By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2

Sean Penn called me last night and said he was quitting the movie business until after the football season.

"I am going on the road with Brett Favre and the boys," he said. "The Packers will kick ass this year, and I want to be part of it. I love Brett Favre."

His voice sounded strange, so I goaded him.

"The football season has been cancelled this year. The White House just announced it."

"No!" he shouted. "That's impossible! Football season will never be canceled in America -- not in an election year. There would be riots."

"Exactly," I replied. "Horrible riots every Sunday afternoon, in cities all over the country. Football fans will go crazy. I already feel the Fear."

It's true, but not because of our football season being canceled. No. We must have football. What would this country be without football in October?

That is a dangerous question, so I try not to worry. Only an imbecile would alienate every football freak in the country at a time like this.

Brett Favre
What would we do without Brett Favre and NFL football this fall?

It would be political suicide.

Would the President do a thing like that?

Who knows for sure? He is already muttering about "postponing" the whole election, and that is almost as ugly as canceling a football season.

These rumors are dark and disturbing, especially for a football addict in July. Take my word for it, because I am a certified addict. It makes me feel crazy on some days, and this is one of them.

I am a football addict, and I am not alone in this country. We are legion, and we must have football ... Yes. It is righteous, and only a jackass would cancel it.

Election years are always weird in America, and they always happen in football season. That is a fact of life. The President will always be elected on the first Tuesday in November, for good or ill, and not even Richard Nixon could change it. He hated anything that stood between him and a Green Bay Packers game, especially on Monday nights.

Nixon was a bad loser. He hated losing worse than death, and that is why I enjoyed him. We were both football fans, both addicts; and on some days, nothing else mattered.

But that was yesterday, and George Bush is now.

Where is Richard Nixon, now that we need him? He was crooked in every way and his hands were covered with blood -- but he was a rabid, high-rolling football fan with a sly taste for gin; and on some nights, he could be good company.

"Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness; Modern History from the Sports Desk" is a collection of Hunter S. Thompson's columns from Page 2, available August 11 from Simon & Schuster. You can preorder your copy here.
Ah, but we live in a new century now, and the president is not a football fan. The first real game of the season will be a huge event for most of us; but for young George Bush, it will mean nothing. He will feel no relief, no escape from the same sense of doom that fell on his father, only 12 years ago. The old man failed when he tried to get re-elected, and so will his son. They both peaked too soon, about six months before football season; and after that, they sank like punctured fish.

So the time has come to get busy on what we call "the summer book" in the business of gambling on presidential elections. And right now the London/Vegas numbers are about 51-49 percent for Bush, if only because he is the filthy-rich incumbent and the son of a global oil-industry magnate.

That is big in the politics business; but this year, it will not be enough to make up for all the wretched, disastrous failures of the Bush administration. Betting on George Bush to win this coming election would be like betting the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

My own whim at the moment says that John Kerry will win big in November, and that the Colts will finally win the Super Bowl. Why not? This is the year of the monkey, and George Bush will be lucky to get out of Washington without being put on trial for treason.

Yes sir, we are coming around to some bold visions now, but my time is running out. Next week, I will tell you what happens in America if Kerry loses this election, along with the current odds on whether there will be an election this year. Okay. Mahalo.

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.