Tom Ross: Solar power for the people -- when I'm president

Forget the red planet, what the United States needs is a clean-burning automobile

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It is with great pride that I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.

I know, I know, many of you are thinking at this very moment, "But TR, you have never held elected office. Weren't you turned down for that vacancy on the Airport Commission? What makes you think people will vote for you to become the leader of the free world?"

I am prepared to meet that question head on, but first, allow me to speak to you about campaign contributions. Friends, put your checkbooks away. I don't want your money ... don't need it ... won't accept it. See? You like me already. Here's the deal. I don't need $40 million in my campaign war chest because I don't have to purchase expensive TV infomercials. I have this column, which allows me to reach out to the masses every Monday morning. And if each one of you reading this message today will forward my weekly column to 10 of your friends, and ask them to do the same, within four weeks, I will be reaching tens of millions of Americans with my message of hope. You'll have to trust me on this one; it's an exponential thing. "Hold on Big Tom," I can hear you saying, "We need to know right now, is you a Republican, or is you a Democrat?" And I couldn't be more pleased to tell you that I am both and refuse to run for the nomination of either party. I'm not entering any primaries, and I'm not wasting any powder days sitting in a caucus, whatever that is. And besides, I've got this column. As a matter of fact, I am a registered Republican who votes Democrat 99.9 percent of the time. However, in 2004, I am running as the candidate of the Solar Power Party, which I just created yesterday afternoon. It came to me while we were enjoying the marvelous cross country ski trails out at Catamount. We paused from our exertions to put on extra sunscreen and admire the views of a house the size of the Pepsi Center. As I was smearing the number 30 on the bridge of my nose, I was reminded of how strong the sun is at 7,000 feet, and I found myself wondering how many natural gas wells it takes to heat that vacation house while the owners are away. It occurred to me that if they can afford to build a house the size of Old Faithful Lodge on the shores of Lake Catamount, they certainly could afford to cover the south facing side of their roof with solar panels. But they didn't, and they aren't gonna, because they don't have any incentive to do it. Baby, when I take the oath of office, all of that is going to change. Allow me to present my platform. We just spent about 50 gazillion dollars to fire Saddam Hussein as CEO of Iraqi Oil. And the president wants us to spend another 90 gazillion or so to send a couple of astronauts to Mars. That's cool, I'm a fan of space exploration, but I'm thinking we have some more pressing matters to take care of at home. As president, I would have some different priorities. If we don't stop pouring so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we won't need to go to Mars because Earth will resemble Mars.

If we applied $140 gazillion to the development of alternative fuels, there just might come a day when we wouldn't have to worry about our dependency on foreign oil. We could make solar power for residential heating affordable, and we could develop more affordable and efficient automobiles. Then we could stop talking about trashing a big chunk of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We could even give up on this cockamamie idea of sinking natural gas wells up and down the North Padre Island National Seashore. I know President Bush is dying to save what's left of the great barrier island on the Gulf Coast of his adopted state of Texas. Maybe I missed it, but I haven't heard John Kerry saying a great deal about reforming energy policy either. Do you think that private jet he flies around in runs on ethanol?

General Motors already is committed to spending $1 billion to develop hydrogen fuel cell cars whose only emissions will be water. If I'm elected as president, some of the money that would have been spent on a trip to Mars will be diverted to furthering that effort among all automobile manufacturers.

I'll challenge other regions of the country to live up to Northwest Colorado's efforts to make old coal burning power plants cleaner. One of my first actions as president will be to ask Congress to replace the space race with an ambitious drive to find new technologies that will make solar power more efficient. We will begin by installing solar cells on federal buildings.

But we won't stop there. We'll create sensible tax relief to give Americans of all income brackets the help they need to shorten the return on investment for home solar panels.

Now, about that little matter of a small-town newspaper reporter becoming the leader of the free world. I definitely would have to invest in a new suit and a pair of city shoes before anyone would take my candidacy seriously. I'm weak on foreign policy, and I only got a B-plus on my political science course in constitutional law. Frankly, I'm not even certain that I come across well on television.

I admit it; I would need a lot of help to hold down the Oval Office. And that's where you come in!

Send me an e-mail describing in 50 words or less why you should be the next vice president of the United States, and I just might make you my running mate on the Solar Power ticket.

I think Routt County would make a great location for the Western White House.

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