“On a cool February day in 1932, little Teddy Kennedy was born. Later that night, the baby’s father, Joe, leaned over the bassinet and kissed his new son. Because of that kiss, Ted’s cheeks still, to this day, display visible remnants of Gloria Swanson’s lipstick.”

– Kennedy family urban legend

Over 70 years later – through family tragedy, a couple of wives, a tour of duty in the Chivas navy, an attempt at the presidency, and now support of John Kerry’s attempt to defeat Bush, Ted Kennedy is still going strong.

Kennedy is now in his seventh term in the Senate, making him the second-longest-serving active senator – the longest-serving, if you happen to catch the Senate on a day when Robert Byrd has gone away to dedicate another building to himself or to have one of his old Kleagle hats blocked.

If you’ve listened to Ted Kennedy’s latest introductions of John Kerry at campaign rallies, you may have been reminded of a composite of every bottle dwelling bar babbler you’ve ever been stuck sitting next to at one o’clock in the morning. When that happens, you keep an eye on your wife, a hand on your wallet, and take what they say with a grain of margarita salt.

Such is Kennedy’s plea to get us to vote for John Kerry – a series of verbal endorsements that could gain more steam if Ted didn’t always sound like Boris Yeltsin trying to recite the alphabet backward. If Ted’s on the wagon, it must have carried him straight to the liquor cabinet, because when he gets riled up, his speeches make you wish Foster Brooks were still around to interpret.

Trying to figure out what Kennedy is saying at a campaign rally often makes me appreciative of the skills of Timmy from “Lassie.” Where’s Jon Provost when you need him?

“Ahnd ahftah muthna hahve olll crompushnin Johhhnn…”

“What is it, boy? Kerry needs our vote?”

“Nithmish nahd caheforea jah Kreee!”

“Bush must not be re-elected or there will be global Armageddon? Good boy!”

In addition to the occasionally comical slurry harangues, Ted can be absolutely shameless. When Kennedy is endorsing Kerry, he isn’t even shy about touting the fact that Kerry once saved somebody from drowning – this statement often causes more uneasiness and suppressed giggles in the room than the time Marilyn Monroe crawled out from under the podium after a JFK press conference.

Statements like this are the most telling symptom of Kennedy’s ivory tower induced moral myopia. Ted Kennedy, without batting an eye, can proudly laud a colleague for saving someone from drowning? This takes some serious nerve – right up there with Lizzy Borden praising the skillful hatchet work of Paul Bunyan.

Joe Kennedy had a daughter lobotomized, and, judging from the incongruous comments uttered by his son, he apparently forced Ted to undergo several compunction bypass procedures.

Ted’s even got a dog that he named “Splash.” I often wonder if he ever lets Splash get together with Joe Hazelwood’s dog – “Slick” – for a nice game of Frisbee at “Irony Park.”

After the unintentional humor, the lies start to flow. Now Kennedy is calling the Iraq fight “George Bush’s Vietnam.”

Democrats like Kennedy have spent the better part of the last few years telling people that Bush avoided Vietnam service by hiding behind his father’s money and power. Using their false portrayal, if this were indeed “Bush’s Vietnam,” then, at the very most, the only current military operation we’d be engaged in would be a gallant struggle by the Texas Air National Guard to find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Ann Richards’ living room.

Kennedy can’t be blamed much for getting his facts mixed up a bit when it concerns the Vietnam era. Kerry was serving overseas, Bush was serving domestically and Kennedy was dripping wet in a Martha’s Vineyard bait shop, desperately rummaging through tackle boxes to figure out which spinner would work the best to hook an Oldsmobile.

The real reason for Kennedy’s extreme dislike of George W. Bush isn’t as political as much as it is insane jealously.

Ted sees many of his blown opportunities and dashed hopes being fulfilled by the son of a high-powered, financially successful businessman and politician. In other words, he sees himself – minus the beer gut, garbled pep talks, dead date, left leanings, exhausted nephews and, ultimately, occupancy of the Oval Office.

The big problem John Kerry is facing is that hardly anybody is really endorsing him – they’re endorsing the removal of George W. Bush, as is the case with Kennedy. At least, I think that’s what Ted’s saying.

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