Mr. Straight Talk Triumphs

As the Democrats became the party of states' rights, Republicans pushed the federal courts to intervene and George W. Bush broke out in a boil, I wondered what was next - would it rain frogs?

No, just a mild heart attack for Dick Cheney.

That's a scare that goes past politics - and I'm thankful he's all right.

But in this strangest of elections as we watch oddities pile on irony, let us consider perhaps the greatest irony of all.

Once the election is settled, who will be the most powerful man in Washington?

It won't be Bush or Al Gore, but here's a clue: Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott can't stand him - and Bush didn't want him on the ticket.

And the answer is: John McCain.

He came away from his unsuccessful presidential run with a national following, and surveys show he's the Senate's most recognized and liked senator - which spells power.

There's more: No one person is more responsible for Republicans holding their slim majority in the House than McCain, who campaigned non-stop for countless Republican House members who had tough races.

They owe more to McCain than their own leaders, and McCain will have great influence among them.

In a Senate that could be split 50-50 among Republicans and Democrats, it's even simpler. Whether it's a Democratic or Republican initiative, McCain will be the swing vote.

Don't expect much, but whatever gets done over the next four years will carry McCain's blessing.

Somebody - we don't know who - will be President. But the big winner this year was John McCain.

©2000, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved