11/03/2008 09:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

44 Ways of Looking at the 2008 Presidential Election

To paraphrase the great political scientist Penny Lane:

Tomorrow, It's all happening.

After months of campaigning, the United States will finally have a new man in charge. You've probably made up your mind by now, but as the author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to the American Presidents, I feel it is my patriotic duty to give you a thorough guide as to how we got here.

I'm generally regarded by experts as the "people's historian" and sincerely believe that we all need to look to our Presidents past before deciding who we want to lead us into the future.

Here then is the only voting guide you'll ever need, a look at how all 43 men who have been called to as POTUS serve as spiritual guide to #44.

As noted philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat eight years of the worst Presidential days of our lives."

Or something to that effect.

1. George Washington: In 1799, George Washington made arrangements in his will for all of his slaves to be freed upon Martha's death. He also made provisions for the continued care and education of some of his former slaves, support and training for all of the children until they came of age, and continuing support for the elderly.

In 2008, 109-year-old Amanda Jones mailed in her ballot for Barack Obama. Her father was born into slavery in Texas.

2. John Adams: In 1799, John Adams stunned his own Federalist Party by going against his cabinet filled with Hamiltonian loyalists and sending diplomat William Vans Murray on a peace mission to France. An amity was reached with Napoleon and eventually a treaty was signed that kept the fledgling country out of a full-scale war and cemented a friendship with France while maintaining America's neutrality.

"Now, Senator Obama without precondition wants to sit down and negotiate with them, without preconditions. That's what he stated, again, a matter of record," John McCain, 10/07/08 Presidential debate.

3. Thomas Jefferson: "Almighty God hath created the free mind. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens ... are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion," Thomas Jefferson, excerpt from A Bill Establishing Religious Freedom.

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," Sarah Palin, June 8, 2008, Wasilla Assembly of God Church

4. James Madison: James Madison was the shortest President in history at 5'4.

John McCain would be the second shortest at 5'6. Barack Obama would be the ninth tallest at 6'1.5".

5. James Monroe: James Monroe, a two-termer who served over the "Era of Good Feelings," is the only President with a foreign capital that bares his name. He supported the colonization of free slaves outside the United States in Monrovia, Liberia.

"As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, [Barack Obama] has engaged on many African issues. He has worked to end genocide in Darfur, to pass legislation to promote stability and the holding of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to bring a war criminal to justice in Liberia and to develop a coherent strategy for stabilizing Somalia," Witney W. Schneidman, former deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration.

6. John Quincy Adams: John Quincy Adams called for federal funding of infrastructure improvements such as new canals, railways, highways and harbor refurbishment.

"Barack Obama believes that it is critically important for the United States to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure - its highways, bridges, roads, ports, air, and train systems - to strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and ensure our economy continues to grow," John McCain called for a "spending freeze" in the third debate.

7. Andrew Jackson: Andrew Jackson lived up to his inaugural pledge and wiped out the national debt in January 1835.

"During the Bush Administration, the national debt, now approaching ten trillion dollars, has nearly doubled. Next year's federal budget is projected to run a half-trillion-dollar deficit, a precipitous fall from the seven-hundred-billion-dollar surplus that was projected when Bill Clinton left office," The New Yorker 10/13/2008.

"John McCain Voted for 4 of 5 Bush/Republican budgets adding up To $9.8 Trillion in spending. McCain supported four of the five Republican-sponsored budgets that the Senate voted on from 2001-2006,"

8. Martin Van Buren: In 1839, Martin Van Buren gave the first exclusive Presidential interview to James Gordon Bennett, a reporter with the New York Herald.

"If they convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media,"
 Gov. Sarah Palin in an interview on WMAL-AM in Washington 10/31/08

9. William Henry Harrison: William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841 at the age of 68. He caught a severe cold at his inauguration one-month prior and never recovered.

Cambridge, Mass. cancer specialist John Alam estimates that Senator John McCain has a 6% risk of dying of a melanoma recurrence each year, or about 22% over four years.

10. John Tyler: On his final day in office, March 3 1845, John Tyler signed legislation admitting Florida as the 27th state.

At 1:53 a.m. on November 2, had Barack Obama leading John McCain in the Sunshine State by 2.6%.

11. James K. Polk: On James K. Polk's watch, the United States captured Mexico City in a territorial war. Public outcry called for annexing all of Mexico, but Polk showed restraint, adding only New Mexico and California, and setting a border on the Rio Grande.

"In 2006, McCain co-sponsored the bipartisan McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, also supported by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The bill would have stepped up enforcement at the border and in the workplace. It also would have expanded guest-worker programs and, most controversially, legalized millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. if they paid fines, paid back taxes and learned English," NPR 2006. A grassroots GOP effort killed the bill. In the 2008 Republican primary debates, McCain disowned the bill and said he would not vote for his own legislation.

12. Zachary Taylor: Known as "Old Rough and Ready," Zachary Taylor's only vice was chewing tobacco and he was known as an excellent marksman who could hit a spittoon from across the room.

Barack Obama is an admitted smoker.

13. Millard Fillmore: Three years after an undistinguished Presidency, Millard Fillmore ran as a candidate for the Know-Nothing movement, an anti-immigration, anti-Catholic group opposed to the Irish folks coming to America to fell the potato famine.

At the GOP convention, Sarah Palin quoted an unnamed writer who said, "We grow good people in our small towns, with honest and sincerity and dignity." Her words unwittingly came from newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler, a rabid anti-Communist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic American fascist. In 1965, Pegler's hopes for Robert Kennedy were that "some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."

14. Franklin Pierce: "Doughboy" Franklin Pierce was the only President who finished a complete term in office without making a single change in his cabinet.

Although not a cabinet member, Karl Rove served as George W. Bush's Deputy White House Chief of Staff from inauguration until August 31, 2007. It's alleged that he was behind the 2000 calls in South Carolina that helped undermind John McCain's Presidential bid by asking if voters would support McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child. The child in question was the McCain's adopted Bangladeshi orphan Bridget. In July, Rove protégé Steve Schmidt was put in charge of McCain's day-to-day operations. On September 9, The Hill reported, "Karl Rove appears to be playing a significant role in helping the Arizona Republican win the presidency."

15. James Buchanan: Led by South Carolina in 1860, seven Southern states seceded on James Buchanan's watch and began the formation of the Confederate States of America.

Two days before Election Day, showed Barack Obama with "strong" leads in two states George W. Bush carried in 2004 (IA, NM), four "lean" Obama states (VA, OH, NV, CO) and six former GOP states as "toss-ups." (FL, VA, NC, MO, MT, ND)

16. Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln served in Congress as a member of the Whig Party from 1847-49. He didn't seek re-election, in no small part because of his opposition to the Mexican War, and returned to Springfield Illinois to practice law. In 1858, Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the Senate; two years later he was President.

Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and served in the Illinois Senate in Springfield from 1997-2004, until he was elected to the United States Senate. Four years later, Obama is the Democratic nominee for President, in no small part because of his opposition to the Iraq War.

17. Andrew Johnson: Andrew Johnson was impeached in the House of Representatives. The Radical Republicans, a group that wanted a much stronger reconstruction policy, spearheaded the cause. To which Johnson said, "Let them impeach and be damned!"

On October 16, John McCain defended his selection of Sarah Palin to David Letterman, saying, ""In all due respect, one of the people I admired most was an obscure governor of a southern state called Arkansas, and he turned out to be a fairly successful president." In 1999, John McCain voted to remove Bill Clinton from office after he'd been impeached in the House of Representatives

18. Ulysses S. Grant: In 1860, Ulysses S. Grant, a failed farmer, began working as a clerk in a family-owned leather store. In April 1861, he adhered to Lincoln's call for volunteers to fight in the Civil War. He became supreme commander of all Union forces and led them to a victory in the Civil War. In 1868, Grant was elected President of the United States. In eight years he went from store clerk to President; historians generally rank Grant's years in the White House as among the worst.

Eight years ago, Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. The town's population at the time was around 5,500.

19. Rutherford B. Hayes: Rutherford B. Hayes graduated from Harvard Law in 1845. During his Presidency, he was constantly at odds with the "Solid South," a collection of Democratic members of Congress that usually voted as a bloc in the interests of white landowners and kept African-Americans subordinate in a segregated society. The "Solid South" would shift loyalties to the GOP during the Civil Rights era.

If elected, Barack Obama would be the second graduate of Harvard Law School to become President. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory," SPLC 6/11/08

20. James Garfield: James Garfield was the country's first left-handed President.

There is a group called Lefties for Obama whose slogan is "Make Obama Number 8 in '08!"

21. Chester A. Arthur: "I am but one in 55,000,000; still, in the opinion of this one-fifty-five millionth of the country's population, it would be hard to better President Arthur's administration. But don't decide till you hear from the rest," Mark Twain, 1885

"I just finished reading a book called Nixonland, and the parallels to the Nixon campaigns and McCain campaigns are just depressing. He's doing a lot of events that are supposed to be populist but are in reality completely managed. He's got a vice president who's Joe Six-Pack. The parallels just go on and on. You've got the unpopular war, economic problems, gasoline problems. Whatever goes around, comes around," Stephen King, 10/23/08

22. Grover Cleveland: Grover Cleveland fathered an illegitimate child with a widow. He acknowledged being the father and financially supported his kid. During the 1884 campaign, a dig at his situation went, "Ma, ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!"

The McCain ad "Education" claimed that Barack Obama wants kindergarteners to learn about sex before they learn to read. "It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls - a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

23. Benjamin Harrison: Known as "Kid Gloves," the ineffectual Benjamin Harrison had a cold, irascible personality. During Harrison's 1888 whistle-stop campaign, the train's engine would be fired up right after his speech so they could head out of town before the candidate had face-to-face encounters with professional voters. A famous description of Harrison's handshake is that it was "like a wilted petunia."

"[Palin's] political opponents say there was another side to the charming candidate -- one captured by her nickname from those basketball years, Sarah Barracuda.' Supporters consider the name a testament to her aggressive play and ferocious defense. But opponents said the name captured a predatory instinct that Palin could turn on friend as well as foe -- one they said occasionally revealed itself in the mayoral years to come," Anchorage Daily News, 10/23/06

24. Grover Cleveland: Grover Cleveland is the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms.

The Twenty-second Amendment prevents George W. Bush from ever serving another term. The Twelfth Amendment precludes Bush from ever being Vice President. Congressional Quarterly reports John McCain voted with Bush 90% of then time throughout his Presidency.

25. William McKinley: William McKinley was the first President to use a telephone for campaigning, calling 38 of his campaign managers from Canton before the election.

GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine asked John McCain's to halt his use of robocalls linking Barack Obama to sixties radical William Ayers. The call in question said, "You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans."

26. Theodore Roosevelt: As President, Teddy Roosevelt became the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for taking a lead role in bringing a close to the Russo-Japanese War.

In 2007, former Vice-President Al Gore and a U.N. panel won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on climate change. Gore called global warming "the greatest challenge we've ever faced." In August 2008, Sarah Palin told Newsmax, ""A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made."

27. William H. Taft: William H. Taft's years in the White House didn't amount to much, but later he served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for nine years. A buffer between the adversarial conservative majority and liberal stalwarts Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis D. Brandeis, Taft kept the court running smoothly instead of getting bogged down in partisan rhetoric.

On April 20, 2009 Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens turns 89.

28. Woodrow Wilson: Woodrow Wilson designed a "Fourteen Points" plan for rebuilding Europe after World War I and maintaining peace through a League of Nations. However, the Treaty of Versailles, which contained the Fourteen Points, was never ratified in the United States, and his beloved league was created without the United States.

John McCain has proposed a "League of Democracies" Nebraska's Republican Senator Chuck Hagel told The New Yorker, ""What is the point of the United Nations? The whole point, as anyone who has taken any history knows, was to bring all nations of the world together in some kind of imperfect body, a forum that allows all governments of the world, regardless of what kinds of government, to work through their problems--versus attacking each other and going to war. Now, in John's League of Democracies, does that mean Saudi Arabia is out? Does that mean our friend King Abdullah in Jordan is out? It would be only democracies. Well, we've got a lot of allies and relationships that are pretty important to us, and to our interests, who would be out of that club. And the way John would probably see China and Russia, they wouldn't be in it, either. So it would be an interesting Book-of-the-Month Club...But in order to solve problems you've got to have all the players at the table... How are you going to fix the problems in Pakistan, Afghanistan--the problems we've got with poverty, proliferation, terrorism, wars--when the largest segments of society in the world today are not at the table?" The New Yorker 11/03/08

29. Warren G. Harding: Throughout his life, rumors were spread that Warren G. Harding had African-American ancestry. At one point, he was even confronted in the street by his future father-in-law who publicly called him a "nigger" and threatened to kill him. In an October 26, 1921 speech, Harding said, "I want to see the time come when black men will regard themselves as full participants in the benefits and duties of American citizenship."

Throughout the campaign, rumors have spread that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. In his endorsement of Obama, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell said, "Well, the correct answer is, [Obama] is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?" Meet the Press, 10/19/08

30. Calvin Coolidge: "The chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these are moving impulses of our life..." from Foundations of the Republic by Calvin Coolidge.

"I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated," Wall Street Journal 11/26/05. Discussing economic issues at a GOP debate in November 2007, McCain said, "I might have to rely on a vice president that I select for expertise on economic issues."

31. Herbert Hoover: Herbert Hoover met future wife Lou at Stanford where she became the first woman to receive a degree in geology from the university. The couple went on to translate Georgius Agricola's De Re Metallica into English. Written in Latin in 1556, it was an astute analysis of metallurgical processes.

Sarah Palin attended five institutions of higher learning including North Idaho College and Matanuska-Susitna College in her home state of Alaska. "First Dude" Todd Palin is a 4-time champion of the 2,000-mile Tesoro Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmobile race.

32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The NAACP endorsed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936, marking a shift of the African-American vote away from the party of Lincoln and to the Democrats.

In the Pew Research Center's final pre-election poll, Barack Obama is getting 61% of the Hispanic vote. 11/02/08

33. Harry S. Truman: Harry S. Truman had this to say about red-baiting Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and his infamous list of 205 known Communists working in the State Department. McCarthy and his supporters are "chipping away our basic freedoms as insidiously and far more effectively than the Communists have ever been able to do."

"[John] McCain, who had repeatedly denounced torture under all circumstances, voted in February against a ban on the very techniques of 'enhanced interrogation' that he himself once endured in Vietnam--as long as the torturers were civilians employed by the C.I.A.," The New Yorker 10/13/08

34. Dwight Eisenhower: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist," Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell address 1/17/61

The cost of the Iraq War is closing in on $600 billion.

35. John F. Kennedy: John F. Kennedy broke with precedence by appointing his brother Robert as attorney general. Younger brother Edward would be elected to the Senate two years later.

In October 2008, John McCain's brother Joe referred to Alexandria and Arlington counties in Virginia, where they both reportedly live, as "communist country," and swore at an emergency dispatcher after calling 911 to inquire about a traffic jam. He has since left the campaign. At the Democratic convention, Edward Kennedy said, "We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn't say it's too far to get there. We shouldn't even try. Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon. Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it. And we can do it again," 8/26/08

36. Lyndon Johnson: In 1964, Lyndon Johnson enacted a tax cut that lowered the top marginal rate by 20%. It went from 91% to 71% and the gross national product rose 10% in the first year of the cut.

The gross domestic product fell .03 during the three months that ended in September 2008, the biggest three-month drop in economic activity since the third quarter of 2001. Barack Obama wants to return the marginal tax rate at the top to 39%, the level prior to the Bush tax cuts.

37. Richard Nixon: In the 1968 Presidential campaign, Richard Nixon pledged that new leadership would end the Vietnam War while making vague overtures about bringing the troops home. In 1973, peace accords ended the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. It was Nixon's second term and more than 20,000 American servicemen died between 1969-73.

"When I am president, we are going to win in Iraq and win in Afghanistan, and our troops will come home in victory and honor," John McCain at a Florida rally 10/29/08

38. Gerald Ford: A month after taking office, Gerald Ford took the bold step of pardoning Richard Nixon even though he was going against the tide of public opinion. A pardon is not an acquittal, and Ford thought it was the best way to start healing the United States after Watergate. Ford's attempt to unite the country effectively killed his Presidency before it got started.

"We believe, we believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom," Sarah Palin at a North Carolina fundraiser 10/16/08

39. Jimmy Carter: In 1994, Jimmy Carter went on a peace mission to North Korea. As an unofficial emissary, he helped negotiate an agreement in the production of nuclear weapons, which resulted in a freeze in North Korea. The framework collapsed in 2002 under the Bush administration and North Korea was put into the "axis of evil." Recently, however, Bush lifted economic sanctions against North Korea and took the country off the terrorist watchlist in the belief that engagement could lead to nuclear disarmament.

John McCain co-authored an opinion article with Sen. Joe Lieberman in which he called for a return to Bush's original demand of a complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament of North Korea's nuclear programs.

40. Ronald Reagan: Ronald Reagan submitted the first $1-trillion budget for fiscal year 1988.

George W. Bush submitted the first $3-trillion budget for fiscal year 2008. John McCain has promised to reign in spending by eliminating wasteful earmarks. The OMB put the earmark figure in 2008 appropriations bills at $16.9 billion, a large chunk of which goes to the Army Core of Engineers and construction for military families.

41. George Bush: Operation Desert Storm was launched on January 17, 1991 under George Bush Sr. with four weeks of aerial strikes. On February 28, a ceasefire was announced after Iraq accepted all 12 of the United Nations resolutions. Saddam Hussein remained in power and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney later said it wasn't worth American lives to go after him.

The Iraq War began on March 19, 2003. The announcement of Saddam Hussein's capture came on December 14, 2003. There have been roughly 4,200 U.S. casualties in Iraq and more than 30,000 wounded.

42. Bill Clinton: In 1998, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison famously described Bill Clinton as America's "first black President."

In January 2008, Toni Morrison endorsed Barack Obama, but made no mention as to whether she considers him, if elected, to be the first or second African-American in the White House.

43. George W. Bush: On October 13 2008, ABC News reported that George W. Bush's approval rating had dropped to 23%, one point from the lowest in the 70 years of polling.

On November 1 2008, Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed the McCain/Plain ticket. "If you ever had any doubt that John McCain would continue George Bush's policies -- you can put those to rest. Just today, Vice President Cheney came out and endorsed John McCain. Do we need any more proof? I'm not surprised. Dick Cheney has been wrong on everything else the last eight years. He's on a roll," Joe Biden at a rally in Bowling Green Ohio 11/1/08

44. ???: On October 30 2008, LeBron James hosted a free concert in support of Barack Obama. Rapper Jay-Z told the crowd, "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk, and Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama is running so we all can fly, so let's fly."

After all that, I do believe it is time for this idiot to fly.