Weekly Comments: Will announces a Route 66 “road to the White House”

# 307, January 29, 2004

COLUMBUS: Oklahoma has been hit by a blizzard of politicians. Clark, Edwards, Lieberman, even Kucinich. It was unusually cold on Tuesday, but those candidates all arrived Wednesday, and it heated right up again. Tonight the heat wave moved east to South Carolina.

Senator Lieberman escaped New Hampshire in fifth place. In Oklahoma he tried out a new platform idea on health care. It’s a bold attempt to move up to fourth. He said, “I plan to fix what’s wrong with our health care, but keep what’s right”.

Now there’s a policy you can’t argue against. Why if he had been saying that, and only that and nothing else, why he would have swept Iowa and New Hampshire. Every voter in this country, a hundred percent of them, would agree with that one simple statement. But here’s where the fun comes…getting ’em to agree on what’s wrong, and what’s right.

Our Oklahoma Governor, Mr. Henry, has his own health plan. He wants to raise taxes on cigarettes, by 52 cents a pack. He figures what’s wrong with our health care is too many of us are smoking. In his plan, the poor folks that can’t afford to smoke will give it up, and naturally get healthier. And the ones that keep smoking will pay millions of dollars in this extra tax, and that’ll cover their hospital bills, and the bills for all the obese and other sickly folks, and even the doctors’ malpractice insurance.

In Tennessee, the Nashville schools say they will stop announcing an Honor Roll. Lawyers claim an Honor Roll is unconstitutional because the ones left off might feel embarrassed. Well, I always thought that was kinda the idea, to make them work harder next time. But no, it seems there’s a certain group that’s proud of their C’s and D’s, and because they can somehow afford to hire a team of lawyers to represent their cause, there’ll be no more honor rolls in Nashville schools.

These school officials also announced that while high school basketball games will continue to be played, they won’t keep score.

They also asked Nashville’s own Vanderbilt University to adopt a new plan whereby they would hand out academic scholarships randomly to their high school seniors, regardless of ability. Kinda like they do now with football scholarships.

I got a plan for any Presidential candidate that’ll adopt it. It’s the Route 66 strategy. On Tuesday there’s four of those Route 66 states up for grabs: Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. Any candidate that can sweep those four, and then clean up in the other Route 66 states… Illinois, Texas and California… why, he will wrap up not only the nomination, but the election too if he can hold ’em through November. So get your kicks (and delegates) on Route 66.

And forget about Tennessee. Nashville won’t let ’em count the ballots, even if a couple of the candidates are beyond embarrassment.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“The greatest thing to recommend the Democrats is optimism and humor. You’ve got to be optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.” Radio broadcast, June 24, 1934

Weekly Comments: Kerry, New Hampshire and the Salvation Army

# 306, January 22, 2004

COLUMBUS: I’ve been laying low since those Iowa votes came in Monday night. My Iowa no-till farmers might have misled you on Dick Gephardt, but it ain’t their fault. I am convinced there’s a hoard of you Gephardt voters out there who figured he would win in a romp, so why go out on a cold night just to vote. That’s what knocked him out.

But those farmers had Dean pegged. See, if you leave out Gephardt, it was Kerry that came out on top in our little poll, with Edwards and Clark next. Now that’s amazing. General Clark never even set foot in Iowa. The Army don’t hardly recognize the state; they only have two forts. That’s Fort Madison and Fort Dodge, and they’re not really forts, just towns. So if the General wants to score well in New Hampshire, he should get out quick, and maybe the voters will forget he was there and vote for him accidently.

Senator Kerry is feeling confident, looking good. He survived the New Hampshire debate tonight and his only worry is all those new residents of New Hampshire, the ones that moved there from Massachusetts to get away from Massachusetts.

Iowa is ready for a breather. They need some rest before a herd of 2008 Republican candidates starts stampeding through the state. Next Wednesday.

If it ain’t politics on television, it’s trials. We got so many trials going on… Martha Stewart in New York, Michael Jackson in Los Angeles, Kobe in Colorado, Scott Peterson in Modesto. Did you see where that Enron couple in Houston pleaded guilty? They saw all the competition, figured nobody is going to watch us in court, and rather than go unrecognized they surrendered even if it did cost them $29 million.

The Peterson trial got moved out of Modesto. The judge said he was looking for a town with 12 people with absolutely no knowledge of anything. That’s the only requirement. He found one near San Francisco, but I thought sure he would’ve picked Hollywood. In Hollywood they would only have to find 9 more jurors ’cause everybody knows they already got three that meet his criteria: Paris Hilton, Michael Moore and Jessica Simpson.

With all this blather, there was some good news this week. All those McDonalds burgers and fries you ate over the years have paid dividends. It turns out that Ray and Joan Kroc saved up some of the dough you dropped at the golden arches, and they left a tidy sum to the Salvation Army: $1.5 Billion. If we can match that in the kettles next Christmas what a great time it will be for a great organization.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“A comedian is not supposed to be serious nor to know much. As long as he is silly enough to get laughs, why, people let it go at that. But I claim you have to have a serious streak in you or you can’t see the funny side in the other fellow. Last Sunday night a young girl [Rheba Crawford] who had made a big hit in the Salvation Army preaching on the street in New York decided to go out and give religious lectures on her own. So on her first appearance I was asked by her to introduce her. She said she would rather have me than a preacher, or a politician, or any one else. Well, I could understand being picked in preference to a politician, as that is one class us comedians have it on for public respect, but to be chosen in preference to a preacher was something new and novel. The meeting was held in a theater, as you have to fool some New Yorkers to get them in to hear a sermon. Well, it took no great stretch of imagination to say something good for the Salvation Army.” WA #13, March 11, 1923

# 305, January 10, 2004

Gephardt wins Iowa No-Till Farmer Caucus (sort of)

DES MOINES, Iowa: If you have been waiting apprehensively for Iowa to select your Democratic front runner for President, you can relax. It’s over and decided.

I know, you’re saying we’re a week early, and some of you will insist on holding on to this news till next Monday night. But the results won’t change none.

See, the No-Till Farmers of America met here in Des Moines this week, including a substantial number from Iowa, and a few from Europe. They spent the better part of four days learning all the newest techniques to grow bigger and better crops, how to spend less, and to keep their soil and fertilizer out of your streams and rivers and lakes. And they’re doing a mighty fine job of it, too.

But last night at the annual banquet, we figured why not get a jump on the Iowa Caucuses. After all, we had a captive group bigger than most that will gather around the state in the various schoolrooms, church basements and machine sheds.

We allowed only authentic Iowans to vote, and while we had a lot of fun the voting and counting were done with fairness, accuracy and utmost decorum. Except, there was one rather raucous group of “outsiders”, from the great state of Nebraska. They tried to field a Dark Horse candidate of their own but were promptly ruled out of order. We didn’t want to give the Supreme Court an excuse to intervene. You can understand their frustration, being a next door neighbor and getting cut out of the fun every four years. But this field of Presidential contenders is already loaded down with about half dark horses already, so there’ll be no more allowed.

Whereas in the past these Caucus affairs have been known to run on for three or four hours, by eliminating the speeches for nominating and seconding we cut the whole process down to seven minutes. We wanted to leave most of the evening for the fine inspirational speaker, Ron Gustafson from Omaha, and believe me he was worth it. Go hear him whenever you can.

When all the voting was done, Dick Gephardt got 37 percent of the votes cast for the nine candidates. Senator Kerry had 25 percent standing in his corner, and Senator Edwards and General Clark tied for third with 12 percent each.

You may wonder, where was Howard Dean? Well, he suffered perhaps the biggest blow, coming in tied for last place, with Al Sharpton and Joe Lieberman.

But really there was one bigger blow. After we had gone through all nine candidates we sensed a few farmers had not voted. So we announced a new category, “None of the Above”. It was as if a wave had rushed through the banquet hall. Fully 65.5 percent of those Iowans stood, and many even cheered. So while Mr. Gephardt can smile a bit, the whole of the Democratic Party has reason to frown.

If you are wondering, was it fair to let all Iowa vote instead of only Democrats? Yes it was. See, Iowa is a bit peculiar when it comes to elections. They have two Senators, like all of us. And when Senator Grassley runs for re-election they are mainly Republican, and when Senator Harkin runs they are mainly Democrat. Since neither one of ’em is up for re-election in 2004, you might say Iowa is mainly… muddled. But by November it’ll clear up.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Democrats never agree on anything. That’s why they’re Democrats. If they could agree with each other, they would be Republicans.” Saturday Evening Post, May 1, 1926

Personally, I don’t think the Democrats will enter anybody. If they are wise they will let it go by default. There is only one way to get even with [the President] now, and that is to leave him in there another term.” WA #14, March 18, 1923

Weekly Comments: College football and Mars rover raise emotions

# 304, January 6, 2004

COLUMBUS: Our colleges finished off another season with their big Bowl games. Southern California invited Michigan out to their home territory and sprung a trap on the Wolverines. They claimed they were champions, but then Louisiana State had Oklahoma down to New Orleans for Sunday supper and cooked the Sooners Cajun style, so naturally they laid claim to the big prize, too. Now we’ve got two champions, and it’ll give the boys something to argue over in 2004 besides politics and Pete Rose betting on baseball.

Ohio State won their game out in Phoenix. It wasn’t as big a game as last year, but a win is a win. The Arizona desert air seems mighty agreeable to them and they might not object to a return trip next year. In fact in Ohio the whole state is feeling good about the Bowls, while the entire state of Oklahoma is feeling poorly and ready to change the subject to basketball.

They may argue about this Bowl Championship Series, but there is something to be said when you can have two champions, not just one. And when 25 or 30 teams can go home as a winner that ain’t all bad either.

When the pros wrap up their Super Bowl next month there’ll only be one team that can end on a high note, and the way Irv Favre is looking out for his son Brett, it’s hard to bet against Green Bay.

Forget sports for a moment; did you see the excitement at NASA when that rover landed? Now, a lot of professional speakers will tell you that engineers are a tough audience because they don’t show emotion. But let me tell you, the way those engineers were jumping and hollering and dancing around, if it had been football they would’ve been penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration.

And have you seen those photos from Mars? Over a hundred million miles away, and they’re clearer than a lot of holiday family pictures shot from across the room.

I’m flying out to Des Moines tomorrow, to check on the Democrats. There’s a farm meeting going on, and if I can round up a Caucus, I’ll get an early reading for you on who has the hot hand heading into the Primaries.

It won’t matter whether Iowa favors Dean or Edwards, or Gephardt or Kerry, or Sharpton or Braun, or even Prancer and Vixen. Those birds can stand out in the middle of a frozen corn field and sing the praises of ethanol till their face turn blue, but it won’t warm the hearts, or sway the minds, of the determined voter. No sir, there’s only one plan guaranteed to bring Victory to my Democrats, and it’s the same plan “I” first proposed in 1924. (read below)

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

The following is part of a “nominating speech” Will wrote for his newspaper column on the Eleventh Day of the 1924 Democratic Convention, where they argued for SIXTEEN DAYS over who to nominate to oppose incumbent Republican Calvin Coolidge.

“Oh, my friends, I am too good a Democrat not to be appreciative of what the party has done for me, not to try and warn you while there is yet time.

We are not gathered here just to name a nominee of the next election, but we are here to name the next President of the grand and glorious United States, of which this party today is the sole refuge for the true patriot.

The man we name must be a man of unquestioned integrity… The man we name must be a man who is not now connected with these inter-sectional fights and feuds here on the floor. The man I am about to name is absolutely aloof from them….

The man we name must be able to go into the far Westland and reap a majority…

The man we name must be able to remove any doubtful States into the realm of certainty. The man I am about to name can give you a majority that will look like a census report…

The man we name here must have no taint of Wall Street. The man I am about to name never saw Wall Street. The man we name here must have absolutely no affiliation with the Klan… The man we name must be of no minority religious creed. The man I am about to name belongs to the creed whose voters are in the majority…

We have our greatest chance this year to bring home victory. That great scandal in our opponents’ party and their close affiliation with predatory wealth has given us an unbounded opportunity… Don’t let us disrupt the party when we can win. We will go to a sure Democratic defeat if we name the wrong man.

The man I am about to name is the only man in these grand and glorious United States who, if we nominate, we can go home and have no worry as to the outcome. Don’t, oh, my Democratic Colleagues, listen to my friend William Jennings Bryan. He named ten candidates; ten men can’t win! Only one man can win. Trust me just this once and I will lead you out of this darkened wilderness into the gates of the White House. There is only one man. That man I am about to name to you is Calvin Coolidge.” Convention Articles, July 3, 1924