Politics

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In spite of a democracy being known and proven as the most inefficient kind of government ever devised by humans, it is also fairest and longest-lasting. Why? Because everybody gets to put in their two bits worth.

Most effective rule, according to a course I took in college for a minor in history, is a benevolent dictatorship, and we don’t want that. This situation makes some crazy sideshows in government activity, and lets guys like Will Rogers and me write about it.

The political news these days, both in Montana and back in Washington, is so confusing and frustrating that I watch minimal TV and try to avoid political items during my daily “News and Comment” program on Radio AM/FM KGEZ.

For those needing a bit of nostalgia, plus a fun reminder that political business has always been a bit on the nasty side, I’ve dug up an interesting report following the 1996 campaigns for President and Congress. A November 1996 column is printed below.

Was going to run a list this week of the silly exaggerations, the lies by innuendo, the ignorance, and the plain mean outright lies that were part of the just-ended political campaign. However, the three double-spaced sheets I submit to the paper each week could only cover the past two weeks. A full in-depth expose would take a book of at least 600 pages.

I think that subject would make a good doctorate thesis for some aspiring university student who wouldn’t mind wallowing in the mire for a few semesters. The warming-up master’s degree could cover the big side issues, like how much Max Baucus really pays for his haircuts.

Walking down Main Street on voting day produced several hot tips from the voters.

One observant citizen told me, “Clinton is so sure of winning he has started dating again.”

Conversation at the coffee shop swung around to the Hill vs. Yellowtail contest for our single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Four of the guys felt Hill’s romance with a cocktail waitress was not as black a mark as Yellowtail beating his wife and not making child support payments. Two more assumed that position on adultery when they learned it was Hill’s ex-wife who fed the hot romance story to the media.

The conversation somehow then strayed onto legitimate reasons for having a romance with someone who works in a cocktail lounge, and it was unanimously agreed that some of the nicest – and well-built – people follow that line of work.

One fellow pointed out that working in bars is the best-paying job some women can find, and there is certainly no valid reason for picking on cocktail waitresses. After hearing more testimonies, our wise and mature group decided there were plenty of ladies out there serving drinks who would make darn good congresswomen. A committee was formed to compile a list of those candidates for the elections of 1998.

A new arrival to the coffee circle thought we were discussing social affairs and put in a plug for the upcoming annual lutefisk dinner in Bigfork. One fellow said he might go, but he wasn’t eating anything soaked in lye. Oysten Boveng was asked why the fish is soaked in lye, and he told us the custom was started by St. Patrick in Ireland when the raiding Vikings were eating all the potatoes and fish. The Irish decided to ruin the fish by soaking it in lye, but instead of hating the stuff, the Norwegians liked it even more.

Getting back to our discussion of current politics, the coffee gang decided to ask all congressmen to just eat lutefisk until they passed some intelligent legislation.

G. George Ostrom is an award-winning columnist. He lives in Kalispell.

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