Columns » Bob Lancaster

A test for them



Now that they're in, they want to make it harder for you to vote them out. So they're proposing all kinds of obstacles and restrictions. If you're a college student, an old-timer, a person of the minority persuasion, they want to make voting such a hassle for you that you'll leave it with them.

They aim to hamper voter registration efforts. They want to cage you if you don't fit the profile. Inconvenience you getting to and from the polls. Make you show photo IDs. Burden you with affidavits and depositions. Require you to pass qualifying tests.

Here's an idea. Make them pass a test. They can't get on the ballot if they flunk. Have to go back and take remedial classes. Passing the test would show they know as much about American history and American government as a fencepost does. But make it easier for them — an Obama-worthy concession — by making it multiple choice. And they could squeak by with a D-minus.

Here are a few sample questions I've worked up. I don't think they're too hard, but if they are, maybe we can get Louis Gohmert or Justice Thomas to dumb them down to the contemporary average.


Near what Civil War battlefield did Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address? (a) Gettysburg, (b) Some other battlefield besides Gettysburg, (c) No, Michelle, think about this one now, (d) Gettysburg, (e) Gettysburg.

Fill in the blank, "Give me liberty or give me _____."  (a) squirrels, (b) a flesh wound, (c) a copy of "The Fountainhead," (d) refutiation, (e) Velveeta.

The Shot Heard Round the World was (a) Jed Clampett shooting at some food, (b) Burr shooting Hamilton in the duel, (c) Ernest Hemingway shooting himself, (d) J.R. Ewing getting his,  (e) the one in New Hampshire that started the Revolutionary War.

Finish the quotation. Gen. Phil Sheridan said, "The only good Indian is _____." (a) Tonto, (b) Little Beaver, (c) a dead Indian, (d) Mahatma Gandhi, (e) Noc-A-Homa.

Where does it say that the government should promote the general welfare? (a)  the Communist Manifesto, (b) the Socialism Handbook, (c) the Democrat Party platform, (d) on MSNBC, (e) in something called the Preamble, which means "walking around beforehand."

Who wrote the Federalist Papers? (a) Hamilton, Madison, and John Jay, (b) Masterson, Kelley, and Wally Hall, (c) Peter, Paul, and Mary (Travers), (c) Dan Brown, (d) John Grisham, (e) Dewey, Cheatem, and (Irving) Howe.

A current presidential aspirant names John Quincy Adams as one of the Founding Fathers. Who among these greats was also an American Founder? (a) Goose Tatum, (b) Joe Garagiola, (c) Gen. Tom Thumb, (d) Hank Snow, (e) Petroleum V. Nasby.

After Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, he yelled some Latin words. What did those words mean approximately? (a) Feets don't fail me now, (b) They'll have to pry it from my cold dead hand, (c) Which way to the egress?, (d) My bad, (e) Rut Row.

Henry Clay (or perhaps it was Clay Henry) said which of the following? (a) "I'd rather be right than president," (b) "I'd rather be kicked in the nads with a hobnailed boot than president," (c) "I'd rather be married to Orly Tate than president," (d) "I'd rather go bird-hunting with Dick Cheney than president," (e) "I'd rather have spelling vegetables as my category and Dan Quayle as my lifeline than president."

Which of the following is neither a movie cowboy nor someone you'd particularly want to brag about being from your same hometown? (a) John Wayne, (b) John Wayne Gacy. (You get two guesses here.)

When young George Washington was asked who chopped down the cherry tree, what was his reply? (a) "I cannot tell a lie," (b) "Some guy," (c) "I am not a crook," (d) "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is," (e)    "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

When JFK said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," what the hell was he talking about? (a) Marilyn Monroe, (b) Vietnam, (c) the same thing GWB was talking about when he said "Heckuva job, Brownie," (d) the Olympics, (e) the Jackie Wilson standard "Lonely Teardrops,"

Fill in the blank. "Millions for defense but not one cent for _____." (a) entitlements, (b) infrastructure, (c) disaster relief, (d) family planning, (e) stem-cell research, (f) hungry children, (g) any of the above.

Which candidate said the office of vice president isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss? (a) the same one who introduced himself to voters by saying "Who am I? What am I doing here?" (b) the same one who told TV viewers, "Never mind that man killing the turkey in the picture beind me," (c) the same one who promised to put the quietus on nattering nabobs of negativism, (d) the same one who was given to telling detractors to go bleep themselves, (e) the same one who was so short a footman once mistook him for a lawn jockey.

That ewer of warm urine is often prestidigitated by the delicate-eared into a bucket of warm spit, and the quote is sometimes misattributed to (f) Harry Truman or (g) Lyndon Johnson. Sounds more like Truman to me. The correct answer, of course, is (h). 

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