Remember reading Dickens? "Bleak House" was his rather bitter stab at lawyers and the judiciary system, a long, complicated novel about a long, complicated lawsuit--Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a battle over a will, which dragged on for generations.
Lives were lived and ruined while this lawsuit stumbled on; ordinary citizens were caught up in its web and destroyed through their frustration at wanting to see justice be done.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on, Dickens wrote. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises.
Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it.
Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world.
Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.
And now here we are in Minnesota, with our own little Bleak House. Our election, like yours, was on November 4. We elected a whole string of officials, and we helped elect a president, but we have not yet elected a Senator.
That race ended in a statistical dead heat, with the sitting senator, Norm Coleman, ahead by a handful of votes. As each of the 84 election judges rechecked the numbers and sent them in to the secretary of state, that lead dwindled until, at the end of the day on Nov. 5, Coleman appeared to have won by just over 400 votes. (That lead continued to shrink over the next few days.)
This narrow margin kicked in an automatic recount. For the rest of November and into December, state officials recounted the votes. The lead went back and forth, and when it was all over, Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, came out ahead, by 225 votes. The results were certified. We appeared to have a winner.
Doug's suggestion: Let's just give our one senator, Amy Klobuchar, two votes and be done with it.