A definite must-read so will post it in full here, but if you prefer hitch over to the Angry Arab, now!
Some Western principles in assessing elections in developing countries:
1) When the favored candidates win, the elections are free and fair. And when they lose, elections are certainly unfree and stolen.
2) Violent protests against elections that produce winners favored by the west, are to be strictly condemned and protesters are to be called terrorists, hooligans and mobs (can you imagine if Lebanese opposition supporters were to engage in violent protests against the election results in Lebanon), while violent protests against enemies of the US when they win elections (like in Moldova) are to be admired (and the protesters in those cases are called "democracy activists".
3) It is not against free elections to have Western governments interfere in elections and in funding candidates through Western groups for the promotion of democracy.
4) Candidates (or even dictators) who serve Western interests are automatically labeled as "reform candidates" (even the Saudi tyrant is referred to as "reform-minded"), while candidates who oppose Western economic and political interests are to be labeled enemies of reform.
5) Candidates who are not strident in their language about Israel are always favored.
6) Western observers of elections are always on hand to declare an election unfair and rigged if the favored candidates lose.
7) The corruption of pro-US candidates (like the March 14 bunch) is preferred to the non-corruption of, say, Mugabe.
8) The democratic credentials of dictators immediately improve if they change their policies toward the US and if they express willingness to serve US economic and political interests.
9) Countries where dictators do a good job in serving US economic and political interests need not hold elections.
10) If favored candidates can't guarantee electoral victory (like the PA tool, Abu Mazen whose term has expired months ago), they don't need to hold elections and will be treated as if they won an election anyway.
11) It is just not logical to assume that people in developing countries can freely ever decide to make choices that are not consistent with political and economic interests of the US.
12) Elections that are held under American and Israeli occupations are free and fair if the preferred candidates win.