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Press Talk: Of auto love and tough questions

The Columbian
Published: June 22, 2012, 5:00pm
2 Photos
Almost like my Plymouth Duster.
Almost like my Plymouth Duster. Photo Gallery

There’s always something special about your first love.

The relationship is new and exciting and when you really get rolling, well, there’s nothing quite like it.

Oh, we’re talking about cars, right? Why, yes, we are.

First, I should say I am not a car guy. I’ve been driving around the same beat-up ’86 Honda Prelude since ’86.

And all I know is how to change the oil. Well, technically all I know is how to ask a guy to change the oil.

Before that Prelude was my 1975 love, a Plymouth Duster. Got ‘er in ’75 when I landed my first reporting job.

What a beaut. But when the floorboard finally rusted out in ’86 because of all of the salt in coastal Florida, I gave it to my sister for a few bucks.

Miss that Duster.

• • •

I’ve already established I don’t know an axle shaft from a camshaft but that doesn’t mean I don’t like gawking.

So I found myself out at the Beaches Summertime Cruisin’ car show Wednesday at Portland International Raceway.

Every Wednesday during summer Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches restaurant in Vancouver, puts this thing on.

I always keep my eye out for the two cars I’ve had.

Preludes? I suspect it will be a long, long time before I see one of those. But Dusters, now come on man!

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Then this Wednesday, as I moseyed toward the back end of a long line of cars, it was there. A Duster. Not sure what year it was.

I stood for a moment. Even touched its rear end. Those were the days.

Have you run into your first love lately? You might just find it at the car show.


Speaking of shows, what about no-shows? As in politicians.

It’s the political season. For most of us that means tuning in or tuning out the noise.

For a few of us here at The Columbian it means setting up editorial board meetings with the candidates.

Most politicians are good people and good sports. They understand the drill and know they often will get asked tough questions by the board.

Hey, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.

On occasion some politicians will decline our invitation to meet. This week, for example, Republicans Tom Mielke — the incumbent county commissioner — and one challenger, Darren Wertz, both opted to stay away. Democrats Joe Tanner and Ron Barca showed up as did Bob Freund.

It’s their choice, of course, but I think it says something when candidates don’t show.

Recently I had two liberal elected officials tell me they felt the questions I was asking them were “loaded.”

Of course the word “loaded” is well, loaded. I countered that I was asking them probing, tough questions.

I’m not suggesting conservatives or liberals should love tough questions. But I am suggesting they should accept them as part of the dynamic give-and-take in our democratic society.

Being a public official is difficult. Very difficult. And a part of that difficulty is being held accountable. Often with tough questions.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, or