I love Idaho. I love the zany, the kooky and the just plain weird politics and politicians that bubble up like some fermented swamp gas every few years. Most recently we, and the rest of the country were entertained by the Idaho gubernatorial Republican primary debate. In a few years we’ll still be talking about Harley Brown’s “Proverbial turd in a punchbowl.” Lest not we forget the federal felony that Walt Bayes announced with his admission of shooting a wolf “While it was still on the endangered species list.”
Their closing statements, presented in full on Kuna Melba News’ website, are worthy of dramatic readings backed up by banjos at your next soiree.
But 2014 is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look back. Shall we?
Moving back in time we don’t have to go very far to remember Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig’s arrest for trying to score a little anonymous gay action in a Minneapolis airport restroom. For someone who was so publically anti-gay you wonder what kind of self-loathing he must have. That was zany.
Representative Mark Patterson resigned recently over some little problem he had while living down in Florida. He forgot to tell the Ada County Sheriff about it when he applied for a concealed weapon permit. It wasn’t that big of a deal anyway he said. What was it? Oh, just a little thing called rape. He doesn’t recall it though because of memory issues caused by chemotherapy. But he remembers that the woman recanted. Seriously kooky.
Then we have Bill Sali, who managed to squander an incumbent’s advantage losing after only serving two years in Congress to a Democrat, something unheard of in Idaho politics for 56 years. Perhaps it was Sali’s proposal to repeal the law of gravity which made the speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives say, “That idiot is just an absolute idiot.” Of course, that was more in response to Sali’s allegations that breast cancer was linked to abortion.
Congressman Helen Chenoweth served from 1995 through 2001. Her tenure as a congressman was highlighted by her opposition to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski despite having carried on a six-year affair in the 1980s herself. She staunchly insisted that she be called Congressman and not Congresswoman, claimed federal agents were invading rancher’s property with black helicopters and ridiculed endangered salmon by serving canned salmon during fundraisers. The queen of qwacky.
Senator Mike Crapo pled guilty to a DUI in Virginia after being arrested on December 23, 2012. He paid a $250 fine and had a 180-day sentenced waived. Try that if you don’t have friends within the prosecutor’s office. Oh yeah, he relies on his Mormon base to keep him in office… the same Mormons that aren’t supposed to drink. Crapo want’s you to know that he’s given up drinking.
During the Reagan years, Congressman George Hansen was censured for failing to file disclosure forms and spent 15 months in prison. Apparently, his anti-IRS rhetoric finally caught up with him. He claimed he was tortured with “diesel therapy” where prisoners are transported for days or weeks in vehicles. Hansen ran for re-election from prison and was only narrowly defeated.
And we shouldn’t forget that Sarah Palin attended an Idaho college.
Many folks from both the left and right are embarrassed at Idaho’s inability to keep the kooks out of the news. Many accuse Governor Otter of making a mockery of Idaho by including Brown and Bayes in the recent debate. I disagree. Everyone deserves a voice, even the kooks. And I’m proud to live in a state that not only allows the kooks to have their say in a public forum, but occasionally puts them in to office.
As a newspaperman, it makes my job much more interesting.