Book Review: PIZZA FOR PRESIDENT by Brian R. Lee

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Pete Pachentelli is manager of a local Pepe Le Pizza restaurant.

He and two friends, Sam and Curley, are at his house on a day off, watching football on TV.

Political ads break in too often.

“If these candidates really want to get elected, they should offer a free pizza to every voter,” Curley jokes. “Everybody likes pizza, so they’d have everybody on their side.” Silence, as the game continues.

Then Pete speaks up. “You might have something there.”

“What?”

“I’m going to look into it,” Pete says. “If I can get the pizza chain I work for to give me a super discount on a million pizzas, I’m going to run for president”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Susan is majoring in political science at school. I can talk to her about it.”

“You don’t mind if your girlfriend laughs in your face?”

But poli sci class has never been very interesting, and most of Susan’s classmates take the attitude “what the heck, if free pizza is involved, I’m in!” Professor Jones, seeing the enthusiasm the idea is getting, tells the class, “All right, if you can get Sue’s boyfriend’s name on our state’s ballot in the upcoming election, I’ll give everyone an ‘A’. If you fail, everyone gets an ‘F’ factored into their semester’s grade.”

“Uh, Mr. Jones, where do we start? What paperwork will we need?”

“This is your campaign. Do I ever give you the answers to your assignments? These are things you are going to have find out on your own.” And the professor walked out of the room.

Whether everyone in the country likes pizza or not, Every student in the class wants

to get an “A”. The next day, Susan talks it over with Pete. They both understand that Pete will never be elected president of the USA, but Professor Jones’s assignment is only to get Pete on the state ballot. Pete finally tells her, “You know what? I’ve never really done anything special my whole life. I would rather tell my kids I once ran for president, than tell them I could have but chickened out. What do I do to get started?”

Susan has done her homework; she gives him the forms to complete. The class will get all the signatures needed.

Pete gets an unexpected boost from an inspection visit from the pizza company’s central office. The inspector warmly approves Pete’s sales record and methods, and asks what else Pete needs from headquarters. “I have a potential customer who may want a very large number of pizzas for an event – maybe ten thousand or more. Could the company provide that many?” The inspector believes someone is pulling Pete’s leg, but says he’ll find out. “Have your guy call me.”

Pete knows little about political issues, “but I shouldn’t have to look smart to make the other candidates look dumb. Is free pizza any dumber than cutting taxes while raising benefits?” With Susan as campaign manager and one of her classmates as financial chairman, the project copes with local TV interviews and news reporters. That is, until national public TV and the Republican leadership get into the act.

The Republican party doesn’t want Pete on stage as one of their debate panel, and that situation delights the national Democrats.

Pepe Le Pizza’s CEO likes the publicity Pete’s campaign is winning his company.

Pete sees the debate as an opportunity to present his philosophy: gathering opponents around food – pizza for instance – creates opportunity for settling disputes and promoting harmony; He brings a supersize pizza to share with the others on stage, but someone whips it out of sight.

The moderator asks Pete only one question during the debate; the Democrats accuse the Republicans with a plot to sideline him. Actually the audience gives him a more favorable rating than a rookie might expect, though not enough to make him a serious contender for the Republican nomination.

His campaign committee, (the college students) propose a public rally. What! speeches? The thought terrifies Pete.

Author Brian R. Lee has a fertile imagination, producing a thought-provoking and credible finale to this entertaining tale.

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