7 Fictional Characters Who Ran for Office

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Getty

While voters have long written in “protest” names like Mickey Mouse, there have been a handful of times where imaginary candidates managed to run a real campaign. Check out seven instances where exasperated voters could find comfort in a fictional alternative.

1. MR. PEANUT

William S. Burroughs endorsing Mr. Peanut. Courtesy of Vincent Trasov

The salty, dapper legume of Planters Peanuts fame threw his top hat into the Vancouver mayoral race in 1974, advocating sensible measures like hiring freezes for government jobs until the city’s population grew while simultaneously championing fluff like a lending library for umbrellas and rain boots. The man inside the makeshift peanut costume was Vincent Trasov, a performance artist who decided to use the character to explore his interests in anthropomorphism and “contemporary mythology.”

For 20 days, Trasov roamed the city, attracting news cameras and performing impromptu tap dance routines while a campaign manager detailed his peanut platform. When author William S. Burroughs visited, he became captivated by the Peanut party and threw his support behind the candidate. After the ballots were tallied, Trasov had grabbed 2685 votes, a 3.4 percent share. Though Planters probably appreciated all the free publicity, they had nothing to do with the campaign.

2. SANTA CLAUS

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If children had been allowed to vote, the 2012 election could have turned out very differently. Nevada resident Thomas O’Connor, a bishop who legally changed his name to Santa Claus and who has an uncanny likeness to that red-suited avatar for holiday cheer, ran for presidential office that year as well as 2008. Claus used his pulpit to advocate streamlining the adoption system and even met with governors across the country from 2005 to 2007 to raise awareness about how their political influence could improve the lives of kids. As a write-in candidate, Claus has no idea how many votes he received that year—the election commissions typically won’t count names that are uncertified.

3. EMPEROR PALPATINE

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The 2015 city council elections in Ukraine didn’t appear to have any restrictions when it came to galaxy of origin. A 25-year-old man won an Odessa city seat despite dressing in the flowing robes of Sith lord Emperor Palpatine and listing his job occupation as “emperor” of the “Palpatine Finance Group.” The coup is believed to be the result of an upstart “Internet Party” winning over voters with their absurdist commentary on the local political scene; a man dressed as Chewbacca was also arrested for causing a disruption at a polling station.

4. SUPER BARRIO

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An amalgamation of super hero and professional luchador, or Mexican wrestler, Super Barrio was a constant presence in Mexico’s low-income areas in the late 1980s, acting as an arbitrator for tenants who faced eviction or substandard housing conditions. The masked man decided to run for president in 1988 before withdrawing and supporting the National Democratic Front. He is potentially the only masked candidate to ever be allowed to testify in front of Mexico's Congress of the Union.

5. ZAHRA

United for Iran via Facebook

In male-dominated Iran, a graphic novel character named Zahra attempted to shake up the status quo by running for president in 2013. Backed by her creators, artists Khalil and Amir, Zahra became the first woman, real or fictional, to run for office in the country. The two said they intended to use Zahra as a way to raise awareness about human rights and to rally against restrictions on free speech. She received over 2000 virtual votes.

6. POGO

ourfinelines via eBay

The possum hero of Walt Kelly’s classic comic strip became a representative for a generation of young voters dissatisfied with Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Rebellious Harvard students incited by the Harvard Crimson pinned “I Go Pogo” buttons to their shirts and lobbied for Pogo’s legitimacy as a third-party candidate. The joke became slightly less amusing when a rally at the school turned violent: As 1600 restless spectators waited for Kelly to make an appearance endorsing his character's candidacy, they began to disconnect trolley lines, prompting police to wade in and begin swinging nightsticks. Twenty-eight pro-Pogo students were arrested.

7. CTHULHU

For voters unhappy with both major candidates in 2016, a tentacle-faced demagogue may have seemed like a reasonable alternative. Introduced in a 1928 H.P. Lovecraft story as a power-hungry beast lurking in the sunken city of R’lyeh, Cthulhu has allegedly been waiting for his opportunity to rule civilization by electoral vote. While he promises “unmentionable horror” will rain down upon his subjects, he’s also very anti-corporation and vows to promote free education in the dark arts for all. His campaign advisors, who maintain a meticulously-detailed website promoting his effort, prefer to remain semi-anonymous.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Fascinating Facts About Davy Crockett

State of Texas/Larry D. Moore Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
State of Texas/Larry D. Moore Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Born on August 17, 1786, backwoods statesman Davy Crockett's life has often been obscured by myth. Even during his lifetime, fanciful stories about his adventures transformed him into a buck-skinned superhero. And after his death, the tales kept growing taller. Here are 10 facts about Crockett that’ll separate reality from fiction.

1. Davy Crockett ran away from home at age 13.

When Crockett was 13, his father paid for him to attend a school. But just four days in, an older, bigger boy bullied him. Crockett was never one to back down from a fight. One day, he waited in a bush along the road home until evening. When the bully and his gang walked up the road, Crockett leapt from the bush and, as he later wrote in his autobiography, “set on him like a wild cat.” Terrified the schoolmaster would whip him for beating one of the boys so severely, Crockett decided to start playing hooky.

His father, John, was furious when a letter inquiring about his son's poor attendance arrived home. Grabbing a stick, he chased after Davy, who fled. The teen spent the next few years traveling from his native Tennessee to Maryland, performing odd jobs. When he eventually returned home, Crockett’s parents didn’t even recognize him at first. Following an emotional reunion, the family decided he would stick around long enough to help work off some debts. About a year later, all these were satisfied, and Crockett soon left for good.

2. Davy Crockett nearly died in a boating accident.

G.F. Nesbitt & Co., printer Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

After serving under General Andrew Jackson in the Tennessee militia, Crockett entered politics, completing two terms as a Tennessee state legislator between 1821 and 1823. After losing his seat in 1825, he chose an unlikely new profession: barrel manufacturing. The entrepreneur hired a team to cut staves (the boards with which barrels are constructed) that he planned on selling in New Orleans. Once 30,000 were prepared, Crockett and his team loaded the shipment onto a pair of flatboats and traveled down the Mississippi River. There was just one problem: The shoddy vessels proved impossible to steer. The one carrying Crockett ran into a mass of driftwood and began to capsize, with Crockett trapped below deck. His mates on the other boat pulled him out through a small opening, and a traveling merchant rescued them all the next day.

3. Davy Crockett claimed to have killed 105 bears in one year.

If his autobiography can be believed, the expert marksman and his dogs managed to kill 105 bears during a seven-month stretch from 1825 to 1826. Back then, bear flesh and pelts were highly profitable items, as were the oils yielded by their fat—and Crockett’s family often relied on ursid meat to last through the winter.

4. A successful play helped make Davy Crockett a celebrity.

Crockett ran for Congress in 1827, winning the right to represent western Tennessee. Four years later, a new show titled The Lion of the West wowed New York theatergoers. The production revolved around a fictitious Kentucky congressman named Colonel Nimrod Wildfire, whose folksy persona was clearly based on Crockett. Before long, the public grew curious about the real man behind the character, and in 1833, an unauthorized Crockett biography was published.

Sketches and Eccentricities of Colonel David Crockett of West Tennessee became a bestseller—much to its subject’s chagrin. Feeling that Sketches distorted his life’s story, the politician retaliated with an even more successful autobiography the next year.

When The Lion of the West came to Washington, Crockett finally watched the play that started it all. That night, actor David Hackett was playing Col. Wildfire. As the curtain rose, he locked eyes with Crockett. They ceremoniously bowed to each other and the crowd went wild.

5. Davy Crockett received a few rifles as political thank you gifts.

Over the course of his life, Crockett wielded plenty of firearms. Two of the most significant were named “Betsy.” Midway through his state assembly career, he received “Old Betsy,” a .40-caliber flintlock presented to him by his Lawrence county constituents in 1822 (today, it’s in the Alamo Museum in San Antonio). At some point during the 1830s, the Whig Society of Philadelphia gave Crockett a gold-and-silver-coated gun. Her name? “Fancy Betsy.”

If you’re curious, the mysterious woman after whom these weapons were christened was either his oldest sister or his second wife, Elizabeth Patton.

6. Davy Crockett put a lot of effort into maintaining his wild image.

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

For somebody who once called fashion “a thing I care mighty little about,” Crockett gave really detailed instructions to portraitists. Most likenesses, the politician complained, made him look like “a sort of cross between a clean-shirted Member of Congress and a Methodist preacher.” Before posing for John Gadsby Chapman, Crockett asked the esteemed artist to portray him rallying dogs during a bear hunt. He purchased outdoorsy props and insisted he be shown holding up his cap, ready to give “a shout that raised the whole neighborhood.”

7. Davy Crockett torpedoed his political career by speaking against Andrew Jackson’s Native American policy.

Jackson was a beloved figure in Tennessee, and Crockett’s vocal condemnation of the his 1830 Indian Removal Act didn’t win him many friends back home [PDF]. “I believed it was a wicked, unjust measure,” the congressman later asserted, “and that I should go against it, let the cost against me be what it might.” He then narrowly lost his 1831 reelection bid to William Fitzgerald, who Jackson supported. In 1833, Crockett secured a one-term congressional stint as an anti-Jacksonian, after which he bid Tennessee farewell, famously saying, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”

8. Davy Crockett really did wear a coonskin hat (sometimes).

Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett TV serial triggered a national coonskin hat craze in the 1950s. Suiting up for the title role was square-jawed Fess Parker, who was seldom seen on-camera without his trusty coonskin cap. Children adored the rustic hat and, at the peak of the show's popularity, an average of 5000 replicas were sold every day.

But did the historical Crockett own one? Yes, although we don’t know how often he actually donned it. Some historians argue that later in life, he started wearing the accessory more often to capitalize on The Lion of the West (Col. Wildfire rocked this kind of headgear). One autumn morning in 1835, the frontiersman embarked upon his journey to Texas, confident the whole Crockett clan would reunite there soon. As his daughter Matilda later recalled, he rode off while “wearing a coonskin cap.” She never saw him again.

9. There’s some debate about Davy Crockett’s fall at the Alamo.

Crockett was killed during or just after the Battle of the Alamo in 1836—but the details surrounding his death are both murky and hotly contested. An enslaved man named Joe claimed to have spotted Crockett’s body lying among a pile of slain Mexican soldiers. Suzannah Dickinson, whose husband had also perished in the melee, told a similar story, as did San Antonio mayor Francisco Ruiz.

On the flip side, The New Orleans True American and a few other newspapers reported that Crockett was actually captured and executed by General Santa Anna’s men. In 1955, more evidence apparently surfaced when a long-lost diary written by Lieutenant Colonel José Enrique de la Peña was published. The author writes of witnessing “the naturalist David Crockett” and six other Americans being presented to Santa Anna, who promptly had them killed.

Some historians dismiss the document as a forgery, but others claim it’s authentic. Since 2000, two separate forensics teams have taken the latter position [PDF].

10. During University of Tennessee sporting events, a student dressed like Davy Crockett rallies the fans.

Smokey the hound dog might get all the attention, but the school has another mascot up its sleeve. On game days, a student known simply as “the Volunteer” charges out in Crockett-esque regalia, complete with buck leather clothes, a coonskin cap, and—occasionally—a prop musket.