Press Talk: Is it just gorilla dust and ant poop?

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photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor.

This is a fact, I tell ya!

Buffoonery abounds from both liberals and conservatives in our government.

We need both views, for sure, but sometimes their stupid stuff just gets to me. So I write about it.

What surprises me, though, is it isn’t that big a deal to some folks. Why is that?

Maybe my buddy Tim Eyman has the answer. Yes, that Tim Eyman. Eyman is a likeable enough character if only, according to some, he weren’t trying to bring civilization — as we know it — to a grinding halt.

He’s the Washington state guy who — through the petition process — somehow manages to get on the ballot reams of stuff that politicians just hate. Stuff that essentially ties the politicians’ hands from digging deeper into our pockets.

Why, just the other day, I was chatting with my buddy Tim (have you noticed that everyone is my buddy?), and he gave me his thoughts on my irritation with political buffoonery.

“It’s gorilla dust,” he tells me.

What the … . OK, I’ll explain that later. First, a little background:

I’ve been on some of our local political characters for taking advantage of our taxpaying residents.

Like my buddy Rep. Jim Moeller, my favorite liberal. He gets his laundry done courtesy of the taxpayers, eats a bunch of meals courtesy of the taxpayers and — because it wasn’t quite enough — our political representatives up in Olympia will now be getting even more cash every day with an increased per diem. (“Per diem” is Latin for “squeezing the taxpayers daily until they can barely breathe.”)

When I ask Jim about all of this, he does have a bemusing response.

“I didn’t take a vow of poverty; I took a vow of leadership.”

Hey, that’s pretty good, Jim. But could you spare a buddy a dime? I’ve got a kid in law school.

Then there’s my favorite conservative, Sen. Don Benton. My buddy the Donald — who says he fights hard to keep taxes down — makes sure that doesn’t come into play when taxpayers are lining his pocket. He, too, loves the free meals and all the other perks of the job.

And, of course, he’s double-dipping by collecting both his state salary and his county environmental services director salary. This guy is so amazing he’s actually able to do both jobs at once! Keep those taxpayer dollars rolling into his bank account, please.

But back to my buddy Tim. When I asked Tim — since he also is big on saving taxpayers money — how he could stomach his ally Benton squeezing taxpayers, he gave me the “gorilla dust” line.”

Tim didn’t invent the line, but he buys in to its meaning. Throwing dust is a diversionary tactic that gorillas use when they are fighting. In other words, it doesn’t really mean much.

“We’re being attacked by alligators. You’re tripping over ant poop. Small, petty stuff.”

OK, so I do like the ant poop line, as well. But I reminded Tim that President Nixon was essentially brought down by ant poop.

He conceded the point, but it didn’t move him off his stand.

When I asked Tim if he was concerned that associating with the likes of Benton would damage his reputation, he had an answer even better than the one Jim gave to me.

“What reputation?”

Love it!

OK, here is where Tim and I disagree: What he calls small, petty stuff, I call a meaningful look into the character of people. And frankly, his line is exactly what politicians — both liberal and conservatives — want us to believe. Hey, what’s another $40 or $50 a day for a legislator’s per diem? Who cares if one politician gets another $1,000 or $2,000 a month in a pension, even though most private-sector workers don’t even have one. They all hope you believe it’s just ant poop or gorilla dust so they can keep doing what they’re doing.

Me? I’m stayin’ on ’em. I don’t buy the shenanigans no matter who is involved or how small they want you to believe it is.