Although it tis the season, its been very difficult for fans tethered to New York racing to be jolly. Not with everyone suffering from franchise fatigue.

Remarkably, but predictably, it appears as if New York State lawmakers are about to run out of racetrack: Ten days and counting to years end, Christmas Day notwithstanding, and not a creature is stirring, not even the House.

Which reminds me, before examining this phenomenon: Have you seen the television ads of those politicians that would like to be known in 2009 by the worlds most powerful acronym, POTUS?

Hillary is placing all the gifts America we will get under its holiday tree, with care, of course. That a corporate Democrat would come with so many centrist presents was not surprising. All part of the Hillary I Know spin campaign, I guess.

And there was Rudy, Mr. Jocular, the Saint of 911, cracking wise with fruitcake jokes. Talk about l-a-m-e. Certainly wouldnt want to miss any of his stump gems from now on. Gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it.

I like the ad of John Edwards, the populist in the $400 coiffure, that was a little more secular but a warm message sure to resonate with Americans whove been taking it on the chin lately, just about everybody.

Edwards is right about one thing: The medias primary coverage has been superficial.

Have you seen those election-as-horserace cable ads? Cmon Chris, have a talk with Abrams and his people. The spots are as lame as Rudys.

The Obama family holiday message was warm and mainstream, the urban family next door, just like many of you and me. At least, it was to the point and tastefully low key.

There was Mitt Romney, whose message was heavy and serious and button-down, per usual, looking like anything but a member of a cult.

And, of course, my personal favorite, Mike Huckabee, who appears to be running for saint.

Note the bookcase, lit with a bright light that gave the illusion of it being, you know, a cross, and see it land on his right shoulder before disappearing behind him, just in case you werent getting the message.

And Im thinking the most important election in modern American history is looming, so why shouldnt media coverage on the Road to the White House be superficial? The messages are.

Meanwhile, sometimes you develop your principles based on experience, George W. Bush was saying at a Thursday morning press conference. He never was in danger of practicing what he preached.

Its America that has franchise fatigue, why not New York horseplayers? But, I digress.

So with 10 days remaining in 2007, Democratic Gov. Spitzer decided to replace Non-Profit Oversight Board chairperson Carole Stone, appointed by previous Republican Governor George Pataki in 2005.

Not that the NYRA will allow the boards designee on the grounds Jan. 1 to conduct racing without a fight. In fact, they probably wouldnt, refusing to dignify that plan with a comment.

This recent announcement angered me because Trooper Gate--a potential Spitzer albatross symptomatic of his feud with Republican Senate majority leader Joe Bruno--is back in the news and it appeared Spitzers decision to replace a Pataki appointee was politically motivated.

Until Stone spoke, and her qualifications to steer New York racing, even on an interim basis, were exposed. Heres how she responded to a reporters questions/observations.

On what organization would be appointed to replace NYRA if theres no permanent accord by Dec. 31? We dont have an alternate operator selected, or in mind.

Guess two years wasnt enough time to think about it.

On the legalities should another operator temporarily take over the franchise? Were sorting through the process.

Dana Perino would have made a perfect replacement but shes working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

On whether she thought NYRA would accept the terms of a temporary extension? They need to respond before [Dec. 31]. I dont know why they would decline.

Thirty days, step down, next case, please.

Whatever Spitzers motive, Ms. Stone needed to be replaced. Incredibly, she will remain a board member.

Just dont ask her any more questions, OK?

So now Steven Newman, former Deputy Comptroller of New York City, will be responsible for finding a suitable temporary replacement for NYRA on Jan. 1, if necessary.

The fact there will be no mutuel clerks to sell tickets, or any personnel to supply services from hot dogs to barn security, etc., etc., is probably viewed as no big hindrance.

In the immortal words of A.J.: What, no #$%&^* calendar now?

You know the scariest part of this? The fact that Senator Bruno thinks that a larger board of permanent appointees is the proper compromise to settle the franchise flap.