Thursday, December 29, 2005

Political observers try to predict next Altman gaffe

Below: Altman, with new hat
Breast-feeding legislation seems likely source, agree experts

B & P News - Columbia

As the onset of the next legislative session nears, experts from around the state have been focusing their energy on predicting the next gaffe by Representative John Graham Altman (R-Charleston). Most observers agree that the next blunder will somehow pertain to the public breast-feeding bill.

“Oh, definitely, the breast-feeding bill – he’ll find a way to put the shoestore in his mouth with that one,” said USC political science professor Bobby Blugranitte. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the words ‘tig ol’ bitties’ find their way into the legislative record this session.”

Other political scientists from around the state agree that the debate over public breast-feeding legislation will be -- like the domestic violence hearings -- a fertile chance for an Altman faux pas.

“John Graham will definitely oblige us with an off-color comment,” said Hoyt Butter, political scientist at Furman University. “I could see him referring a question to ‘Representative Emerson,’ and then when asked ‘Who’s that?’ saying, ‘Emerson big boobies, lady,’ or something to that effect.”

Still, the exact nature of the next Altman gaffe remains uncertain, even to the most astute political spectators.

“My initial instinct was that Altman would reference the widespread 'Got Milk?' ads, but then I realized that may be too subtle,” said Francis Marion University’s Pete E. Rivers. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to refer the bill to the ‘Titty Committee’, a play on the grammar school classic ‘Itty-bitty Titty Committee.’”

Rep. Altman was unavailable for comment, because he was at a Charleston Spencer’s Gifts retailer purchasing a hat.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Deep Thought for Christmas

If a kid ever asks how Santa Claus can live forever, I think a good answer is that he drinks blood.

-Jack Handey

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Weekly Re-Hash

"I believe in preparing the soil conditions..."

Here are Gervais' choice cuts from the SC blogosphere this week:

I meant to include this film about fainting goats from the LaurinLine in last week's rehash, but I forgot. This is the Citizen Kane of stiff-legged goat flicks.

Both Palmetto Observer and the Crunchy Republican addressed their disbelief in Bono's new friendship with Jesse Helms, but neither went for the obvious headline, "I can't believe the news today..."

And SC Hotline pointed readers to for Aaron Gould Sheinin's conversation with Sanford, who put my mind at ease about our unemployment situation:

"One of the hottest topics is the larger theme of economic development. ... I believe in preparing the soil conditions. And I think we took an important step toward getting soil conditions better in South Carolina."

Ah, yes, soil conditions. And I was all worried about unemployment.

One more thing: This site doesn't have one of those new-fangled trackers that lets me know from where the hell all you crazies have managed to steal internet access. I suspect, based on the nature of the comments, that a lot of B & P's readership comes from federal penitentiaries, neo-Huguenot nudist colonies, and Bob Jones University. But I can't prove that. All Gervais gets to see is the total number of visitors each day, and I think I like it that way. Just thought you'd like to know. Especially Joe Hinson from Gilbert -- you spend way too much time on this site, Joe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Historic B-52 found in Lake Murray

Below: a diver investigates the sunken B-52
Divers discover rock icon on the bottom of man-made lake

B & P News - Lake Murray

This week a team of divers reported yet another significant find on the floor of Lake Murray -- one of four historic B-52's that mysteriously disappeared from the pop music scene in the 1990's.

"We've been looking for this B-52 for a while, " said expedition leader Spence Dooley. "Since around the time Love Shack fell off the charts. We knew we were on the right track when we found a rare species of crayfish, known as the Rock Lobster, in the lake."

Dooley said he and his team had to "roam around the world" in search of the well-concealed B-52. The find is expected to lure dozens of inquisitive, flamboyantly dressed tourists to the Lake Murray area.

Though not asked for a comment, state GOP chairman Katon Dawson said the discovery of the B-52 was "a sign that the state's economy is picking up steam." Other signs of improvement Dawson noted were the "Hot Doughnuts Now" light at Krispy Kreme and the friendliness of the squirrels in his backyard.

Democratic Party director Lachlan McIntosh, also not asked to comment, shimmied vigorously about his party headquarters before offering, "Tin roof...rusted."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Michael J. Fox assails Lovelace

Doctor’s entire candidacy based on my 1991 film, says actor

B & P News - Columbia

Actor Michael J. Fox attacked Lake Murray physician and GOP gubernatorial candidate Oscar Lovelace last week for what he calls “theft of character.”

“Lovelace’s entire candidacy, right down to his hairstyle, is a rip-off of my 1991 classic, Doc Hollywood,” Fox told reporters in Los Angeles. “I mean, a rural doctor with a family practice, making a big transition in life -- sound familiar? Hell yeah it does, because it’s my freakin' character!”

The movie at the heart of Fox’s criticism features a young doctor who is sentenced to work at a small town hospital in South Carolina after causing a traffic accident. Lovelace said he enjoyed the film, but the actor is off base in his criticism.

“Any similarities between myself and Dr. Benjamin Stone are merely coincidental,” said Lovelace as he sat on the hood of his freshly waxed Delorean. He then ran his fingers through his hair and adjusted his necktie. “I’m just a country doctor, raising my four children: Alex P., Mallory, Jennifer and Andrew.”

Prosperity's Festus Bedenbaugh, a long-time patient and friend of the physician, says the charges lack merit.

“I’ve known Oscar for a long time, and he's definitely an original,” said Bedenbaugh. “One time, we were playing basketball together and he all a sudden pretended he was turning into a werewolf. It was hilarious. I don’t know where he comes up with these things.”

Lovelace says he is focusing on his gubernatorial campaign rather than the actor's comments.

"The important thing right now is getting elected to serve South Carolina in the metropolis of Columbia," said Lovelace. "In order not to get caught up in a fast-lane lifestyle of booze and drugs like Jamie Conway did in Bright Lights, Big City, I'm going to need some good advisors, like Lewis Rothschild in The American President."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

This week's re-hash

Get the Tomahawks ready, boys - there's a war on Christmas!

Here's Gervais' picks for the funny (some intentionally, others not) posts from around the SC political blog circuit during this more serious (and rightfully so) week:

The Body Politic did a creative piece on the War on Christmas. Sounds scary, but I'm not buying it. I know people want to get as much mileage out of the culture wars as possible, but there is no "War on Christmas" around here. There's nothing wrong with saying "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." Gervais says, if you want to feel persecuted, become a Wiccan and move to Great Falls. The Body Politic sets up a pretty nice straw man, though, and beats him down mercilessly. Full disclosure: my uncle was a straw man, so that sort of thing always makes me mad.

SC Hotline posted a press release called "Economy Picking Up Steam", from GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, about how great our employment situation actually is. Sorry, Mr. Silver Lining, I know it's your job, but let's put the pom-poms away until the state is no longer third from last in unemployment. If 1 in 15 folks weren't unemployed for the holiday season... I'd be sis-boom-bah-ing right along with you.

Wag the Blog made an interesting comparison between Saddam Hussein's trial and Hollywood Squares. It made me think of Bruce Vilanch, which made me think of Jim DeMint, which makes me think I ought to see a professional.

And the Crunchy Republican asked, will the real Gervais S. Bridges please stand up? So I did, thinking it would be ironic and funny. I also swiveled my head around real fast every time I read the words "the man behind Gervais S. Bridges" in Aaron Gould Sheinin's article in The State. I'm a wacky guy like that.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Blind Final Jeopardy Clues

Like I said, Blind Final Jeopardy is pretty hard. Here are the clues...

1. This organization pledges it will strive for "clearer thinking... greater loyalty... larger service, and... better living" in that order

2. A Phillips 66 in Cloquet, Minnesota is the only functioning gas station designed by this man

3. Capt. Robert Fitzroy of this ship argued that its scientific discoveries supported the Bible

4. According to Consumer Reports, this phenomenon is responsible for over 500 furniture related injuries each year

Scroll down a few posts to check your answers...

Five questions with... Craig Melvin

For the inaugural "Five questions with..." I'd like to introduce a man who needs no introduction. He is in your living room nearly every night, and has yet to comment on your new rug, yet you always invite him back ... He is, the inimitable, the native son, the man... Craig Melvin.

1. People say you could be a national news anchor if you wanted. What's keeping you in South Carolina? Is it the barbecue?

People are kind to say that. However, I’m not sure if people are saying that or if it’s mainly my mother and girlfriend. I’d love to anchor and report the news in a major market one day, but for now South Carolina is home. I stay for two reasons. First of all, I’m contractually obligated =) Also, I love working in the city where I was born and grew up. When I graduated from Wofford a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. I came back to Columbia with my government degree in hand and started working at WIS as a photographer. Originally I planned to only do it long enough to decide how I wanted to spend my professional life. I didn’t know I’d fall in love with telling stories. I’ve stayed here because WIS took a chance on a young guy who didn’t have solid journalism credentials and because everyday I continue to learn a great deal from my colleagues. Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to take all I’ve learned and land an anchoring job in a major city. Until then, I’ll continue to love working in South Carolina at WIS.

2. What is your favorite barbecue restaurant and why?

There is another thing that keeps me here---the barbecue. It’s the best in the world! I live downtown, so I get over to Palmetto Pig about once every six weeks. If I went more, I’d be as big as a house. Its fried chicken is the best in Columbia, but I think the main reason I go to the pig is because of its close proximity to where I live, work, and play. However, my personal favorite is Myers B-B-Q in Blythewood. Often times, mustard-based barbecue is too much mustard and not enough barbecue, so I’m partial to the vinegar based barbecue. (I apologize to fans of the ketchup based. I don’t even consider that legitimate barbecue) At Myers, it’s perfectly succulent and tender every time. There’s also a personal connection. I went to kindergarten with the son of the owner. It’s great barbecue from great people. If you haven’t tried it, you’re letting the best in life pass you by.

3. Is there any chance we'll one day see the name Craig Melvin on a ballot, besides Best of Coumbia?

I think good politicians and good broadcast journalists have something in common. They’re both true public servants. Good politicians make laws and use their public platform to address and advance issues for the common good. Good broadcast journalists use their platform and ink to illuminate issues for the common good. There’s something else good politicians and good broadcast journalists have in common---they’re truth tellers. Unfortunately, they have something else in common. There are not enough good ones in either group. There are far too many TV news reporters and anchors who love the idea of being on TV more than the idea of reporting the news and telling compelling stories that bring important issues to light. We’re supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted, but too many of us like the lights, make-up, and cameras more than the truth-seeking and story telling. There are far too many politicians who regularly trade truth-telling for rhetoric, too many who like the idea of being elected and using their office to advance a commercial enterprise, and not enough who genuinely care about their constituents and the public good. However, we’re to blame for the collective lot of public servants we have. We’ve created a political system where the cost to enter is staggering---both financially and personally. I’m a broadcast journalist. I wonder if I’ll ever able to pay the price to enter. Not to mention, I enjoy watching and reporting from the sidelines. That being said---who knows? Stranger things have happened.

4. You've done a lot of reporting about our public schools of late. Where do you think we should focus, as a state, to make ours a first-rate education system?

The best part of being an anchor is the opportunity you’re given to tell the stories you’re most passionate about. There’s no issue I’m more passionate about than public education. Perhaps it’s because my mother has been a public school teacher or administrator for nearly 20 years or perhaps because I’ve been inside so many of our schools and seen the promise and the problems firsthand. 36 school districts are suing South Carolina claiming the state doesn’t provide a minimally-adequate education as required by the state constitution. These are rural, largely black, school districts who say, among other things, they can’t generate enough property tax money to create good schools. A lawyer for the state told me in an interview once that if money bought student achievement, every school district in every state would be spending the same amount. There may be a funding problem in South Carolina, but there’s a bigger problem-parenting. The correlation between student achievement and parental involvement is undeniable. Parents who are actively involved in their child’s student life are more likely to have children who achieve. There are countless education experts and studies who concur, but more importantly, if you ask any teacher or principal in any public school in this state, the overwhelming majority will tell you that parents make the difference. You need the technology in the classrooms. You need the teachers with the advanced degrees. You need children to show up on the first day of school reading on grade level, but most of all, you need involved parents. As a state, we’ve got to figure out a way to break the cycle of mediocre parenting. If we can create an entire generation of engaged parents, SAT scores will go up, drop out rates will go down, and we’ll have a public education system that we can be proud of.

5. If Ben Tanner was stuck in Punxsutawnie, forced to re-live the same day over and over until he got it right, what song would play on his alarm clock-radio each morning?

Tanner wouldn’t use an alarm clock to awaken. He’s got two young children.

Craig Melvin, you had me at "Palmetto Pig." Gervais says, I'd cast a vote for this gentleman no matter what political party he represented, and I'd watch him no matter what network he's on. Thanks, Craig!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hudson's Smokehouse

Hannah Jane, Petunia, and I piled in the wagon this evening to try out Hudson's Smokehouse on Highway 378 (aka Expect-a-Butt-ton-of-Traffic-Around-Sunrise-and-Sunset Boulevard) in Lexington. Right next to Ballbusters Paintball...

This place was good, but we were lucky to have dressed Petunia -- with seven teeth in her whole head -- warmly. There is no "indoors" at Hudson's. There was a propane heater, though, and a nice outdoor sink for hand-washin'. It happened to be a great night to eat outside.

The pulled pork was high-quality, and there was an array of sauces: Ultimate Southern Comfort (vinegar, it was okay), Gold Southern Comfort (spicy mustard, it was great), and Red Southern Comfort (didn't try it).

The standout for me was the hash. It had a sweet taste to it. And the collards were spicy as all-get-out. The slaw wasn't the best, though. It was like my brother Fripp's prom date: to chunky, and not very sweet. My only other gripe is that Hudson's is not a buffet.

Gervais says, give Hudson's a try if you're out towards Lexington. I think you'll find it pretty good.

Make sure you drop by Barbecue & Politics tomorrow for the inaugural edition of "Five Questions With...", where Gervais asks the best and the brightest Sandlappers the questions you want answered about barbecue, politics, and life. This week's guest is a great guy, a fellow you probably know on a first name basis, and a staple in the Bridges household.

Finally, rest in Peace, Governor Campbell. Thanks for all you did for my family.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blind Final Jeopardy answers

1. 4H

2. Frank Lloyd Wright

3. the Beagle

4. Will Folks

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sanford’s fly remains at "half-mast"

Below: Sanford's fly
Powerless governor seeks legislature’s approval to raise zipper

B & P News - Columbia

The zipper of Governor Mark Sanford’s pants remained at half-mast for the 10th consecutive day Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the governor's office.

“I'd like to zip it up," said Sanford at a press conference, safely behind a podium. "Only thing is, I lack the constitutional authority to just raise and lower my zipper all willy-nilly. No pun intended.”

The governor said the power to reposition his zipper to and from half-mast, like the power to raise and lower flags on state property, properly falls under the purview of the state legislature. He is confident he will be granted the authority to raise his zipper shortly after the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

“It seems the governor has ignored one of the first tenets of politics: ‘X-Y-Z',” said snickering USC political science professor Bert Stickle. “That is to say, examine your zipper. I submit that his critics are correct, in light of the situation, when they say that his elevator is not quite at the top floor.”

Sanford first learned of the status of his fly during an unproductive meeting with his staffers to discuss an appropriate way to honor civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

“Are you afraid of heights?” spokesman Joel Sawyer asked the governor, stifling a laugh. “Because your zipper sure is.”

Sawyer then implored the governor to look up, look down, and finally, to look all around. When pressed for a reason, Sawyer stated “your pants are falling down.” An embarrassed Sanford returned to his seat, which he refused to give up for the duration of the meeting.

Legislators say they will consider an emergency session at the State House only in the event of sub-freezing temperatures, or if Sanford decides to “go commando.”

The Thicket is the ticket.. for a nice barbecue sandwich

Lizard's Thicket has a pretty mean little barbecue sandwich! I know you probably go there for the "meat and three" option, and I do too, but this is worth a try if you need a quick pulled pork fix without spending a lot of money.

I first tried it last week at the Airport Boulevard location, and I was surprised. I tried it again after church Sunday when me and Petunia, with seven teeth in her whole head, hit the drive-thru of the Knox Abbot location. This isn't the best way to go about it, because they put the sauce (mustard based) on the sandwich for you instead of in the little plastic cups, and they apply it more liberally than the governor applies tanning oil.

By the time I got home, the bottom bun had soaked through. It was "soppin' wet," as we say in the Bridges household. No worries. I took a piece of whole wheat bread and slapped it on there like a fresh Pampers diaper on Petunia. Gervais says, if a barbecue sandwich tastes this good with whole wheat bread involved, it's worth a try.

The Thicket is the best convergence of reptiles and 'cue since Wall of Voodoo sang the immortal lyrics, "I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana..." I loved that tape. Can anybody out there name the song?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bauer named in Shortt steroid investigation

Below: Bauer, in late August
Inset: Physician James Shortt
Lt. Governor may have purchased performance enhancing drugs from West Columbia doctor

B & P News - West Columbia

Federal investigators claim that Lt. Governor Andre Bauer may have been prescribed illicit drugs from West Columbia physician James Shortt, according to a statement released Saturday.

"It is clear that Bauer has both visited Shortt and reached unprecedented levels of hunkiness," said Special Agent Jim Harbloski. "What isn't clear is whether he will let me touch his abs, stroke his chin, or perhaps squeeze his biceps."

Harbloski said he will pursue a warrant for further investigation, but Bauer says performance enhancing drugs are not part of his repertoire.

"Whether I'm driving through downtown Columbia or lifting weights, I'm always trying to push things to the next level," said Bauer. "I did visit [Dr. Shortt], but it was because of a knee injury."

Sources close to Bauer say he has been complaining of various health problems since he took the reigns of the Office on Aging earlier this year.

"He's been griping about ringing in his ears, taste bud suppression, and all sorts of other silly ailments," said Bauer's Chief of Staff, Michael Easterday. "He's also been eating dinner around four in the afternoon, and pulling his socks up to his knees."

Bauer's office says the steroids may have actually been issued to Carolina Panthers backup linebacker Grovener "the Lieutenant" Bowers. Bowers was arrested last month for ripping the head off a squirrel at a Charlotte park.

"This is a case of mistaken identity," said Bauer. "I would never buy steroids from someone named Jimmy Shortt. I'm all about shrinking the size of government, but that's about the only thing I want to shrink, if you catch my drift."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sanford enlists in Salvation Air Force

Below: Sanford in full Salvation Air Force dress
The elite should not shirk their quasi-military duties, says governor

B & P News - Columbia

In a surprise move this week, incumbent Governor Mark Sanford got a leg up on Newberry physician Oscar Lovelace by enlisting in the Salvation Air Force. He was sworn in as a Captain late Wednesday evening.

"This isn't about politics. I wanted to set an example for my boys, like I did last primary season," said Sanford Thursday. "The elite shouldn't shirk their quasi-military duty."

During Sanford's first bid for Governor, he stunned his primary opposition by enlisting in the Air Force Reserve at age 41. Some of his fellow reservists now say the Salvation Air Force is a good fit for the governor.

"I've never met him personally, but he seemed to be a solid quasi-military professional," said 1st Lieutenant Bingham Bartlett, member of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, via telephone from Iraq. "At least on paper. He transferred right before I got sent over here, so it's really hard to say."

Sanford's current immediate supervisor in the Air Force Reserves agreed.

"I've never met him personally, but he must be a great officer," said Major Tom Bickle of the Homeland Disaster Preparedness agency. "You have to be to get the kind of job he has."

Sanford said he would not evade service if called upon by the Salvation Air Force during the holiday season.

"I've always said I'll go if called, whether it's the reserves or the Salvation Air Force," said Sanford. "Whatever hotspot I'm deployed to -- Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Lowe's -- I'll make the sacrifice. That's what service is all about."

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said Friday that he was proud of his boss's decision, even if it might tear him away from his gubernatorial duties.

"This is the caliber of service we have come to expect from our Republican leaders," said Sawyer. "He's signed onto one of the finest quasi-military organizations in the country. He's dying to jump into the fray, even with the knowledge that he may face minor frostbite or bell-induced carpal tunnel syndrome."

Another former Air Force Reserve colleague agreed that Sanford is ready for storefront duty.

"Sanford," Capt. Phil Skyler, also of the 315th, wrote by email to B & P News from an undisclosed location in Iraq. "That name definitely rings a bell."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Re-Hash

Here's this week's serving of Gervais' favorite posts from the SC political blogs:

The LaurinLine discusses the Peach Council license plates proposed by Senator Moore. Sources say that NORML is lobbying the senator for an amendment to permit their own plates. Working title: the Peaches and Herb Act*.

SC Hotline featured an interesting link: an anti-tax group in education clothing calls Republican Bob Staton "a wolf in sheep's clothing." This little piece of attack mail (pictured, in part) might have saved Karen Floyd a few stamps, but I don't know if I'd be eager to have South Carolinians for Responsible Government's support. Gervais says, getting an endorsement from SCRG is like getting an engagement ring from Will Folks.

Speaking of Folks, The State ran his latest guest column, which basically says the governor shouldn't be held accountable for the state's economy unless he's a Democrat. It's a literary faux pas to compare two works of fiction by the same author, but I found it much more stimulating than "My Side of the Domestic Violence Story."

As for the most clever title of a blog post, Wag the Blog's "Ideas? Proposals? Moore is less" just barely edged out Laurin's "Having no peach license plates is the pits!" I hear Wag's next post will address the other Dem candidate, and will be called "What you talkin' bout, Willis?"

Have a super Friday,


*Not to be confused with the Herb and Peaches Resolution of 1977, which recognized the Allman Brothers as "the best Southern Rock band on the planet."