It’s not easy to find rhetoric nastier than the kind that’s been humming across the fax machines recently about North Carolina’s Senate race (messages that pit Liddy “Bear Hug for Jesse Helms” Dole against Erskine “Running from Bill Clinton” Bowles).

But consider the state’s fast food wars. We recently got a press release about “Subway’s win over McDonald’s” that declares the submarine chain has beat out the hamburger giant for having the most locations in the country (but only by 148 stores). Nationwide, Subway opened more than 900 restaurants last year, while McDonald’s opened only 295, we’re told. In North Carolina, Subway now has 469 locations, making it the state’s “largest fast food restaurant chain.”

And if the bigger-is-better argument fails to convince, Subway isn’t averse to wrapping itself in the flag. “According to reports from Subway corporate headquarters,” the release says, “Although the U.S. economy was hit hard after Sept. 11, Subway saw a boost in sales as well as continued construction of new stores.”

Well, what do you have to say to that, Ronald?