Gov. Guinn: Dudley Do-Right defrocked as Nowhere Man


He's a real nowhere man,
sitting in his nowhere land,
making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.

— John Lennon & Paul McCartney

My wife had the right idea when I invited her to accompany me to Gov. Guinn's maiden State of the State address last Monday night.

"I'd love to go, but I love Ally McBeal more," she said. Turned out to be right, as usual. Network comedy offers much better writing. If the guv's handlers want to sell any more fantasy and fiction, they should hire some guys from Hollywood who know how to put on a show.

Kenny Guinn put on a cartoon. He opened by telling us what we were there for: "the budget."

Bull. I was there to respectfully listen to the new governor's view as to the current state of the Silver State. I didn't hear it. I got technocratic jargon cloaked in doom and gloom for the state portrayed by chamber of commerce types as the most prosperous in the nation.

Doesn't have a point of view,
knows not where he's going to,
isn't he a bit like me
and you?

NOWHERE MAN AS DUDLEY DO-RIGHT. "I will save you, Nell!" the cartoon Canadian mountie would shout as he galloped to the rescue while seated backwards on his long-suffering steed.

I found myself asking the distressed damsel Nell's old question:

Why does Dudley Do-Right always do wrong?

Twenty years ago, political commentator Jeff Greenfield gave the best political advice I've ever seen for newbie pols. First and foremost: don't reorganize the government.

"It is always such an astonishing waste of time that it prevents an incumbent from accumulating anything like an impressive record," Greenfield wrote.

President Jimmy Carter, Guinn's idol, reorganized to the point that he created a Department of Education and elevated the old Atomic Energy Commission to cabinet level as a new Department of Energy.

It came "with a budget of some $11 billion, more than the combined profits of the six major oil companies," Greenfield wrote in his 1980 bestseller "Playing to Win."

"It has also spent so much time moving furniture back and forth that energy policy has become nonexistent. One report told of regulations stalled for months because the office responsible for issuing them has been busy moving 19 times, often back and forth among the same three buildings."

Nowhere man, please listen.
You don't know what you're missing.
Nowhere man, the world
is at your command.

KENNY OF GOD. He giveth and taketh away. As I predicted, Guinn reverted to type during the first full moon of his governorship. Just as he did when he helped his predecessor and fellow Gaming Party governor cut the budget in 1991, Guinn took dead aim at the weak: babies, children, the physically and mentally disabled.

He announced major cutbacks for family outreach and children's health insurance early in his speech. A few minutes later, Guinn promised no one will be turned away. That's nowhere, man!

KENNY THE CRONY. While slicing money for the least among us, Guinn found more than a million dollars for the state nuclear projects office. I don't mind an entity charged with keeping the feds honest while they try to administer a high level nuclear suppository, but the history of that thing has been one of providing fat cat contracts to political hacks. I'd rather see the dollars go to help sick kids and new families.

Nowhere man, don't worry.
Take your time, don't hurry.
Save it all till somebody else
lends you a hand.

Guinn's square jaw and affected solemnity indeed reminded me of Canadian Mountie Do-Right. But the real Dudley would not have used affected gestures, such as presenting six black teens from Las Vegas as a de facto apology for politicking on Martin Luther King Day.

Then, Guinn promised them and all other Nevada students with "B" averages that their college educations would be paid for by money from the national tobacco settlement. Turns out that he could not make such a promise.

The feds may take the lion's share as reimbursement for Medicaid payments to care for cancer victims. The rest of the dollars are supposed to go to health care.

The tobacco deal is a deal with the devil anyway. It makes governments partners in the cancer business because the money comes from future profits extracted by hooking those same brilliant teens Guinn proposes to help. Nothing like well-educated addicts.

He's as blind as he can be,
just sees what he wants to see.
Nowhere man can you see me
at all?

PULLING A SNIDELY WHIPLASH. The guv leaked word that his speech would contain major tax reform. It didn't happen. We got a two-year study committee instead.

Guinn sees the same tax revolt I've reported brewing statewide and wanted to ride that horse in the direction it's already going. But Dudley got on backwards, as usual. He couldn't make the numbers work and remain true to the gambling industry overlords who made him their $6 million man.

When he said "no new taxes," he didn't need to add "especially on casinos." That's understood.

KENNYISMS. As an orator, the guv rivals Dan Quayle. (For proof, go to Guinn Watch.)

His first major speech arrived interlarded with regrettable laughables and one sobering reminder that scoundrels quote the admirable to sanctify the despicable.

"The time is always right to do what is right," Gov. Guinn said, expropriating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Guinn then promptly announced wholesale firings of state workers.

"Many good people with families will lose their jobs," he said. "I ask you to view these deep cuts with the same compassion as I do."

Beware. When someone says "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you," you can bet that it's only going to hurt you.

Dan Quayle, gearing up for a presidential run, recently asked people to join him in demonstrating compassionate conservatism. Guinn signed up early.

Nowhere Man will pay a price for putting babies on a diet while feeding us pie in the sky.

THE RETURN OF TRAVUS T. HIPP. Just in time to play bump and run with the 1999 legislature, the greatest talk show host in the world returns all too briefly to Nevada airwaves. After a six year absence, Hipp joins Bruce Van Dyke to analyze the news on Tuesday mornings at 8:30 on The X, KTHX 100.1 fm in Reno. Call CTX Mortgage at (775) 829-8555 and thank them for sponsoring the great one's renaissance.

Be well. Raise hell.


Copyright © 1982-2005 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 30-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and was campaign manager for Democratic candidate for Governor, State Senator Joe Neal.
Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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