Most vice presidential candidates don’t have a great record of accomplishment. I am proud to announce that in this regard, I belong in that admirable group.
Back in Panhandle County, I was approached on numerous occasions to run for office on the Beg-Off ticket. Using my celebrated skills, however, I was able to avoid public service. I am proud to announce that I followed the first rule for all doctors: I did no harm. Nothing that went wrong was my fault. Thus I have no need of excuses.
My critics will say, of course, that back in Panhandle County nothing went on. They will argue that if nothing went on, nothing could go wrong.
I refuse to quibble with my esteemed competitors on this point. I will say, though, that something did go on back in Panhandle County. We had our share of snake-oil salesmen, as they were called in those days. And they were active.
I am also proud as can be that I not only resisted the temptations to join those snake-oilers, I also fought them. Not, however, in the tooth-and-nail tradition. My method was subtler. I followed the tradition of my great-grandfather, Orville Slack I, of my grandfather, Orville Slack II, and of my deceased father, Orville Slack III, by learning the tricks of the beg-off trade. As a matter of fact, I am proud to remind folks that I lifted that tradition to the highest pitch.
It was this skill that emptied the churches of a Sunday morning and brought the parishioners of various denominational persuasions to my front porch, where I held forth on the evils of the snake-oil trade and did case-by-case analyses of the tricks of battling that evil vocation. This is how I made my good-got gains. Not that I made a pile: a hat on the floor can hold only so many nickels, dimes, and an occasional quarter, and I stood well within the law by owning a single hat. I still own that hat, which, like its peers, was of the ten-gallon variety.
I was poor, of course. In fact, I was tempted to hold midweek services to keep the books balanced. But seldom did I yield to that temptation. Once or twice a month, yes. Every week, no. And I did it as a public service.
The story goes that the so-called converts to my cause made periodic attempts to nominate me for sainthood. I must point out that they never succeeded. One excuse for overlooking my good works was that I was under-qualified. By this I mean that I was not a Catholic. I considered joining that denomination, but then I discovered that many Catholics attend their masses on Sunday, which was my work day. Ergo, I desisted, in deference to their piety and the good works they presumably performed. I knew Latin—that was not the problem, as my opponents have taken to say in their slanderous, snake-oil ways. I also knew logic.
“Ergo” is a Latin word. I can use it in a sentence without screwing up. Therefore, I know Latin. Also, French.