A local department store, Costington's, announces the formation of a new August holiday intended (as Lisa points out) to boost sales: Love Day. The Simpsons celebrate it, but the vast amount of packaging it produces causes the garbage to build up. When Homer eventually takes it out, he is infuriated with the garbage men as they drive away without collecting the Simpson family's trash. Angered by their ignorance, Homer insults the men by calling them "trash-eating stinkbags", but this only angers them into a fight with Homer, and as a result, the family's garbage service is cut off, leading to the Simpsons' garbage piling up on their front lawn. Homer and Bart think it is easy to throw trash out the window, and as the mess continues to grow, Marge tells Homer to apologize for the remark, but he insists on doing things his way.
Homer awakens one morning to find that the pile of trash at the front of the house has been removed. He proudly boasts that he beat city hall only to learn that Marge had written a letter of apology to the Springfield Sanitation Commissioner, forging Homer's name. Homer then goes to see the Sanitation Commissioner, Ray Patterson, demanding the apology letter to be returned. Despite returning the letter, Patterson tries to be civil with Homer, but Homer insists he will get in a fight with the sanitation department. Eventually Homer decides that he will run for Sanitation Commissioner, remaking it into his image.
Homer begins to promote his campaign. It starts off badly with Homer being beaten up after interrupting U2's PopMart Tour concert, but picks up when Homer, after prompting from Moe, thinks of a slogan for his campaign: "Can't someone else do it?" Homer spreads his message to the town and promises expensive services such as round-the-clock garbage service and having the sanitation workers do all the cleaning, leading to his landslide victory in the election. After being sworn in to the office, he shows what he plans to do by singing a parody of "The Candy Man" entitled "The Garbage Man".
However, fulfilling his promises proves quite costly and after Homer's mass spending spree, Mayor Quimby denounces him for spending the Sanitation Department's yearly budget of $4.6 million in only a month. To solve the budget crisis and pay the workers for their services, Homer gets cities all over the United States to pay him to mash their excess garbage into the abandoned mine shaft on the outskirts of Springfield. The rest of the family warn Homer that this will be endangering the town, but he claims there is nothing to worry about. Eventually, despite the budget crisis having ended and the workers receiving their salaries as promised, the garbage builds up underground and begins to erupt, pouring trash all over the town. At a town hall meeting, Homer gets fired from his post and replaced with Ray Patterson, but Patterson declines reinstatement to the position, expressing his amusement at them "wallowing in the mess [they] made." With no one else to fill for Sanitation Commissioner to clean up the trash, Quimby then takes extreme measures by moving the entire town five miles down the road from its current site, but Lisa points out that even though they are transplanting Springfield, they will just start littering again when they finish moving.