195 Aug 28, 2001

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the newspaper. If I only depended on television news this month I wouldn’t know about anything but Gary Condit and Powerball.

Television reporters spent a week telling us what Congressman Condit would tell Connie Chung; then the entire week since he said it, they’ve been telling us why we can’t believe what he told her. They only paused long enough to interrupt with bulletins of how many lottery tickets were sold in the previous minute, and what the total purse is up to.

Well, Saturday night they pulled out the numbers, and four people are getting about $40 million each. By now television has told us all about the winners. I guess they’ll leave it to the newspapers to interview the thirty million losers. It seems fair that we should hear their story, too, since they contributed the prize money in the first place.

Workers at one factory contributed $24,000 and came up dry. Just think what the Red Cross could have done with $24,000.

I heard a fellow say on the radio, “I’ve made some mistakes in my past, but now I can do something positive with my future.” I thought at first it was Mr. Condit resigning. But, no, it was a lottery winner, from a poverty stricken region of the country. The man’s been in jail the better part of twenty years, and now he has $40 million.

He announced that he’s going to get a Rolls-Royce, “I’m not one to take a lot of money and splurge on mansions, but I’m sure buying that Rolls.”

Yes, it’ll be the only Rolls-Royce in the state parked beside a trailer. With the dough he has left he may run for Congress.

Historical quote from Will Rogers:

“Lotteries has played – it really has played a great part in our whole history of our country…. Now, here’s something I bet you didn’t know. I bet you didn’t know the Revolutionary War was largely financed by lotteries. They sold tickets on that, you know. They made it a sporting event instead of a war. History shows that George Washington always had number one lottery ticket in every lottery. George had number one. And one time he won – that’s when he bought Mount Vernon. Yes, sir, they made a sweepstakes out of the Revolutionary War. They sold England some tickets, but not the right ones. They didn’t win anything.” Radio broadcast, May 5, 1935

#194 Aug 22, 2001

COLUMBUS: The Federal Reserve Board cut interest rates again yesterday. Alan Greenspan said if this cut doesn’t turn the economy around, next time he’ll eliminate interest all together.

And if the country don’t start picking up by Christmas, he’s looking over a plan whereby instead of charging interest, he’ll start paying you to borrow the money. The Government will say, “Here’s a hundred dollars. Next year pay me back the hundred, minus a couple of dollars for your trouble.” So you get a hundred to use for a year, and then pay back the Treasury $98.

You might ask, “Well, it sounds good for me, but what about the Government, won’t they go broke, giving out a hundred and only get back 98?” Not at all… see, normally when they send out a hundred they don’t get nothing back.

Jesse Helms of North Carolina announced today he will retire from the Senate next year. No word yet from Strom Thurmond or Gary Condit.

There’s good news from Chicago… Paul Harvey has his voice back. It ain’t a hundred percent, but he’s good for five minutes a day. Some may argue, but I think if anybody in this country can lay claim to being the Voice of America, it’s him.

Last Saturday I got invited to annoy a bunch of old tractor owners and admirers. It was the tractors that was old, but some of ’em run like new. The tractors are Minneapolis-Molines, and they were all built between 1929 and 1970. Over a hundred of these folks from all over the country were there, and many brought their tractors with them.

They met up in Holmes County, Ohio. That’s the heart of Amish country and there’s no better place to hold a big Show of these classic tractors. No matter how old they are, in Holmes County they look like modern farm machinery.

One of the farmers has 95 M-M’s, and they all run. Another has 12, and only one acre of ground. For the fellow that only has one, he is just as passionate about it because it’s the one he grew up with.

I have told this to some of you before, but it’s worth repeating. A couple of years ago I saw a bumper sticker that read, “A Farm boy always remembers two things… his first kiss, and his first tractor.” And most of ’em remember the tractor better.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“All the financial papers are talking about how cheap money is now, with the Federal Reserve banks, around 3 and 3 1/2 per cent. I don’t see why they don’t say it’s half of one per cent, for there is no way getting any of it, anyway.” DT #1219, June 22, 1930

“The farms are all going back to the horse and mule. You can raise what he eats. But can’t raise what a tractor eats. A horse will keep on going even when it’s hungry, but let the old tractor get hungry and, brother, he stops.” WA #561, Sept 21, 1933

193 Aug 15, 2001

COLUMBUS: The cost of meat took a sharp turn higher tonight. A lamb sold for $30,000 and an Angus steer brought $75,000. Even chicken is no bargain… a crate of hens went for $18,000. Throw in a hog for about $40,000 and you’ve got yourself a feast.

But don’t be concerned for your grocery budget. These animals were the Grand Champions of the Ohio State Fair, and most of the money will go for scholarships for hundreds of deserving young boys and girls. These kids in 4-H, FFA and other fine youth groups, work all year preparing their animals, and other projects, and they deserve all the praise we can give ’em.

Did you read about those women in Turkey? The whole town of Sirt has been without running water for a year, and the men refused to fix the pipes. The wives finally got tired of carrying water for miles and told their husbands, “No water, no sex.”

Today, the men ordered the pipe and the pump, and say the water will soon be flowing again. (This goes to show you the power of a good motivational speech, when combined with an action plan.)

This idea of wives withholding sex can work in Turkey, but not in Washington. The wives would have to get agreement from all the stewardesses, secretaries, and interns.

Historic fact about Will Rogers:

Today in history, August 15, 1935, Will and Wiley Post died when the single engine plane piloted by Wiley crashed in shallow water on the Alaska coast near Point Barrow.

“Will Rogers was more than an entertainer. While he chewed his gum and twirled his rope, his mind was busy with serious thoughts. He devoted his best mental energy to the solution of problems of national importance, and he worked tirelessly for right and justice. He deliberately trained himself to face issues squarely and to look into both sides of every question. He refused to be led aside by personal likes and dislikes, and he had small patience with petty quarrels. In every emergency he kept a level head. He kept us laughing and gave us courage. Will Rogers and Wiley Post, strong, vigorous men, loved this rugged land. They loved flying. They died as they had lived – bravely. And a nation holds them both in loving memory.” From “Will Rogers, The Cherokee Kid” (page 129), by David Milsten.

192 Aug 9, 2001

COLUMBUS: Our President sure got the attention of the preachers and politicians tonight. He told them, and us, where he stood on paying for something called “stem cell research”.

They all have an opinion on it, even though ten or fifteen years ago, none of ’em had ever heard of it. Now, to listen to ’em, this research is either an opening to the greatest medical discoveries of all time, or it’s an abomination against human life.

CNN immediately followed the speech by interviewing all the learned intellectuals on the subject of stem cell scientific research. They had actors, Baptist preachers, Catholic theologians, Senators, reporters… no scientists. I guess they were all working in their labs tonight, solving the problems of the world rather than jabbering about them.

Mr. Bush said there are already 60 of these stem cell lines, and that ought to be enough to keep the federal-funded scientists occupied for the rest of his term. Maybe, but don’t be surprised if it requires a few thousand more before they find cures for diabetes, paralysis, and all these other pressing needs. Aren’t you glad no one was around to tell Edison he only had 60 tries to develop a light bulb.

The President went to Texas for a vacation, and perhaps it can start tomorrow. (His twins deserve some fatherly attention.)

While some folks question whether a President should stay out of Washington for a month, there are others who say two months would be better. And make it three for Congress. When was the last time those folks made a decision in the middle of summer that turned out right on all counts? No only should they not make any decisions, they shouldn’t even be allowed on the radio in August to talk about the decisions they made last spring. The rest of us need a vacation, too.

The heat has been affecting the country for a week or two. The heat wave finally made it east to New York, so now it’s officially hot. Before, it was just a rumor.

Folks here don’t like hot weather, but England would like us to send some over there. They don’t see ninety degrees but seldom, so it’s a delightful novelty to ’em, kinda like a good cup of coffee.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Have you been reading about the disgraceful way the Senate has been carrying on lately? You know our old Forefathers that laid out the time that our Congress was to meet knew something. They always held Congress in cool weather. They knew a Senator couldn’t stand up under the heat and his position, too. When hot weather hits him not only his body but his brain perspires and the discharge from both is equally useless.” DT #899, June 13, 1929.

“All the papers out here (California) are headlining how many heat prostrations there are in the East. No use publishing it, for it’s so hot out here that nobody is able to read it. It’s not the heat I mind, it’s the perspiration.” DT #906 , June 21, 1929.

“Outside of the heat, there just is not a bit of news in the papers. Government affairs never was at such a stagnant state. Mr. Hoover disappears every week-end.” DT #907, June 23, 1929

“I’m (going) off the air during the heat spell…. A man that talks on the radio to an audience in warm weather kind of affects his mind and the audience’s, too. Heat and reason don’t go together, anyhow, you know.” Radio, June 9, 1935

191 Aug 1, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: I’m out here in northern California, seeing if I can help the Governor scrape up some more electricity. I stumbled across one answer to his problem: Raisins.

After wandering around the Capitol Saturday afternoon I headed south in the San Joaquin Valley, looking over the farms down around Stockton, Modesto and Merced. They got hay, corn, cotton, wheat, tomatoes, almonds, nectarines, plums, peaches, dairy cows, cattle, sheep and goats… almost anything you can name, you add water to it, and it’ll grow here.

But the commodity they have more of than they can possibly get shut of is raisins.

Of course they start out as grapes, but after the pickers eat their fill, what’s left over they turn into wine and raisins.

When premium wine is $40, that’s where they make their profits. But they just announced the Grand Champion wine of all California this year is one that only brings $6 a bottle. So wine ranks up there with all those San Jose dot.coms for profit potential. If you can get the best for $6, why pay more.

That leaves Raisins. This state normally produces 40 percent of all the world’s supply of raisins, but in the last two years it’s grown closer to 110 percent. And the price has shriveled to 45 cents.

So if Governor Davis can trade raisins for electricity, he can redeem himself to the farmers and voters. Maybe he can send a few trainloads to Florida… sell them as miniature prunes, and take kilowatts in return. General Mills could add another scoop to their cereal without overloading the box, or cutting into Tiger Woods’ share. Instead of a banana, eat a box of raisins… that’ll help without putting any of our other US farmers out of work.

Modesto has a big sign across Main Street proclaiming to be home to “Water, Wealth, Contentment, and Health”. Their Congressman is cutting into their contentment, but they still have the other three to fall back on. Mr. Condit is keeping quiet at a time when his raisin growers need him most.

Engineers are holding a convention this week in the huge Sacramento Convention Center. A fellow needs one of those electronic GPS map devices, just to find the shortest distance between two committees.

The engineering students held a competition on a street near the Capitol. It’s a thing called a Quarter-scale Tractor Pull. Now quarter horses have been around a long time, but these quarter-scale tractors are pretty new. The crowds got excited just like for the full-size tractor pulls at your county fairs. The winner was designed and built at Kansas State University.

At the White House, Jimmy Carter gave President Bush a new plan to improve elections. It’s a good plan, and will cost us less than the lawyers’ bills for the last election. But he wants to make a holiday out of Election Day. Personally, I think everybody should be required to work that day, even if you’re sick. If you want more folks to vote, don’t give ‘em an excuse to stay in bed all day, or go on a 4-day vacation trip.

I compliment him for letting convicted felons vote after they have served their time. That way, more candidates can vote for themselves. Here’s another good one: he wants the news media to remain quiet until after the polls close. To make it even better, why not require the candidates to remain quiet for at least a month before the polls open.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I’m broadcasting from Sacramento, California; that’s our capital out here, a beautiful state capital located in the civilized end of the state.

It’s one of the old cities founded during the gold rush days. They used to use gold for money at one time in this country, but now it’s the only thing you can’t use for money.

(We’ve) got a legislature here. In fact, we got quite a few of them here in the hall – always an undesirable element pert near anywhere you go.

We’re up here with a movie company, and the legislature, as I say, they’re here, and people can’t hardly tell which is which. We’re up here making a comedy to try and put over on the people, and they’re up here working on one to try to put over on the same people. Their comedy is going to have a little drama in it. For anytime you stick a couple of hundred million dollars on a state in taxes, why you’re getting into tragedy then.” Radio broadcast, May 19, 1935

“I was up in Sacramento last week. They wanted me to address the legislature, but I didn’t get to do it. But it wouldn’t have done much – there’s nothing much you could do about a legislature.

I mean it wouldn’t have done much good to address them. It’s almost hopeless, and just about all you can do is just pay ’em and then hope for the best.

Funny joke on them though. They run out of money Wednesday, and they’re not getting anything now, so they’re getting just about what they’re worth.” Radio broadcast, May 26, 1935