Oregonians face a crucial gubernatorial election next week. How one of the candidates, Chris Dudley, Republican millionaire, tax dodger, non-voter, and former mediocre NBA center without one second of experience as an elected public servant or volunteer for a state or local government agency, qualifies to hold the state's highest office and oversee an approximately $17 billion budget baffles me. I mean, at least W. Bush ran a losing race for the U.S. House before being elected Governor of Texas!
Dudley hasn't uttered an original idea during the entire campaign. His debate performance was a cultural farce. Why is it that some people with a lot of money think they know how to govern? In my detailed study of American history I have yet to encounter a single successful example. They are very good, however, at enriching their friends, lecturing poor people to buck up, wrecking government, and then saying government doesn't work.
The other candidate, Democrat John Kitzhaber, a physician and former two-term governor of Oregon (1994-2002), seeks another shot at leading the state. His record of public service is long and distinguished. He's worked hard for Oregon, its people and watersheds. Some Republican commentators have criticized Kitzhaber for his statement that Oregon was "ungovernable" during his two terms, but those commentators have long forgotten the obvious truth: Oregon was "ungovernable" in that era because the Republicans who ran the Oregon Legislature didn't know how to govern.
In particular, the Republican House Speakers from 1991-2006, served, slavishly, nothing but corporate interests and the national Republican agenda. They wanted to turn Oregon into Houston. Hey, why not name the mountebanks and charlatans here, since these Speakers deserve full blame for trying — and nearly succeeding — to destroy Oregon's well-deserved reputation as a state to which other state governments once looked for innovative answers on a wide range of public policy questions?
Let the sorry roll call of House Speakers begin: Larry Campbell, Bev Clarno, Lynn Lundquist, Lynn Snodgrass, Mark Simmons, Karen Minnis. I can't think of a more pathetic bunch of losers in modern Oregon political history. They accomplished absolutely nothing. Might I add that virtually all of these Speakers ended up as lobbyists and that Oregon will never name a state park or even a urinal in a public restroom after any one of them? Maybe a clear cut or manure pond, though. I've got a couple of secluded spots on some of my favorite publicly owned beaches that I regularly piss on named after Karen Minnis, inarguably the worst Speaker in Oregon history. She would have sold our beaches to the highest bidder. When she heard the word McCall, the first thing that came to mind was a women's magazine. It should have been Tom, as in Tom McCall, the legendary REPUBLICAN Oregon Governor whose jock Chris Dudley isn't fit to carry with his teeth.
Might I also add that the rise of these Speakers exactly coincides with the rise in fortunes of Oregon's big time college football programs? The correlation is obvious. Go to BCS bowls. Build opulent athletic facilities. Make football coaches the highest paid public employees in the state. Cut school days and hospice care. Rah, rah!
For eight years, Kitzhaber's veto power was Oregon's only defense, hence the nickname "Dr. No." He labored as the heroic conservative, trying to conserve what made Oregon one of the most desirable places to live in North America. He never had a chance to lead or promote a legislative agenda because he had to counteract and counterattack a ship of fools. I, for one, will never forget his efforts. He literally saved Oregon. I want to see what Kitzhaber can accomplish with a more receptive legislature, or at least one with substantially more brain power that also doesn't think the height of civic virtue and caring for your neighbor is running the first down chains at a high school football game.
I'll vote for Kitzhaber and urge all Oregonians to do the same. You think Dudley's ever done anything even remotely hardcore Oregon since he's lived here? Kitzhaber does. All the time.
The Good Doctor loves his Wild Turkey or Maker's Mark. I'll bet anything Dudley drinks one of those flavored vodkas or Jell-o shots favored by the blow-dried and Botox scions of Republican lobbyists. And you know, he probably never buys his books at Oregon's indie bookstores. He's got Borders written all over him