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Basketball a religious experience

OFF THE RECORD: UK

August 04, 2003|HERB BROCK

Observations, illuminations and other stuff, written on the back of the cruise ticket I used for a recent vacation (OK, my wife and I rode a pontoon around Dale Hollow Lake):

BEING A UK FAN CAN BE DIVINE... For some University of Kentucky basketball fans, rooting for the Wildcats can be a religious experience. Bill Blythe of Danville recently witnessed just how religious the experience can be.

Writes Blythe: "I was in Bardstown on business (recently) and I'd heard some things about the cheese made at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Ky. ... The Catholic monks at the abbey are Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly called Trappists. They are cloistered away from the world and spend their lives in contemplation, prayer, silence and labor.

"As I waited for the gift shop to re-open after lunch, I was in a reception area for tourists and retreatants and I couldn't help but overhear the monk at the reception desk, as he talked to a tourist from Cincinnati:

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"'(University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino and UK coach Tubby Smith) are both world class coaches, but I just like Pitino's style of play better than Tubby's. It's more exciting.'"

Concludes Blythe from what he had heard: "Only in Kentucky!"

WELCOME BACK, GATEWOOD... It's an election year in Kentucky but something - make that someone - had been missing. It seemed that in at least every other election the name of Lexington attorney and hemp industry and pot legalization advocate Gatewood Galbraith would appear somewhere on the ballot. But he wasn't there in the spring, and it appeared we'd have to go the whole cycle without him.

But, at the last minute, Gatewood has jumped into the fray and is trying to get on the November ballot.

Galbraith has run for governor, agriculture commissioner and congressman, to name just a few posts. He has run as a Democrat and as an Independent. He recently mounted a petition drive to get on the ballot as an Independent running for attorney general. While he's run for different offices and changed affiliations, there's been one constant: Ol' Gatewood has been trounced each and every time and look for the same whipping to take place this fall.

But on his way to every blasting at the polls, Galbraith seems to have enjoyed the ride, and so have the people who have been present at his speeches. Despite the perception that his brain is shrouded in fog from years of pot smoking, Galbraith is a very effective orator, mixing in humor, country witticisms and anecdotes with very powerful and compelling arguments in support of his largely libertarian agenda.

Every time I have been at a public event where Galbraith has spoken - and that includes two Advocate Rallies on the Square here in Danville - he has generated a tremendous response, even from supporters of other candidates. An outsider totally unfamiliar with the political situation in Kentucky likely would go away from one of these events thinking Galbraith was the most popular politician in the state. Unfortunately for Galbraith, the rousing responses have never translated into votes. He's rarely gotten more than 5 percent of the ballots in his races.

His poor performances at least partly have to do with the fact that many people have regarded him more as a clown than a serious candidate. Even if he were a clown, and he is not, this state could do a lot worse in its selection of top officeholders, and often has.

EARLY "POLL" SHOWS CHANDLER WITH SLIGHT LEAD... As a public disservice, I occasionally conduct telephone polls during election years. The poll is extremely random and unbelievably unscientific. I call 50 to100 phone numbers in our five area counties and ask whoever answers the phone whom they will be voting for, taking their word on whether they're registered. The question for the first poll of this fall's campaign season deals with the gubernatorial race between Democrat Ben Chandler and Republican Ernie Fletcher. I got responses from 50 people (after calling around for a fairly long time to find enough people who knew at least some Kentucky politician's name, whether that politician was running or not, or even dead or alive.)

Here are the results:

Chandler - 22 votes

Fletcher - 16 votes

Former Republican Gov. Louie Nunn - 3 votes

Former Democratic Gov. A.B. "Happy" Chandler - 2 votes

Republican US. Sen. Mitch McConnell - 2 votes

Former First Lady Martha Wilkinson - 2 votes

Danville High School football coach Sam Harp - 1 vote

Boyle County Judge-Executive Tony Wilder - 1 vote

Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton - 1 vote

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