Writing the last column of 2017, there’s not much more I can say to this most insane of years other than “Thank You.” When you have to sit down at a computer every week and pound out 1,000 words on what’s currently stuck in your craw, it helps to have plenty of fodder. And as craw fodder goes, 2017 is going to be tough to beat.
Of course taking center stage was the Robert Bentley Administration finally being reduced to the smoldering pile of ashes we’d all seen coming for quite some time. The Luv Guv gave us more twists and turns than a team of Motown backup singers, only in far less appealing fashion.
Who would have thought ridiculous things like using a state-owned helicopter to fly the governor’s wallet to the beach would become “real news?” Or discussions of what Wanda could or couldn’t hear from her desk? Oh, Wanda’s Desk! Thank you 2017 for Wanda’s Desk! I’m toasting Alabama’s most famous office furniture with a room temperature bottle of Old English polish.
We learned about the governor sending his goons skulking about to try to chase down a naughty tape secretly recorded by the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Luv Guv. The tale of former Alabama Law Enforcement Association Director Spencer Collier — the state’s top cop —confronting a state employee who Bentley thought might have a copy of the tape became legendary in 2017.
And just when you thought the insanity had reached the boiling point, Big Luther Strange trundles on over to the Governor’s office, runs a greasy finger across the top of Wanda’s Desk, sits down with the Luv Guv and weasels himself an appointment to the United States Senate. Not even the writers of “House of Cards” would have dared to push a story line so incredibly stupid.
Anyone watching this in a TV show would have said, “Come on! They want us to believe a sitting attorney general, whose office is investigating the governor, went over and met with that very governor to get appointed to the U.S. Senate? This show’s jumped the shark!” In the world of fiction, no one would believe power madness, but it really happened. In 2017!
Of course this opened the door to even more insanity.
Bentley cuts a deal to leave with little more than a slap on his wrinkly butt. New Gov. Kay Ivey moves the special election up, leaving Big Luther with far less time to imbed himself like the political tick he is, and the race is on. Washington insiders, recognizing Luther as their kind of political whore, dump tens of millions into attacking any reasonable challenger, only to see their boy whipped by the most outlandish candidate Alabama’s Republican Party could muster.
But we all know that story. Still 2017 provided a few other absurd side notes.
As Big Luther’s candidacy was going down in flames — and anyone with half a brain could tell you weeks ahead he was going to lose — someone somehow convinced the President of the United States to fly into the state and lay hands on this terminally ill candidate.
Think about that. Only in a year this bizarre would anyone with any political savvy tell their boss/client, “Hey, this guy’s swirling down the toilet. He’s definitely going to lose. Let’s get down there and endorse him!” Even more amazing is the president, who imagines himself as a political seer of sorts, agreeing to do it.
So, after that happened, the entire political theater repeated itself. Roy Moore has women crawling out of the woodwork talking about how he hit on them, and allegedly even attacked them, when they were teens. We hear insane things such as Moore admitting that as a 30-something attorney he was asking girls’ mothers for permission to date their daughters, women claiming he cruised the malls looking for teens and one who even said he called her out of math class to ask for a date.
Again, it sounds like something from a script that would wind up in a Hollywood dumpster.
Given all of that, somehow someone AGAIN convinced Donald Trump to fly to Alabama (or at least close to it) at the last minute to lay hands on a dying candidate. He flew down to endorse a guy being accused of dating and possibly attacking teenage girls! A candidate like that should be political uranium. But not in 2017!
Maybe the craziest part of this wild year is a Democrat got elected to the U.S. Senate to represent Alabama. I’d love Danny Sheridan to have given us the odds on THAT one a year ago.
Even as we prepare for the MoonPie drop and to welcome a new, almost certainly less insane year, the ridiculousness of Robert Bentley continues. Just a few days ago the internet was abuzz with a video of the good doctor pitching his skills in the exciting field of “cool sculpting.” So the year that began with him fighting for his political life ends with him freezing fat.
Locally we’ve had our own insanity, which came primarily in the form of former Mayor Sam Jones waiting until the very last minute to launch probably the worst political campaign ever run by someone who once actually held office.
In Fairhope, new Mayor Karin Wilson and the City Council continued fighting to such a degree that as we end the year, they will be at best four months late passing the 2018 budget. At best.
Not to be left out, Mobile’s City Council has now been fighting for more than a month about who will fill the mostly ceremonial position of council president.
I imagine Old Man New Year 2017 walking off the stage with a flowing, rainbow-colored beard, tongue piercing, ear gauges the size of pancakes and a forehead tattoo that says “Suck It!” Chubby little Baby New Year 2018 has big shoes to fill. Impossibly big shoes to fill.
Still, there’s some potential. We’ll have statewide elections this year for everything from the governor’s office to state legislature. Spanking Judge Herman Thomas has already tossed some sort of moist cloth into the ring to run for a House seat, so that offers some real potential insanity.
So while I can’t possibly hope 2018 will make my job as easy as it’s been this year, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Bentley’s fat sculpting will at least be worth one column I’m guessing.