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2:17 am EDT        60°F (16°C) in Coopersville, MI

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The great truck nightmare is now over. As of this past Monday night, I have been in a new truck — in fact, this one is so new it only has 43,000 miles on the odometer. It is a 2004 model, meaning that unlike the older trucks I've previously had, it has an engine with EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) technology. Car aficionados may scoff, "what's the big deal, cars have had EGR for 30 years," but the technology has never been applied in large-truck diesel engines until recently. EGR was the method chosen by most large-diesel manufacturers to meet EPA pollutant regulations that took effect October 1, 2002; all engines built after that date must meet those standards.

The forces of good triumphed over the forces of evil in the United States Senate on Tuesday. The Senate spent Monday and Tuesday debating the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment"; late Tuesday, the vote was taken, and the Wacko Satanic Righties couldn't even get a majority, much less the 67 votes required to pass the Senate stage of the constitutional-amendment process. Of course, Bush had to go and shoot his mouth off afterwards, saying, "I'm deeply disappointed that the Senate couldn't make the hatred of my big-bucks donors the law of the land." (OK, I'll admit to making most of that up, but you goddamn well know I speak the truth.)

The Wacko Satanic Righties, and their Repub-a-dub-dub enablers, can't seem to get enough of making themselves look like the utterly depraved, un-Christian idiots they are. I've known for a long time that the vast majority of their arguments consist of "strawman" or "slippery slope" logical fallacies, but some of the arguments I heard advanced this week are even more delusional than I thought humanly possible. Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) and Rick Satan-torum (R-Pennsylvania) tried to advance the argument that marriage would be destroyed by giving its legal rights to gay and lesbian couples. (As if straights like Britney Spears haven't obliterated marriage already.) "There is a master plan out there by those who want to destroy the sacred institution of marriage," said Allard in true McCarthyist fashion. (My Lord, how paranoid can you possibly get? People with one-tenth that level of paranoia are routinely locked up.) "We keep hearing that marriage is evil, marriage is hate, marriage is a stain," blubbered Santorum. (Say what????? Even if anybody in their right mind believed that to be true, any evil or stain has been created by those who have already destroyed marriage as we know it.)

Don't get me wrong, I can maintain a modicum of respect for those who don't necessarily agree with the concept of gay marriage. There are some people with whom it's best to agree to disagree. However, mere uncertainty about or discomfort with the idea of gay marriage is a FAR, FAR cry from the Satan-inspired bullshit that a tiny minority (though they do constitute a majority of the Republican Party) is trying to force down everybody's throats.

I said it here in February, and I'll say it again: The legal and financial rights and responsibilities that currently comprise the civil aspect of marriage are rightfully ours, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and these rights will be fought for until they are won on a permanent nationwide basis. I do not care what such a relationship is called, so long as every single legal right is part and parcel thereof. (In fact, polls indicate that while a slight majority of Americans oppose "gay marriage," almost two-thirds of Americans support a legal status that grants all of the same rights without using the word "marriage." I find it bewildering that we can be caught up in something as trite as semantics, but if it's such a big issue, then by all means, give it another name.) At the same time, the Wacko Satanic Righties are guaranteed their First Amendment right to refuse to perform religious marriages for us, continue to hate us, condemn us, and pray (in vain, of course) that God will "convert" us; however, they are not entitled to create a Taliban-style theocracy in the United States. (Believe me, they're trying to do just that, and they're closer to that goal than a lot of people realize.)

In all seriousness, I am starting to wonder if the day won't come where I will be forced by this crap to move to Canada or Europe. While the United States, the supposed "beacon of freedom" and avatar of human rights, moves ever closer to becoming a Third World fundamentalist "Christian" theocracy, Canada and much of western Europe are moving forward with social justice and equal freedom for all. Who knows, maybe that old high-school French will come in handy, n'est-ce pas?

Bedtime approaches. It looks like I'm running a load into Ohio, then heading back home for my day in bankruptcy court next week.