Friday, November 03, 2006


"That Used To Be Funny"

The Times-Union

"So let me get this straight," one of my friends from New Orleans said, "your politicians are talking to our politicians?"

That's right, I repeated. It's the Chamber of Commerce's annual "leadership trip." In 25 previous trips, local delegations have traveled everywhere from Boston to San Francisco to see how other cities do things. As we speak, I said, our city leaders are in New Orleans, meeting with your city leaders.

The uproarious laughter pretty much said it all.

He had a point. Going to New Orleans to study emergency preparedness is kind of like going to Chicago to figure out how to make sure you have enough ballots for every voter. Dead or alive.

Every place in America thinks it has wacky politics. And although our state certainly can trump most with a full house of hanging chads and butterfly ballots, nobody beats Louisiana.

Long before William Jefferson was stashing cash in his freezer, this state was producing Huey Long and Edwin Edwards. The latter was a four-term governor who inspired bumper stickers saying, "Elect the Crook." And voters did. In fact, Edwards once said the only way he was going to lose an election was if he were found in bed with "a dead girl or a live boy."

This is the kind of politics that prompted Billy Tauzin, a former Louisiana congressman, to say: "Half of Louisiana is under water, the other half is under indictment."

That used to be funny.

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