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Iraqis Reject New Constitution in Favor of Pat Buchanan
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BAGHDAD, Iraq - By nightfall Saturday election workers in Iraq had counted the millions of paper ballots cast in the war-weary nation's constitutional referendum. Though an immediate recount was demanded, it is clear that the new constitution has been overwhelmingly rejected in favor of "Pat Buchanan". Though not an election, and despite Mr. Buchanan's name never having been mentioned before, apparently the remaining butterfly ballots from the U.S. 2000 presidential election were used in Iraq. "The U.S. offered, and the United Nations said it would help us to save some money," said Fareed Ayar, a spokesman for Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission, "But it is clear now that it was a grave error."

"It is our hope that reason will prevail here."
-- United Nations official, Carina Perelli
"In retrospect, sure, it wasn't the best move," admitted United Nations' top elections official, Carina Perelli, "At the very least, we should have verified that all the names had been whited-out. I think an honest evaluation would show that anyone that mistakenly voted 'Buchanan' was almost surely trying to vote 'yes' for the constitution. It is our hope that reason will prevail here."

A White House spokesman said President Bush -- who has seen public support for his Iraq policy waver in recent months -- was "pleased to hear that Iraqis turned out in large numbers to freely express their views on this historic day. We can be sure that however the people think they have voted, the truth will be decided shortly, in the best interests of the Iraqi people."

A majority 'No' vote against the constitution would be a serious blow to Iraq's political evolution since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam in 2003. The transitional assembly would be dissolved and the process of writing a constitution would have to start over after a new assembly is elected in December. The effect of a majority 'Buchanan' vote has not been predicted, but admitted one analyst, "It would certainly have been better to not have the question come up at all."

Said Pat Buchanan when questioned about the election, "When I took one look at an English translation of that ballot, it's very easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they were voting for the new constitution."
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