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Published: Thursday, 1/6/2005

Democrats' family feud is must-see TV

FROM THE BLADE'S WIRE SERVICES

TOLEDO, Ohio - High-ranking local Democrats here face embarrassment after an internal strategy memo became public.

The ploy was known in inner circles as Operation Sally Struthers, a reference to the party's shameless bid to tug at voters' charitable instincts.

Said newly crowned Democratic Queen Sandy Isenberg: "If we'd known this memo would be leaked, we'd have been a lot more careful with punctuation."

The document, "How To Win Friends and Influence Voters," outlined a Democratic plan to leave the local party in such shambles that "the public would have no choice but to cast 'pity votes' for party candidates."

Said one party insider: "We thought, let's just destroy everything, then wait for public sympathy. Plus, this kind of pathetic helplessness works real good for fund-raising."

Recent polls show that, after viewing photos of local Dems, 68 percent of Lucas County voters reported hearing music from Keystone Cops' movies playing in their heads. Eighty-eight percent, meanwhile, believed that Lucas County Dems are "highly likely" to wear clown costumes.

The polling data reflect a growing perception that the Democratic Party's main value is for entertainment purposes.

In a related development, married couple Bernadette and Tom Noe - both former county Republican chairmen - were hospitalized yesterday, reportedly for injuries suffered while biting deep holes in their tongues in an effort not to laugh at their political rivals.

Ms. Isenberg ascended the throne last year after a vicious, interparty palace coup. Goings-on of late suggest no end to the squabbling; most recently, it took the form of a battle over an acting county treasurer.

(We would like to give readers necessary background info, but no one at The Blade is an experienced soap-opera screenwriter. We apologize.)

At a Democratic Central Committee meeting Tuesday, the reigning Queen Dem stood by treasurer-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz. They faced off against union strongman Dennis Duffey, who won the temporary appointment until Mr. K's official term begins in September.

See? We told you it was complicated.

The plot twists and turns are so Byzantine they've attracted Hollywood. Location scouts arrive soon, readying for the fictionalized celluloid version of The Man Who Would Be Treasurer-King.

Brian Dennehy is cast as Mr. Duffey, the union honcho. Frankie Munoz has been offered the part of Wade Kapszukiewicz.

Jerry Chabler, meanwhile, will play himself; casting directors admitted choosing him after mistakenly thinking they recognized him from a nonspeaking role in Ocean's Twelve.

("Why, he's a natural!" gushed a casting agent.)

Bette Midler is rumored to be "waiting for the final script" before deciding on the complex role of Sandy Isenberg, who is well-known for her voice (mouth?), if not her singing.

The part of Jack Ford will be played by a bolster cushion.

But the role of former treasurer Ray Kest remains

uncast. As one agent said, "It's hard to find anyone in Hollywood capable of portraying such ego."



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