By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

OK. That horrible farce is Over now. Everybody can Relax and get back to sports ... unless you happen to live in Tennessee. Because when Al Gore says he "will spend some time in Tennessee, mending fences" ... well, ho ho. I would feel very nervous if I lived down the road from the Ol' Gore place in Carthage right now.

When hill people start talking about "mending fences" just after suffering a brutal public beating, they are not thinking about pounding nails into wooden posts. They are already cooking up a punishment down there tonight.

It will be more savage than the Hatfields & McCoys when the Boss gets home for the holidays. Some of his neighbors are already Doomed, and others will flee the state in a long caravan going south to Florida for Xmas. Many will have dead animals stuffed down their chimneys, or get burned out by mysterious fires. Thousands of government jobs will be terminated and fancy farms will go on the block for a dime on the dollar. That is how big-time Politics works, in the South or anywhere else. When you Cross a still-powerful Loser, you'd better leave town when you can see him coming.

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The Xmas season is always a good time to say you're leaving town, then change your mind and sneak back home like a burglar. Yes sir, it's almost time for the NFL playoffs & a frenzy of football action. No more of these rotten Politicians. We can afford to turn our backs on these swine for a moment. They will be too busy Looting & Bribing their new Connections in Washington to have time for stabbing people in the backs. They love the Christmas spirit and they don't want to ruin it. The stabbing will start in January, when it will become like the Night of the Long Knives.

Meanwhile, I have a Serious problem with the Playoffs. My Boys have Failed miserably -- the 49ers were beaten like chickens right in front of our eyes all year long. It was humiliating. I have been addicted to the 49ers for 25 years, through thick & thin. I sat through hailstorms on the wet planks of Kezar Stadium when John Brodie was getting sacked & stomped like a bird every Sunday.

I even drank beer with Dave Wilcox at a bar on Stanyan Street, right across from the Park & the Police station. Wilcox is not a Hall of Fame linebacker for nothing. He played like a wolverine on speed & had the full-field vision of a Human fly. But off the field, he was a quiet man who wore Levis & Pendleton shirts & enjoyed a cool beer now and then. He was a farm-boy from Oregon & he had little patience with pushy strangers.

I lived a few blocks from Kezar at the time -- I would park my red motorcycle at Kezar & chain it to a stand-pipe during games, or at night after antiwar rallies -- and I often ran into Dave and other 49ers in our neighborhood bar, which was called the Stadium Club, as I recall. One rainy afternoon I was in there with a friend of mine, an Ivy League lawyer who had just scored some Acid in Golden Gate park. He was also a rabid 49er fan, so when he saw Wilcox at the bar, he eagerly sat down & started babbling at him about Football & Jesus & how, quote, God put us here on this earth for purely Experimental reasons, end quote.

I tried to ignore him and so did the players -- but when the lawyer finally intruded too far into Wilcox's Personal Space, the linebacker turned quickly on his stool, seized the lawyer by his striped necktie & jerked his head straight down in a way that caused the lawyer's chin to smack down on the bar with a terrible noise that still makes me shudder.

The barroom fell silent and so did the lawyer, who staggered outside & spit little chips of bloody teeth all over the sidewalk. He could barely talk because he had bitten off a piece of his own tongue, which he picked up & took with him to the Emergency Room. ... The incident made me so nervous that I never went into the Stadium Club again, but I still admire Dave Wilcox & the lawyer still talks with a Lisp.

So, you can see why when the Good Years finally came, I figured we deserved them. I was Proud to live & die with the 49ers. I had tasted the sour wine of Defeat -- so when Joe Montana showed up & then Ronnie Lott & Jerry Rice -- I saw it as a triumph of Good Karma. My friends agreed. When our Boys finally beat Dallas, we felt we were part of a New Master Race & we behaved accordingly.

To all presidential electors:

Today is a good day for You to become RICH and FAMOUS forever, by SWITCHING YOUR VOTE to Al Gore & Reversing (again) the 2000 Election. It will make You Famous all over the World for a hell of a lot longer than 15 minutes. ... No doubt you have already been offered a personal G5 jet & the Ambassadorship to France, along with anything else you might want or Need or even capriciously Wish for. ...

There will need to be Three (3) of you, of course, but that can be easily Arranged. No Problem. We already have the Other Two. I Guarantee it. ... Hell, Freddy, you Owe it to Your Family, you owe it to your Grandchildren, You owe it to your law Firm. Yes! DO IT NOW!

We were winners. All roads led to San Francisco. And why not? It was the Cradle of Civilization. To be a Winner in San Francisco was to be a winner all over the World.

Ah, but that is another story, and we don't have time for it now. The real story is about how the Fate of some greedy half-bright Sports Team can drastically affect the Fate(s) of its Loyal lifetime Fans, including You.

And me. And Jack Nicholson. Fred Exley got mixed up with Frank Gifford, & look what happened to him. In Jack's case, it was the Lakers who make him what he is today. In my case, it was the 49ers & San Francisco that determined my Fate in life. I might have become a shepherd, or Night Manager of the famous O'Farrell theatre, if not for Joe Montana & Bill Walsh -- just as Jack might be an aging pimp in Nevada today if not for Magic Johnson.

And so much for all that. I still need a team for the Playoffs. As a gambler, I'm better off without one, but as an Addict I must have a team.

So, I have chosen the New Orleans Saints. Why not? They are 16-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl, and they still have to beat St. Louis to win the NFC West. ... unless Tampa Bay beats the Rams on Monday night, which I am betting will not happen.

Why am I betting that St. Louis will beat Tampa & thus remain tied with N.O. atop the NFC West? Because Kurt Warner will not throw four interceptions against the Bucs defense -- which is what Miami's Jay Fiedler did when the Dolphins lost by three points to the Bucs last week in a monsoon that slowed all movement by about 50 percent.

Only a 200-foot Tsunami in the Gulf of Florida will prevent the Rams' racehorse-fast receivers from getting open against Tampa Bay, and Warner will hit them in the hands nine times out of 10 -- which means the Bucs' only chance here will be if Warren Sapp cripples Warner early in the game.

So the Rams-Saints game on Xmas Eve should be a humdinger. I make it New Orleans by three or four. Yes, the Rams will lose the Xmas Eve showdown in New Orleans. Then they will be sent off to play on the road & get croaked in the snow by some goofy team like the Giants.

(Editor's Note: These are only the Dr.'s predictions. He is not taking bets on the Internet.)

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," will appear each Monday on Page 2.