HUNTSVILLE, AL–For the 135th straight year since Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, representatives for the South announced Monday that the region has postponed plans to rise again.

Three of the estimated 45 million Southerners who have not yet gotten around to rising again.

"Make no mistake, the South shall rise again," said Knox Pritchard, president of the Huntsville-based Alliance Of Confederate States. "But we're just not quite ready to do it now. Hopefully, we'll be able to rise again real soon, maybe even in 2001."

Pritchard's fellow Southerners shared his confidence.

"Yes, sir. The South will rise again, and when it does, I'll be right up front waving the Stars and Bars," said Dock Mullins of Decatur, GA. "But first, I gotta get my truck fixed and get that rusty old stove out of my yard."

"Lord willing, and the creek don't rise, we gonna rise again," said Sumter, SC, radiator technician Hap Slidell, who describes himself as "Southern by the grace of God." "I don't know exactly when we're gonna do it, but one of these days, we're gonna show them Yankees how it's done."

"Save your Confederate dollars," Slidell added. "You can bet on that."

The Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee consistently rank at the bottom of the nation in a wide variety of statistical categories, including literacy, infant mortality, hospital beds, toilet-paper sales, and shoe usage. Even so, some experts believe the region could be poised for a renaissance.

The Kentucky state capitol.

"The way things stand, things in the Deep South almost have to get better. Otherwise, the people who live there will devolve into preverbal, overall-wearing sub-morons within a century," said Professor Dennis Lassiter of Princeton University. "Either Southerners will start improving themselves, or they'll be sold to middle-class Asians as pets."

"My constituents are decent, hard-working folk," said Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, in his 22nd annual "Next Year, By God!" speech on the steps of North Carolina's capitol building. "We are a proud people who mayn't have all that much fancy-pants book-learnin', but we live and die with pride in our proud heritage and the dignity of our forebears."

Helms' speech was met with nearly 25 minutes of enthusiastic hoots and rebel yells by the 15,000 drunk, unemployed tobacco pickers in attendance.

Though Southerners are overwhelmingly in favor of rising again, few were able to provide specific details of the rising-again process.

"I don't know, I reckon we'll build us a bunch of big, fancy buildins and pave us up a whole mess of roads," said Bobby Lee Fuller of Greenville, MS. "I ain't exactly sure where we're gonna get the money for that, but when Johnny Reb sets his mind to something, you best get out of his way."

"Oh, it'll happen, sure as the sun come up in the morning," said Buford Comstock, 26, a student at Over 'N' Back Diesel Driving School in Union City, TN. "The South is gonna rise up, just as soon as we get together and get all our shit back in one sock. Then, look out, Northerners!"

"Yesiree," Comstock added, "one day soon, the Mason-Dixon Line will be the boundary between a great nation and one whose time done passed."