Press Talk: A county bedtime story

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

Little Girl: Daddy, could you tell me my favorite bedtime story?

Daddy: But, Sweetie, I’ve told you that story so, so many times. Wouldn’t you like to hear another story?

Little Girl: No, Daddy. I love that story so much! Please?

Daddy: OK, but promise me this will be the last time. Promise?

Little Girl: I promise, Daddy. (Crosses fingers behind her back.)

Daddy: One upon a time, there was this wonderful place to live. Green trees, clean streams, good fishing, parks and wonderful people. Then one day, three men arrived. Everyone thought things would stay bright and sunny. But they didn’t. These three men were not so wise. It was mostly dark all the time, plus everyone shouted at each other.

Little Girl: What were their names? Daddy?

Daddy: Their names? You know their names, Sweetie. I’ve told you this story a hundred times.

Little Girl: Please, Daddy?

Daddy: OK. OK. Their names were Councilors David Madore and Tom Mielke. And state Sen. Don Benton. Madore and Mielke became known as the M&M boys. You know, the nutty ones.

Little Girl: How did they get that nickname Daddy?

Daddy: Well, someone who thought he was marginally clever at the newspaper called them that, and it just stuck.

Little Girl: That’s funny, Daddy. Did Don Benton have a nickname, too?

Daddy: Don Benton had one, too. He was known as “Boss Hogg.”

Little Girl: Why?

Daddy: I’m not exactly sure, Sweetie. He was quite bossy, especially with women. And he ate every free meal he could get his hands on. Sort of like a hog.

Little Girl: So what happened next, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, all three of them started doing stupid stuff. Lots and lots of stupid stuff. The local newspaper began covering it. Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mugs were made. There were lots of stories and editorials and columns. More and more of the community began figuring out these three gentlemen were doing more harm than good. Way more harm.

Little Girl: And …?

Daddy: And the community fought back. Things got so bad, Boss Hogg Benton was afraid to run for re-election. Plus, he lost his job over at the county because … well, just because. So he went to work for Donald Trump’s campaign.

Little Girl: That’s funny, Daddy. Did he really go to work for Donald Trump?

Daddy: Really.

Little Girl: What about the M&M boys? The nutty ones, right?

Daddy: Right. Well, Tom Mielke — he was always several bananas shy of a bunch — finally figured out he couldn’t win re-election, so he said “No mas.”

Little Girl: I don’t get the banana bunch thing.

Daddy: I don’t, either.

Little Girl: Well, what does “No mas” mean, Daddy?

Daddy: I’m pretty sure it’s Spanish for “When can I start collecting my big public pension?”

Little Girl: You’re funny, Daddy. What about the other M&M guy?

Daddy: Well, even though David Madore was the smartest banana in the bunch, he decided he would run for re-election.

Little Girl: There you go again with that banana bunch thing, Daddy. Did he win, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, he had about as much of a chance of winning as Mayor Tim Leavitt had of getting a 117 percent pay hike.

Little Girl: You’re really kidding now, Daddy. No one ever gets a 117 percent pay raise.

Daddy: Sometimes, Sweetie, you can’t make this stuff up.

Little Girl: OK. So how is the community doing now?

Daddy: Well, let’s do the math. Come January, David Madore will be out, Tom Mielke will be out, and Don Benton will be out. That’s a lot of missing bananas.

Little Girl: But when they’re gone, what bedtime story will you tell me then, Daddy?

Daddy: Don’t worry, Sweetie. Sure, those three gentlemen were low-hanging fruit, but all anyone has to do is reach a little higher. I’ll always find something to tell you stories about.

Little Girl: I’m tired now, Daddy.

Daddy: Me too. Sweetie. Me too. Good night.