Politicians make for quotable quotations

Ned Cantwell

Kids say the darndest things. So do politicians.
I am inspired by Billy McKibben, the colorful former state senator from Hobbs. That southeastern New Mexico community, its economy once pumped flush by oil production and supply companies, is drilling for new economic vitality in the fertile fields of the gambling industry.
At a recent public comment session on a proposed racetrack, McKibben told the crowd he can recall a time when Lea County’s idea of heavy economic development was a fat lady selling Avon products.
OK, Billy didn’t say fat lady. He said overweight lady. But, hey, I’m a journalist.
Then there’s Carlsbad mayor Bob Forrest, a tireless promoter of his community. Bob is famous for quotable gems.
The mayor is at the forefront of a move to bring to town a bomb factory. He was explaining to the Albuquerque Journal Carlsbad’s great success with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. “If you like WIPP,” he told the reporter, “you gotta like plutonium pits.”
No, I don’t, Bob!
We asked former state Rep. Jack Skinner to recall his favorite quote from legislative sessions in the past.
It was an impassioned plea by a former representative who was angry with the press and who was gunning for a tax on newspaper sales.
“Miissstteer Speeaaker,” Jack remembers the fellow intoning, “I’ve been cuckolded, this legislature has been cuckolded, the state of New Mexico has been cuckolded!”
After the House reconvened following lunch break, Jack said, the legislator apologized to the floor for not understanding the meaning of the word, “cuckold.”
The special session of the legislature that convened last week grew its own crop of colorful political rhetoric, not all of which I pretend to understand.
Some of our legislators are heavily influenced by movies. About tax reform, Majority Whip James Taylor said, “It’s like having a 1976 Mustang in your carport that hasn’t been used in years. Then you get ‘Too Fast, Too Furious’ (Governor Bill) Richardson flooring it and it’s going to burn out. What we need to do is rotate the tires.”
Not be outdone, Minority Whip Joe Thompson said, “The session is going to be like the bus in ‘Speed.’ You have to maintain a speed of 50 mph or the whole thing blows up.”
Really?
Roswell Rep. Dan Foley sees himself as a champion of tougher sex offender laws, and was miffed that the governor had not called for his insight to this problem. He thinks maybe Richardson is stealing his thunder. “Some people want to show up late to the party, they see a mob running down the street and they want to get to the head of it and call it a parade.”
One of my favorite politicians is former Gov. Bruce King who accused predecessor David Cargo of removing just about everything from the governor’s office, including a carving of an “ol’ woodpecker.” That, of course, was the roadrunner, our state bird.
Bruce also once famously warned that impending legislation would “open a box of
pandoras.”
I hope I have not done that here. And I hope I have been grammatically accurate because, as Winston Churchill once said, “ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which we will not put.”

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso.