San Diego Business Journal

As this is written, we still do not know for certain who will be the next President of the United States. Vice President Al Gore slightly leads in the popular vote nationwide, but the race is still too close to call for Florida's key electoral votes. The only thing certain about the next presidency is it will be a rough one.

No matter who ends up in the White House, the next president will be forced to lead without a mandate. And with both houses of Congress now so evenly divided, it's unlikely the 43rd president will get much help from the Legislature.

If Gore should pick up Florida's electoral votes and follow President Bill Clinton into the Oval Office, he will face a hostile GOP majority , no matter how slight , in both the House and the Senate. It's unlikely any of his initiatives would find easy approval.

A Bush presidency would be nearly as powerless. With the Republican majority in both houses so narrowed, "Dubya" could find it almost as difficult as Gore to get approval for any of his initiatives.

Moreover, the Republicans may soon find themselves in the minority in Congress. American voters tend to prefer balancing power in Washington by giving the legislative majority to the party that doesn't hold the White House. In two years, a Bush presidency could find itself butting heads with a Democratically controlled House, perhaps even a Democratic Senate.

If either house turns, Bush could find himself targeted for the same kind of grief the Republican-controlled Congress gave Clinton.

Special prosecutor Kevin Starr's investigation of Clinton's and Gore's various activities began with allegations of the President's shady business dealings in the Whitewater affair.

George W., too, has a history of murky business deals. As retribution, he could find himself the target of a special prosecutor just as Clinton did.

Finally, whoever sits in the Oval Office will undoubtedly have to deal with an eventual downturn in the economy. Long before Ronald Reagan left the White House, pundits predicted whoever replaced him would be a one-term president, shot down by a souring economy. That victim turned out to be Dubya's daddy. Either a Bush or Gore presidency could fall into a similar trap.

Uncertainties abound this presidential election year, yet one thing is guaranteed. Whoever takes the oath of office in January is certain to have a bumpy ride.