UPDATED - election 2008: they’re off and... driving?

Early risers who tuned to Newsworld were treated to static footage of a street, a sidewalk, then some grass and – wait, now trees. Trees!

With speculation about the election itself now resolved, the media had immediately begun speculating about other things. One of the things they speculated about was whether Stephen Harper would walk across the street or drive across the street to visit the Governor-General. According to Peter Mansbridge, the speculation was that Stephen Harper would drive. Drive? Really? Drive across the street?? It probably wouldn’t send the strongest environmental message, although to be fair it would reduce the risk of a) calf burn and b) encountering an actual Canadian.

Sure enough, a convoy emerged from 24 Sussex: two sedans, a huge SUV and a cargo van. It’s either an election call or an impromptu keg party. Alas, it’s an election call.

MORE: Harper emerges from Rideau Hall. I’m disappointed. He’s not wearing the cuddly sweater vest from his commercials. I guess that makes strategic sense – the vest renders the Prime Minister so serene, so at one with his feelings, so at peace with nature that the animals of the forest would surely flock to him, nuzzling against his leg and crowding the camera shot. And those tranquilizer darts are expensive.

Harper says this election will give Canadians the opportunity to choose between “common sense or risky experiments.” Tough call: common sense sounds appealing – but have you ever seen Weird Science? That chick was hot! Plus those nerds learned all kinds of important life lessons. So risky experiments could be the way to go here. Then again in Harper’s defence, Anthony Michael-Hall never even got to second base with the babe. How do you respond to that, Mr. Dion?

YET MORE: Stephen Harper: “I don’t see any reason to go personal or nasty with the other leaders.” All those ads belittling and emasculating Stephane Dion? Those were meant as loving jokes! Like a roast! Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Prime Minister Dean Martin!

Also: A government of “modest” spending commitments? That sound you just heard was Andrew Coyne’s head exploding. The good news is that Andrew will now be eligible for the Conservatives’ proposed new Exploded Head tax credit.

A final thought on the PM’s scrum: What the heck is wrong with the media? They left so many softball questions unasked. Why are you so great? Why is your greatness so awesome? Will you autograph my bosoms?

STILL YET MORE: Stephane Dion launches his election campaign with a speech that begins in tone and even in content with the argument advanced by Paul Martin in 2006 – never a starker choice, these Conservatives aren’t “progressive,” Harper hairpiece covers terrifying demon horns, etc. etc. I’m not smart enough to know whether this will be an effective tactic. I was unemployed enough after the 2006 election to know it didn’t work last time.

I do think, however, Dion’s launch speech was a good effort in parts – and that there was a certain power in the Liberal leader’s response to the caricature of him created by Harper’s attack ads: “That’s not me.” Liberal strategists seem to realize they need to reintroduce Dion to Canadians and tell them his “story.” But the attacks have gone unanswered for so long that it’s going to be a tough job. Potential solution: one sweater vest in Liberal red – stat!

By the way, I give Peter Mansbridge credit for pointing out on air that the media’s questioning of Dion is much more aggressive than of Harper. I’d give him even more credit if he pointed it out to his own reporters and asked them to do something about it. The way things are going, the media on Harper’s plane will by week two of the campaign be asking him to explain to Canadians why his hair smells terrific.

YET EVEN STILL MORE: Jack Layton! Don’t forget about Jack Layton! That’s not me saying that – it appears to be the primary strategic imperative of the New Democratic Party: My fellow Canadians – Jack Layton still exists! Even his podium is enlisted in the cause. It does not feature the logo of the New Democratic Party, or the party’s acronym. Instead, the podium features the words “Jack Layton.” This is in keeping with the party’s election slogan: “This guy’s name? Jack Layton.”

In his speech, Layton pledges to act on “the priorities of your kitchen table.” Finally, a political party willing to go to bat for a nice floral centerpiece and maybe some new cutlery! Jack also advocates (twice) for change that “moves us forward, not backward.” Dammit, it’s only Day One and already he’s lost the crucial “lateral movement” demographic.

YET STILL EVEN YET MORE STILL: Elizabeth May. Love the enthusiasm. Love the passion of her speech. If she’s allowed into the debates, she might just wipe the floor with the fellas. But she was a little too Earth-focused for my liking – going on about our “precious orb,” arguing that “there is no other planet we can move to.” That’s the kind of negative thinking that sours people on politicians. What exactly is so precious about this particular orb? Why can’t we move to another planet? They did it on Battlestar Galactica and it only took them four seasons. Elizabeth May: Cylon sympathizer.

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