Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may need all his considerable election-rigging skills to win the upcoming Russian presidential election.
He has what one would think is a surefire, can't-lose campaign issue: More sex, lots and lots of more sex. The Republican presidential field, no slouches in this area, can only look on with envy.
Newt Gingrich must be thinking: "I could have made this into a positive. I wasn't philandering. I was doing my patriotic duty!"
But Putin's efforts to promote a randier Russia suggest the U.S. military's description of someone so incompetent and uninspiring that he couldn't peddle a desirable female commodity on a troopship. (You precocious younger readers, go ask your father. Preferably within earshot of Mom.)
However, as the London Daily Mail put it, "his edict to go forth and multiply" was immediately mocked and ridiculed by the Russian public, especially the women.
Said one incredulously, perhaps thinking of the production quotas under the old Soviet Union, "So, now we have to make love nonstop?" If you're a true patriot, yes, says Putin.
The newspaper Politico posted a TV ad from Putin's United Russia Party that strongly suggests an attractive young couple having sex in a voting booth, presumably while voting for Putin. The slogan: "Let's Do It Together."
Putin, however, is less interested in a sexually satisfied nation than in a more populous one. Since Putin first took office as president in 2000, the ethnic Russian population has fallen by 2.5 million and the country is on pace to see its overall population fall by 50 million by 2050 to around 107 million.
He wants to see his people get busy right now to make up for that shortfall, otherwise, "We are facing the risk of turning into an 'empty space' whose fate will not be decided by us."
As it happens, Russia is surrounded by states, many of them Islamic, with soaring birthrates and eyes on Russia's empty spaces and ample resources. To help the birthrate along, Putin is not just urging more sex but promising mothers of a third child better housing, $221 a month and free kindergarten.
His plea for more copulation and procreation has not gone totally unheeded. A foreign commenter, presumably male, on one website examining the more-sex issue, posted this offer: "I'd be happy to help out."
Dale McFeatters is a senior writer for the Scripps Howard News Service.