Like Howard Beale, the crazed newscaster in the movie classic "Network," Washington voters may be ready to throw open their windows and shout discontent. "Do you have ANY idea...

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Like Howard Beale, the crazed newscaster in the movie classic “Network,” Washington voters may be ready to throw open their windows and shout discontent.

“Do you have ANY idea how fascist you west-siders seem, as we all head into this west-side-instituted Gregoire government?” raged an e-mail I got this week. “Every single true east-side Washingtonion [sic] knew this governor’s race would never end until you west-siders had your way. …

“Get it straight. This election was so close you had to stoop to finding ballots which STUPID west-siders couldn’t vote correctly upon and then re-interpret what those ‘voters’ wanted.”

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The anger resonates like Beale’s famous, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Half of the electorate will likely feel cheated when someone is sworn in as governor. At the moment that would be Democrat Christine Gregoire, ahead by 130 votes after a hand recount that followed two earlier tallies in which she lost.

Under law, the hand recount should be final and deciding, but more legal wrangling is possible. Republican Dino Rossi hasn’t conceded and if he somehow reverses the current outcome, Gregoire supporters would be outraged.

“I can’t remember a story that generated as much ongoing reader response as this recount,” says David Postman, Times chief political reporter. “Lots of people who I’m willing to bet didn’t pay attention during the campaign were watching every little move in the recount.

“This story had a mix of things that is almost guaranteed to get people angry: big mistakes by government, judicial action in elections and partisan players,” Postman added.

He said most of the reaction he’s gotten has been from people in state, but a fair number of e-mails have come from around the country.

“I do laugh a little at people complaining of the partisan environment we’ve been in since Nov 2. We are talking about a partisan election after all,” he said.

“The main thing I take away from this as of today — and subject to change — is that the public as represented by those who write me each day do not believe partisan players when they claim they are above partisanship. That’s definitely true with the main players — Gregoire and Rossi — and also with auditors, election directors and others.”

Voter discontent is probably inevitable when the closest election in state history includes counting ballots three times with differing results. But discontent is especially corrosive if the public doesn’t trust the process or those running it.

So, what to do?

Instead of throwing open your window and shouting your anger, send us your questions. Use the contact information at the bottom of this column to tell us what you want to know about this election.

We’ll try to cut through the political spin to give you straightforward answers. The more specific you are, the more we can help, and please state your question as a question, not a diatribe.

However it ends, this election is one for the history books. You can help us write the first version of that history.

Looking Back

Today’s newspaper is full of entertaining and touching reflections on the year past. None is more compelling than Pacific Northwest Magazine’s annual pictures-of-the-year retrospective. As always, this year’s photos are mesmerizing, bearing witness to experiences of all sorts.

The accompanying essay is by Kathy Andrisevic, who has been the magazine’s editor almost since its beginning more than 20 years ago. Having started her career as a photographer, Andrisevic understands photojournalism intimately, and her words honor what she describes as visual truth-telling.

The photojournalists at The Seattle Times, she writes, “feel, more than ever, a responsibility to understand the significance of an image and the consequences of making it public.”

Certainly that is true for the magazine’s cover photo of rows of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. The Times first published the photo in April, after receiving it from Tami Silicio, who took it while working at the air base where the coffins were loaded onto a military-transport plane.

The photo was the first image of its kind to be seen from the Iraq war. It cost Silicio and her husband their jobs and sparked a national debate about military rules barring the taking of such pictures. Reporter Hal Bernton brings Silicio’s story up to date on the front page today.

Silicio’s photo is all the more powerful now, given the news that at least six soldiers from Ft. Lewis were among 22 people killed when a bomb went off in a mess tent last week in northern Iraq. May this image again honor the memory of all who have died.

Inside the Times appears in the Sunday Seattle Times. If you have a comment on news coverage, write to Michael R. Fancher, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, call 206-464-3310 or send e-mail to More columns at