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It’s Deja Vu all over again.

Despite long lines at the polls that extended well into the night, Iranian election officials declared that current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won reelection in a landslide only hours after the polls closed, carrying not only 2/3rds of the vote in a race pollsters said was a dead heat, but even winning his opponent’s (Mousavi) hometown of Tabriz with more than 60% of the vote (sorry, but even Mondale won his home state in his 49-1 loss to Reagan in 1984).

Iran proudly proclaimed a “record turnout” of over 35 million voters (84% of 46 million eligible) casting their ballot in the highly contested election Friday night. Iran has no electronic voting machines, so every vote must be counted by hand. Despite this, the election was called for Ahmadinejad less than two hours after polls closed.

Why does this all seem so familiar? People waiting in long lines well into the night just to vote for the status quo? I don’t think so. Even if you started counting ballots within minutes of them being cast, you’re still not going to count 35 million ballots by hand in the same day.

Ahmadinejad is a relic of The Bush Era, who rose to power in response to George W’s invasion of neighboring Iraq, labeling Iran part of “The Axis of Evil”, and saber-rattling over the possibility of an invasion if they didn’t cease their nuclear program. Enter crazy, belligerent Islamic hardliner Ahmadinejad. A man for which there is ample evidence was one of the U.S. Embassy hostage-takers during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (“We’ll meet your extremist, militant religious zealot Bush and raise you an anti-Semite.”) Ahmadinejad was a product of The Bush Doctrine (recommended reading for Sarah Palin.) But even though Bush is now gone, Iran is going to be slow to trust Obama as long as troops remain in neighboring Iraq. Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who campaigned on stronger ties to the West and answering U.S. President Obama’s call for peaceful negotiations, held enormous appeal for Iran’s majority “under-30” voter population. But evidently, the powers-that-be in Iran (the ruling Mullah’s) decided it was too soon to start trusting the West, and “certified” the election for Ahmadinejad.

George Bush may be gone, but as Iran’s election this weekend proved (and the economic disaster here at home continues to prove), we’ll be dealing with his legacy of damage, destruction & distrust for years… perhaps even decades… to come.

Postscript: During ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, former GOP Presidential candidate and partisan douchbag Mitt Romney conceded that the Iranian election did indeed appear to be stolen, and YET, simultaneously argued that President Obama’s outreach to the people of the Middle East was having “no effect” and was thus wasted effort. M’kay. Don’t you just love how they try to have it both ways?

ADDENDUM> This morning, the BBC is reporting: Since the overwhelming election victory for incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there have been reports of opposition members being arrested, newspapers being censored and banned and internet sites being blocked.

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