Top 10 Best Things About Living in a Swing State

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Well, the presidential campaigns are finally heading into the homestretch. And in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where the all-important electoral votes could go to either candidate, that means Bush and Gore just never seem to leave — a tenacity that can prove awfully annoying. But this is a time for renewed civic hope — not heckling. And so here, to keep those spirits high, is the upside of living in the path of a political hurricane...

10. Endless coffee-and-doughnut-laden meet-and-greets means you won't have to buy breakfast again until November 7.

9. Influx of press embarrasses local government into planting those trees they've been promising for the last 15 years. Also, garbage dump coated in Astroturf.

8. Candidates' pointed generosity means waitresses at local diner become unusually cheerful, stop pouring coffee in your lap.

7. Better-than-average chance of seeing your face on the local news or in the town paper. Heck, you position yourself right and you might even end up on "Hard Copy" once the election is over (think Gennifer Flowers).

6. Thanks to myriad alcohol-laced campaign events, entire staff of local newspaper is drunk for the duration. Only happy news makes it into print.

5. After promising to improve the local economy, bolster reading scores and cut unemployment rates, both candidates are persuaded to consume embarrassingly named local delicacy/wear traditional regional pants/participate in local hog-calling event.

4. Inspired by flood of highfalutin vistors, town greasy spoons introduce new options to menus, replacing favorites like "Crispy Tuna Bake" and "This Is Not Your Mom's Meatloaf" with "Sauteed Garlic and Prawn Souffle Crowned by Delicate but Spry Wreath of Cilantro."

3. Sudden rash of street fairs, neighborhood "happenings" and other generalized demonstrations of local warmth and color. You meet your next-door neighbor of 28 years for the first time

2. Due to preponderance of armed security detail, it's momentarily safe to go running in the 80-block radius surrounding the candidates' hotel — even at three o'clock in the morning. Remember: Secret Service = Your Tax Dollars at Work

And the Number One Best Thing About Living in a Swing State:

1. After it's all over, you've got four years to move to non-swing state. Like Texas.