Dubya and Dudley deliver lotsa laughs


Expanded from the 1-7-2001 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

President-select George W. Bush and Nevada Gov. Dudley Do-Right have alleviated the fears of comedians and satirists. For awhile, I was not alone in worrying that these guys might actually backtrack on their long histories of catatonic conservatism and actually move forward. Not to worry.

Dubya and Dudley shared face time last week to discuss Nevada's status as test market for the world's nuclear suppositories. Don't look for any pronouncements of hope from the D-Squares. Dubya already appointed defrocked Michigan Sen. Spence Abraham as secretary of energy. Abraham has long favored sticking Nevada with a permanently glowing nuclear neon reminder of our political puniness.

During the campaign, wishful promises from Gov. Guinn and gaggles of GOPers were enough to convince a thin plurality of Silver State voters to give Nevada's electors and thus the presidency to Bush. Now more than ever, the nuke train's a-coming, courtesy of the pachyderm party.

To refresh non-elephantine memories, Nevada became targeted for nuke waste in 1983. Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., at the height of power with his sleepy pal Ronald Reagan encamped in the White House, declared that the position of the majority of the Nevada congressional delegation would be "wait and see." His newly-elected GOP minions, Sen. Chic Hecht and Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, Laxalt's former office manager, shut up and agreed with the boss. (Editor's note: For more information, use the search engine at the home page of this site. Sweep for Laxalt, Vucanovich and Hecht.)

Rep. Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas, was left twisting alone in the nuclear wind. Washington took Laxalt's position as indicating a division of Nevada public opinion on nuke dumping, making us the only state showing any support. Sen. Bennett Johnston's, D-La., infamous "Screw Nevada" bill followed soon thereafter. Johnston was apparently Dubya's early choice to become energy secretary, but turned it down.

Apparently nuking his Nevada supporters is not enough. Bush the Lesser is bringing back the ghost of the late James Watt by nominating Watt protege Gale Norton as secretary of the interior. Moose, birds, bunnies, owls, fish, bears, trees, environmentalists and Indian tribes have formed a buying co-op to order Tums and Tylenol by the truckload.

Bush will probably stick it to his supporters in the Silver State's gambling industry by signing a ban on interstate sports betting.

Notwithstanding all the above dimbulbs of due derision, my favorite among Bush's appointees is Secretary of Labor-designate Linda Chavez. She'll fit perfectly with the racist John Ashcroft as attorney general.

Under Reagan, the National Labor Relations Board became the enemy of workers. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was converted into a roadblock to justice. Unions and minorities called for abolition of both because of the Reagan-imposed perversions of purpose.

Chavez was appointed staff director of the civil rights commission during Clarence Pendleton's chairmanship early in the Reagan years. The late savings and loan executive got the job after letting Reagan confidante and future attorney general Edwin Meese III default on payments for years on end.

During an interview on the PBS program Tony Brown's Journal in 1981, I saw Pendleton, a black man, announce his priority in office: stamping out discrimination against white southeastern Europeans — Greeks and Italians — two of the most successful immigrant groups in the country!

I didn't know I needed the help. Like I said, these guys will make us laugh till we cry.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? When this column went to press last week, Sparks resident Michael Farnworth was fighting for his life at Washoe Medical Center.

Farnworth, 23, survived a fall of 105 feet — more than 10 stories — when a gear sheared on the cherry picker he was riding to the top of Topsy the Clown in front of Reno's Circus Circus Hotel-Casino. He had to be cut out of the basket by paramedics. The Dec. 27 incident left Farnworth with broken ribs, a broken hip, shattered elbows, brain swelling and severe internal bleeding. If he lived, he was expected to remain in intensive care for at least 10 days.

Last Sunday, he was moved out of ICU. On New Year's Day, he had improved so much that doctors could operate on one of his elbows. He got up and walked around on Tuesday.

Cliff Usher, his boss at Young Electric Sign, Co., Inc., of Sparks, was amazed at Farnworth's resilience.

"He had tubes sticking out of him. When I got up to leave his room, he extended his hand to shake with me," Usher marveled.

Farnworth's fiance, Lisa Robertson, told the Reno Gazette-Journal "he shouldn't be alive...We see this as a sign he's meant to do something great."

YESCO human resources director Elsa Olive says "in addition to arranging a collection for Mike, we are covering all of his and his fiance's living expenses until he gets back to work. We are self-insured for worker's comp, so there will be no red tape for Mike or his family to deal with. I am handling all the claim processing, which already has been completed without incident."

Last week's story generated pledges of support for the Farnworth family from across Nevada and as far away as Detroit. Anyone wanting to contribute may send a check to Ms. Olive at YESCO, 775 E. Glendale Ave., Sparks, NV 89431; (775) 359-3131. Donations may also be left with Wendy Jones at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 401, 2713 E. Fourth St., Reno, NV 89512; (775) 329-2566.

To everyone who sent up a prayer, thanks for a great start to a new year.

Be well. Raise hell.


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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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