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  This November's presidential election between John Kerry and George W. Bush stands to be one of the closest in, uh, four years, with both candidates nabbing endorsements from various publications and government officials. And, as always, religion is playing a large part in voters' decision making process, with Bush's conservative base going up against Kerry's Catholic-but-still-pro-choice agenda.

As Election Day draws near, one question looms large to many voters: If Jesus had a newspaper or held an elected office of some kind, whom would He endorse on his editorial page, or at a rally in a gray state? If Jesus were enfranchised, how would He vote?

Each candidate, throughout the course of their campaign, has taken the time to clarify his stance on the various issues that dominate the landscape. The Ten Commandments is a laundry list of all the issues that are important to God (and, presumably, Jesus), and thus, a commandment-by-commandment analysis would yield precisely the candidate for whom Jesus would cast His hypothetical ballot. Luckily, Jesus' guidelines can be found in any Christian house of worship or bedside hotel room drawer across the land.


1st Commandment: I am the Lord thy God. Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me.


John Kerry is a religious man and was an alter boy during his time at a Swiss boarding school. He purportedly carries a prayer book and rosary beads on the road with him at all times. Additionally, Kerry has said that he joined the Navy and went to Vietnam "to please God". Evidently, God is pleased by napalm and the Americanization of the Far East.


Bush was "raised Christian and recommitted himself to Christ." He has taken the time to demonstrate that throughout his administration, most notably in showing his support for keeping the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Forcing millions of school children to say "God" seems like a pretty good reinforcement of one's own faith in God.
      Advantage: BUSH, because, for now, no one mixes God and government better than George W. Bush.  



2nd Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee A Graven Image.

In addition to having the same initials, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and John Forbes Kerry have other things in common. Both come from esteemed New England families. Both are native Bostonians. Both liked to sail. After Kennedy's death in 1963, Kerry turned him into an idol, going so far as to following his footsteps as a Senator and now Democratic Presidential candidate. He even dated Jackie Kennedy's half-sister for a time. However, as Lloyd Bentsen would say, "I knew Jack Kennedy. I worked with Jack Kennedy. And I can tell you, you are no Jack Kennedy."

"I'm George W. Bush and I approve this commercial." This phrase appears at the beginning of every commercial that the Bush administration sponsors or produces. Additionally, George Bush himself appears in every single one of these advertisements. In swing states that air these ads, they can appear as many as 12 times an hour, making Bush virtually as ubiquitous as God himself. On Thursday, August 19, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" aired a segment about a rally George Bush held last week. The rally produced many hard-hitting questions and comments, including "This is the very first time I felt God was in the White House." He may not take graven images unto himself, but he's just about turned himself into one on TV.


      Advantage: KERRY. There are worse things in the world than modeling yourself after a former president. Bush may be a lot of things, but it's a pretty safe bet that he isn't God, unless God is a slim Texan with a thin-lipped smile and a supercilious mug.  



3rd Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God In Vain.


After Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, CNN caught a stage manager repeatedly screaming "Goddamn!" after a malfunction in the balloon-dropping mechanism. The stage manager completed his tirade with an expletive of the "F" variety, causing much of America to forget four days worth of speeches and focus on a swear word. No one's saying John Kerry is responsible, but he was there.


According to the Israeli publication Haaretz, Bush's justification for his War on Terror came directly from God. "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did …" (Bush allegedly said this to Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas in July 2003.) No word yet as to God's stance on Iran, but one doesn't need to be a soothsayer to read the tea leaves on this one.
      Advantage: KERRY. Although a stage manager's frustration is a compelling stuff, war is the greatest theater of blasphemy.  



4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day (Day Off) and to Keep It Holy.


John Kerry certainly enjoys his time away from his job. According to a June 23, 2004 article in the Washington Post, Kerry missed 89 percent (118 out of 132 votes) of the Senate votes in 2004 while campaigning for President. Even the day janitor of the Capitol building's first floor men's room managed to sneak 14 votes into the box. Lest it be thought that campaigning consumed all his time, Kerry managed to miss 64 percent of the 2003 Senate votes. Both are staggering numbers for a legislative body that votes more often than American Idol.


George Bush is a man who likes his rest as well. As a United States civil servant, President Bush is entitled to a half day per bi-weekly pay period or 13 days a year. According to an August 3, 2003 article in the Washington Post, including travel time, President Bush took 250 vacation days in the first two-and-a-half years (950 days) of his presidency. That works out to roughly 27 percent of his presidency. That sounds about right, judging by the lines in the post office.
      Advantage: EVEN. They both seem to take their days off very seriously, unlike the jobs they were elected to do.  



5th Commandment: Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.


After graduating Yale, John Kerry did as his father did: He volunteered for military service. Dad was an Army Air Corps test pilot in World War II. Son was a Navy swift boat commander in Vietnam.



Dubya spent years as a family outsider. He was arrested for DUI in 1976. He is rumored to have battled drug addiction in the 1970s. Additionally, he was a bad businessman, presiding over more failed business ventures throughout the 1980s than his brother, Neil "Savings and Loan" Bush. Eventually, Bush went into the family business. On January 20, 2001, he was sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States. In December 2003, he captured the guy who tried to kill his dad.


      Advantage: BUSH. Nothing says "honoring Mom and Dad" like settling old scores with ruthless Middle Eastern dictators.  



6th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Kerry served in the U.S Navy for two years, and spent four months in Vietnam. The amount of Vietcong/Vietnamese people that he killed in the line of duty is undocumented. He is against the death penalty, except for 9/11 terrorists because they should burn in hell.

In six years as governor of Texas, George Bush presided over 148 death row executions, which is pretty prolific by any actuarial table. He continues to support the death penalty and is looking for expanded latitude and expansion of crimes punishable by death, including anyone who misuses the phrase "Don't Mess With Texas."


      Advantage: KERRY. It's a close call, given all the killing, but Kerry is predominantly anti-capital punishment and that gives him this one.  



7th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.


On July 26, 1995, John Kerry married Teresa Heinz in a small ceremony on the island of Nantucket. Though separated from his first wife Julia Thorne in 1982 and subsequently divorced in 1988, Kerry, a Catholic, was not granted an annulment by the church until 1997. That's just about two full years of official adultery, not to mention the numerous affairs Kerry is rumored to have had with women of the likes of Morgan Fairchild and Patti Davis (daughter of former President Reagan) during his separation. For a man who looks like Herman Munster, Kerry does OK with the ladies.


Bush married Laura Bush (nee Welch) in 1977. They have been married for 27 years. Not the ladies' man that Kerry is, but this may be the one place that it doesn't hurt him.
      Advantage: BUSH, clearly.  



8th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Steal.


In August 2004, law student Jonathan Stein filed a complaint against John Kerry claiming that "John Kerry and the Secretary of the Senate are guilty of presenting false claims against the United States Treasury" for accepting salary for days missed in the Senate. Stein also charged that Kerry stole the hearts of some 47 percent of registered likely voters as polled by Quinnipiac University.


The 2000 election is a well-chronicled debacle on many levels. Here is the germane point: Elderly Jews love Pat Buchanan.
      Advantage: KERRY. It really depends on what the definition of steal is, but given the electoral impropriety in Florida in the 2000 election and the lack of "substantial merit" for Stein's claim as judged by the Senate Ethics Committee, it's not too hard to choose..  



9th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.


According to the book and commercial released in August 2004 by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, John Kerry is lying about his Vietnam service. With regard to his war record, Kerry is accused of deliberately misrepresenting his actions in the line of duty and filing false claims to receive citations, including those of his three Purple Hearts. Larry Thurlow, one of the men in the commercial, and Kerry each received citations for the same engagement in Vietnam. Thurlow's citation says he was under attack during the engagement, contradicting his claim that when Kerry jumped off his swift boat to save a man's life, he was not under attack. (It is worth noting that investigations by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have found the allegations made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to be, well, bullshit.) Anyway, Thurlow says one thing and his records say something else? That sounds familiar …


One of the major issues early in the campaign was the lack of records regarding the president's service in the Texas National Air Guard. Details are sketchy at best regarding Bush's service, though spokespeople for the president maintain that he has "fulfill[ed] his duties in the National Guard." Despite saying that he'd been there, the administration has yet to find one single person in a country 290 million large that says he/she remembers serving with the president. It's like saying that they can't find anyone who says they've seen Liza Minnelli drunk. It's possible, but the odds are really, really slim.
      Advantage: KERRY, until Bush produces some account of where he was during the specific months in question. National Guard offices don't just lose records.  



10th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Covet.


John Kerry and John Heinz served in the Senate together for seven years before the latter's untimely death in 1991. In the course of those seven years, it seems unlikely that John Kerry and his future wife Teresa Heinz never exchanged niceties at the office Christmas party and even less likely that they never saw each other at all. Given Kerry's aforementioned reputation as a ladies' man, the odds are better than average that Kerry thought lustful things about Heinz's wife long before they began dating in earnest.


George Bush owns 1,600 acres of land in Crawford, Tex. His family also owns a compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. And his late grandfather Prescott passed along some land in Connecticut. All told, the Bushes challenge Ted Turner for largest private landholders in the country. If George Bush is coveting property, he's certainly got very little reason. Unless we're talking about the Middle East, in which case, it's not coveting. It's "spreading Democracy."
      Advantage: BUSH, in a close one. Technically, he has spread democracy. Also, fire and war.  


Final Tally: Kerry, 5-4-1.

As Nick Bakay would say, "The numbers don't lie." If Jesus were here to cast a vote in the 2004 election, He'd be voting Democrat. Maybe the Kerry campaign can get him to claim Florida as His legal residence.

Geoff Wolinetz is an editor at Yankee Pot Roast.