A local department store, Costington's, announces the formation of a new summer holiday intended 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. He insults the men, and in response, the family's garbage service is cut off, leading to the Simpsons' garbage piling up on their front lawn. As the mess continues to grow, Marge tells Homer to apologize for the remark, but he insists on doing things his way.
Homer awakes 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. In response, Homer goes to see the Sanitation Commissioner, Ray Patterson, demanding the apology to be returned. Patterson tries to be nice to Homer, but Homer insists on fighting, Eventually Homer decides that he will run for Sanitation Commissioner.
Homer begins to promote his campaign. It starts off badly with Homer being beaten up after interrupting U2's Popmart 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, which works, 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 in only a month. To solve the money problem Homer gets garbage companies from across America to put their excess rubbish in Springfield's abandoned mine shaft. The rest of the family warn Homer that this is endangering the town, but he refuses to listen. Eventually the garbage builds up underground and begins to erupt, pouring trash all over the town. At a town hall meeting, Homer is 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." Quimby then takes extreme measures by moving the entire town five miles down the road from its current site.