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Tuesday, November 9, 2004
The pain of losing

By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2

Well, the election is over now, and I was pitifully wrong on my public prediction about the outcome. George W. Bush won handily; and my friend, John Kerry, lost by three percentage points -- which was every bit as big in a vicious presidential election as it was on the football field last night when the low-riding Indianapolis Colts kicked a last-second field goal to beat Minnesota 31-28.

That field goal was just as good for the Colts as if they'd won by three touchdowns. Three points is huge in a football game that goes down to the last snap of the ball on the last play of the game.

Unfortunately, I bet the Colts heavily to win by seven points -- and they only won by three -- so I was wrong again, and I paid a terrible price. First the presidency, then the point-spread on Monday night. Indeed. Gambling was not a happy experience for me last week.

But so what? I lost, but I am not a Loser. I have long understood that losing always comes with the territory when you wander into the gambling business, just as getting crippled for life is an acceptable risk in the linebacker business. They both are extremely violent sports, and pain is part of the bargain. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Mahalo.

Right after the Colts finally won last night, I called team owner Jim Irsay to congratulate him on his fine victory, even though he failed to make the spread.

"That was too close for comfort," I told him. "What's wrong with that kick-off coverage? It cost us 10 points last night; and if Randy Moss had been playing, forget about the Super Bowl."

Which is true. No team with the worst pass defense in the NFL has ever even been to a Super Bowl, much less win the game. That is a basic truth of Quantum Science in America ... And here is how it works in football situations.

The Indianapolis Colts are giving up almost 26 points a game so far, and that leakage is not likely to change a hell of a lot between now and Groundhog Day -- which indicates, by quantum extrapolation, that the Colts are a mathematical certainty not to go to the Super Bowl this year. They are doomed, because their defensive backfield leaks like a cheap rowboat -- especially against a big, mobile quarterback like the Vikes' Daunte Culpepper, who is bigger than any of the Colts' linebackers.

That is usually fatal in the NFL, where 300-pound people with three-percent body fat routinely run a 40-yard dash in less than five seconds. It's like having a vicious bull elephant that can run 40 miles an hour.

And so much for football wisdom, eh? Let's get back to the presidential election, which also caused enormous pain and grief to millions of people.

I am no stranger to the anguish of losing a presidential campaign, and this very narrow loss with John Kerry is no exception. It hurt, as always, but it didn't hurt as much as that horrible beating we took with George McGovern in 1972. That was by 22 points, the worst defeat in any presidential campaign since George Washington ran for a second term in 1787.

And the winner that year was a conquering hero named Richard Nixon, who got whacked out of office two years later because he was a crook. We had a very angry Democratic majority in the Senate that year, which is not the case now.

No. Today, the Panzer-like Bush machine controls all three branches of our federal government, the first time that has happened since Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. And that makes it just about impossible to mount any kind of Congressional investigation of a firmly-entrenched president like George Bush.

The time has come to get deeply into Football. It is the only thing we have left that ain't fixed. And more on that next week.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears regularly on Page 2.