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Former Oklahoma congressman becomes mass communuicator

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For those of you who might remember that faint impression of gubernatorial candidates past, we've got Ernest Istook.

"Ernie" is these days a distinguished fella at The Heritage Foundation, hosting a satellite radio show and churning out opinion papers regarding the state of policy in Washington, D.C. According to him, the Democrat-run halls of power are all in a very bad state.

It's one of his recent papers that really caught our attention. It was titled: "Could 2010 Census Include Make-Believe People?" It's about, of all things, statistical counting.

Yeah, we know. We can see the rallies forming right now. Screaming bands of 103 people carrying signs with "Pi" on them, marching in the streets. Spreadsheets burning in effigy. Calculators flung at the feet of Lady Liberty.

Anyway, what Ernie's carping about is the rumor that the U.S. Census Bureau might use statistical sampling methods to make the census head count, similar to how polling companies like Gallup survey people for opinion.

The idea is that the U.S. Census is huge, ponderous and ends up being inaccurate because counting every head within the nation's boundaries is a daunting, and ultimately unachievable, task. Yet, we base our population numbers on the census data to determine which parts of the country gain a congressional seat, or lose one. Important stuff, actually.

Bottom line: Ernie doesn't want to use polling methods; he wants the head count the way God intended. Eeeny, meeny, miny, moe.

In fact, so daunting is the crisis that Ernie invokes the name of the original Big Brother himself!

"With its impact on dozens of Congressional seats, the Electoral College, and the allocation of billions in taxpayer dollars, the possibility of sampling demands attention. The potential for political tampering and manipulation is too huge to ignore, whether those in power have pure intentions or Machiavellian intent," Ernie said in his May 13 essay for the Beltway think tank.

"As Joseph Stalin said, 'Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.' And so could those who count the voters."

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