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This is all the election campaign needed. As it totters to its close, not with a whimper but a squawk, a tortured cock's crow is heard from afar, before the land soon falls silent again.

Anyone who hoped the campaign would shake itself back to life in its final days is in for a disappointment. The 2006 election campaign was finally buried, together with hundreds of thousands of chicken carcasses, and the burial slab was fixed on the grave.

Another rooster woke up yesterday crowing bitterly about the "character assassination" to which the media is subjecting him. His voice too will be lost in the flutter of wings. The complaint about the character assassination is the last refuge of the desperate candidate whose chances have run out.

Had it not been for the bird flu, Kadima's government would have had to invent it. Instead of dealing with its policy on Hamas and its new cabinet; instead of paying attention to state comptroller soon-to-be-released reports on Olmert's political appointments; instead of life-saving medicines for dying patients, whose last hope was stolen at the order of the attorney general; instead of those and a host of other issues - the main news headlines and entire pages are allocated to the bloody chicken flu and its damages.

The world epidemic erupted about 10 years ago, and it could have been assumed that the state was prepared for it. Therefore, we always assume and are always wrong. The government never prepares in advance, and the shortcomings only appear when disaster strikes.

This epidemic is presently restricted to birds. I may be doing an injustice, mumbling about the government's unreadiness for disasters that wreak havoc among human beings as well. Israel should be named Surprised Inc. - a state with many walls, but no moving finger writing on them. Every expected and predicted calamity is an astounding surprise, and the one thing all the surprises have in common is that they are not surprising at all.

At this early hour, the acting prime minister is sitting down to his breakfast, engrossed pleasurably in reading the newspapers. How fortunate he is: When an entire country is sinking its teeth into a drumstick, prepared according to all the detailed and authorized directives, who will sink teeth into his thigh?

The leading candidate doesn't have to do a thing on election eve. Nor does he have to tire his mind on the day after: the future is here, and it belongs to the soft boiled egg, the fried egg, the scrambled egg and the omelette, the schnitzel, shakshouka and shwarma. Even Benjamin Netanyahu in his good days could not have thought up such a spin.