
We will not accept donations nor will we accept public funding. If someone is compelled to send a donation, I would ask that they send it to the Mark Twain Project, www.twain2004.com, at the University of California, the Bancroft Library, where they are still doing work on Mark Twain.
By press time, McAvoy Layne had withdrawn his candidacy.
“That was the shortest campaign on record,” Layne said. “We announced on Monday and endorsed Kerry on Friday. We were locked out of our first official rally—Porky’s had some plumbing problems. That was a sign, I think. We had a lot of interest, but I could see we would never get on the ballot.”