Monday, February 21, 2011

Morris didn't fare much worse than Louie Youngkeit


This is a photo card from Morris the Cat's tongue-in-check campaign for United States president in 1988. Morris, the advertising mascot for 9Lives, has had an interesting "career" that has included multiple runs for president and movie appearances, including his 1973 film debut in "The Long Goodbye" alongside Elliott Gould1.

If you're interested in more on Morris' 1988 presidential campaign, here's a great entry on it from Love Meow, a blog for cat lovers.

But that's not where I'm going with today's entry.

I was scanning the complete 1988 election results to see who finished in front Morris the Cat. Of course, there was winner George H.W. Bush and runner-up Michael Dukakis.

And you probably remember the higher-profile third-party candidates, including Ron Paul, Lenora Fulani, David Duke and Lyndon LaRouche.

Further down in the results were the candidates from the Workers League, the Peace & Freedom Party, the Prohibition Party and the American Party.

And, below even them, there is the man who came in next-to-last2 with 372 votes for president in 1988.

Louie Youngkeit. Independent.

Who is Louie Youngkeit?

That's a darn fine question.3 Actually, it should be framed: Who was Louie Youngkeit (right)? According to the Our Campaigns website, he was a Utah resident who was born in 1936, died in 2003 and ran for U.S. president at least three times as an independent.

And then there's this tantalizing tidbit, provided by Our Campaign user Gishot:
Youngkeit -- a rather eccentric candidate -- claims he is "the Heir Apparent of the [late billionaire] Howard R. Hughes' Estate." You see, Hughes was secretly murdered in 1970 -- and his body was frozen for several years until his death was announced in 1976 -- and JFK was assassinated in 1963 because of Hughes's money -- and it was also the reason for the Watergate break-in -- and President Bush and Hillary Clinton are part of the scheming -- all that and lots more can be found in Youngkeit's conspiracy theory (see his website for more details).

Whoa.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any traces of Youngkeit's potentially electrifying website. I'm guessing the plug was pulled on it rather quickly after his 2003 death.

I did find a 1996 Wall Street Journal article on third-party presidential candidates by James Taranto. Most likely, it was the source of the aforementioned Our Campaign bio entry. Here's the lede of Taranto's article:

LONG BEACH, Calif.--Life on Mars? Having attended Sunday's convention for Ross Perot's Reform Party, I'm prepared to believe there's life on Neptune.

"I'm hoping that Perot will name me his vice president," Louie Youngkeit tells me outside the Long Beach Convention Center. Anything's possible, but Mr. Youngkeit's only qualification seems to be his obsession with Howard Hughes. He hands me a monograph he and his mother wrote in 1978, which claims that in 1949 Mr. Youngkeit's father looked after Hughes's car for a few days and allowed Hughes to drill an oil well on his property. In repayment for these kindnesses, the monograph says, Hughes promised to leave half his estate to the younger Mr. Youngkeit. When Hughes died in 1976, Mr. Youngkeit, to his dismay, was not named in the will. The monograph draws the obvious conclusion: Someone altered the will after Hughes's death. "This is the reason JFK was assassinated," Mr. Youngkeit adds, inexplicably.

I ask him how he'd vote if Mr. Perot weren't running. For Bob Dole, he replies. He opposes President Clinton because "Hillary was involved with Watergate, and that has to do with Howard Hughes. All the break-ins--they were looking for Howard Hughes's will."

So, basically, Louie Youngkeit was a Melvin Dummar wannabe.

And he ran for president. A lot.

Isn't this country fascinating?4

Footnotes
1. OK, this is weird. I was just thinking the other day that my goal for my winter beard is to have it look like Sterling Hayden's beard (left) in that brilliant Robert Altman film.
2. Finishing last, according to this website, was the Third World Assembly ticket of presidential candidate John Martin and vice presidential candidate Cleveland Sparrow. They garnered 236 votes, placing them 136 votes behind Youngkeit.
3. A better question might be: Who are the 371 other people who voted for him?
4. And for the final conspiracy-theory cherry on the top of this entry, check out the January 2008 archive of B. Merkley's "Stay Loose Blog". The Jan. 7 entry mentions Melvin Dummar, and the Jan. 8 entry mentions a "Louie Youngkeit". It is (until now) the only hit on Google for a web page the mentions both Dummar and Youngkeit.

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