Mr. Cope's Cave: Just When You Thought Your Legislature Couldn't Get Any Dumber...


Do you know the value of a continuing series? Huh? Do you?

OK, now that you've asked...

The value of a continuing series is that it places separate events, anecdotes, news items and stories into a broader perspective, as being under one heading demonstrates an alikeness in things that would otherwise be considered isolated or unrelated to a larger reality.

Follow that?

In other words, by linking seemingly disparate incidents under a single title, the writer is attempting to prompt the reader to think, Whoa, is that a pattern I'm starting to see? For that reason, choosing the title for a continuing series is of paramount importance, in that it should clearly state exactly what the pattern is that the writer is trying to get the reader to recognize.


For example, it would have defeated the purpose of my continuing series "Unbelievably Stupid Things Gun Nuts Do" if I had instead named it "A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Another Preventable Tragedy," or "The ABC's of Not Shooting Yourself or Your Children." You understand that, don't you?

OK, with all that said, I will now introduce my new, continuing series, and I'm hoping you will understand immediately, from the title alone, the more complete picture I will be tracing with every new entry into the series. I call it "Just When You Thought Our Legislature Couldn't Get Any Dumber... ," and by now you should suspect it will focus on the appalling stupidity of some of the men and women Idaho citizens have elected to office and sent to the Capitol to meddle in matters that ultimately, to one degree or another, affect all of us.

Incidentally, whenever I start a new continuing series, as I am wont to do every week or two, I always worry a little that there won't be enough items come up to keep the series alive for more than a couple of episodes. With "Just When You Thought Our Legislature Couldn't Get Any Dumber...," I have no such worries.


The Official State Dumbshit

This first chapter of "Just When You Thought Our Legislature Couldn't Get Any Dumber..." involves an incident I hope you've heard about. For the past five years, Ilah Hickman, from right here in Boise, has been petitioning the Legislature to approve the Idaho giant salamander as the official state amphibian. She has researched the animal, its habits, its natural range; she has recruited teachers and herpetologists to support her position; and she has taken it upon herself to try to convince men and women, who often have nothing on their minds but their own aggrandizement, that awarding this designation to such a lowly creature is a worthy cause.

That's not the dumb part. In fact, I regard that as the smart part of this story, without which any portrayal of abject stupidity would suffer for the lack of a comparison.

It is remarkable that anyone would dedicate so much time and energy and passion to promote something—a species of bird, a variety of flower, a certain rock, a certain tree... whatever—to official recognition as a unique representative of the state he or she calls home. After all, it's really just another way of showing pride and appreciation of our surroundings, isn't it? A genial and gentle way of declaring, We like living here, and this critter is one of the reasons!

But the fact that Miss Hickman is only 14 years old, and was only 10 when she began this mission of hers, I find to be inspiring. There may be some hope for us yet, I think, with youngsters like Ilah Hickman around

Of course, all of this is contingent on a blighted wad of soul-impaired legislators not stepping on her harmless dream like they were stomping out a cigarette, and for no more of a reason than what even a salamander would understand was sheer shitheadedness.

Last week, just as they have for the preceding four legislative seasons, the House State Affairs Committee dismissed Ilah's proposal in a 10-6 vote, snuffing out its chances of going to the full Legislature. The dominating argument for this rejection, you can probably guess, given the sort of ideologically-driven automatons the Republicans send to Boise every January. In spite of their own state attorney general saying it couldn't happen, in spite of there being no indication or evidence it has ever happened, the majority of GOP Borg on the committee voted against the proposal for fear it would be an opening for the dreaded feds to come in and give the little giant salamander some sort of protection.

Heaven fucking forbid.

But I still haven't come to the stupidest part of this story... the absolute rancid-brained-iest, low-voltage-thinking-iest, HE SAID WHAT!?-iest aspect of this incident... the part where I submit the name of the individual I feel best deserves consideration for the title Official State Dumbshit...

...all of which—due to an already over-abundance of words—I will delay until Monday to deliver.