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It's over? Already? That's no fun. What about the recounts? What about the lawsuits? Where are the dueling protesters, the dueling pundits, the dueling courts issuing dueling rulings?

After 18 months of fevered campaigning, it's all over in one lousy day -- well, a lousy day and a half. It's so retro, so 20th century. Come on, candidates, this is a new millennium and voters were spoiled by the election of 2000, when the excitement continued for 36 fun-filled days.

Ah, those were the days -- and days and days and days.

Everything is settled now. But back in 2000, the fun was just cranking up. You remember it: Al Gore conceded defeat, then un-conceded, telling George Bush, "Don't get snippy!" A mob of angry old people -- many hobbling on canes or sitting in wheelchairs -- clogged the streets of West Palm Beach to protest the infamous "butterfly ballot," which was so confusing it caused elderly liberal Jews to vote for Pat Buchanan by accident.

Ah, the butterfly ballot! It brings back memories, doesn't it?

Remember the wonderful scenes of Florida election officials holding ballots up to the light, going cross-eyed as they looked for chads in all their infinite varieties: hanging chads, swinging chads, bent chads and pregnant chads?

Remember the big yellow Ryder truck that carried Palm Beach County's ballots 450 miles to a court in Tallahassee, accompanied by a police escort and news helicopters that showed its progress live to cable news junkies nationwide?

Remember Katherine Harris, who served simultaneously as Florida's top election official and co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the state?

Then there was the Miami-Dade election board, which voted not to conduct a recount, then voted to conduct a recount, then voted to stop the recount in the middle. Hollywood's best writers couldn't make that stuff up.

And the angry mob that pounded on the walls outside the room where the Miami-Dade election officials were conducting their recount, screaming: "Stop the count! Stop the fraud!" They looked like garden-variety thugs, but they turned out to be hotshot Republican Hill staffers.

An angry mob of upscale Republicans -- that's the kind of wonderful post-election entertainment we got back in 2000.

But this year . . . pfffft! This post-election is a total bust. No recounts, no lawyers, no chads, no cartoons. No nothing. The guy who came in second simply quits, explaining that because he got fewer votes, he lost. Sure, that may be technically true, but where's the fun in that?

When you think about what could have been, you weep. Ten days of Buckeye bureaucrats counting more than 100,000 Ohio provisional ballots as the world watches. Lawyers swarming into the state, suing and countersuing. Protesters screaming at one another in the streets.

But, alas, it's not to be. The election is over. That killjoy John Kerry has pulled the plug, and now political junkies are going through cold turkey, waiting for the 2008 campaign to begin, which probably won't happen for, oh, at least two more weeks. Darn it, it's just not right.

Peter Carlson is a Washington Post reporter.

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