Off The Record: Christmas gift ideas for the gifted in sports and politics

December 20, 2004|HERB BROCK

Only five more shopping days till Christmas, but that's plenty of time to purchase presents for the people who have everything. After all, these folks already have everything, so a nothing gift will be OK.

If you are Kentuckians and your favorite past-times are like mine - politics and sports - here are some people who should be on your shopping list. If you haven't thought of a nothing present to give them, here are some suggestions:

* U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning - A map of Western Kentucky. The ultra-conservative western part of the state kept your lucky hide in office. You managed to turn off a lot of Republicans as well as Democrats with your paranoid, body-guarded, stay-away-from-the-media-and-the-masses, squirrelly campaign. You turned a virtual no-name mountain doctor into a household word, at least in Central and Eastern Kentucky. While he fell just shy of winning, Dan Mangiardo is Kentucky's version of Illinois' Barak Obama; both are hot new stars of the Democratic Party.


* State Sen. David Williams - A lump of Kentucky coal - dug by a gay miner. A big reason what should have been a Bunning walk in the park turned into a race to the finish line was because of reaction to your incredibly bigoted, insensitive comments. You tried to smear Mangiardo with conservative voters by suggesting he is gay. He denied that he is gay, but I'd take a Mangiardo who is "limp-wristed" and "light in the loafers" over a guy who is mentally twisted and light in the head.

* Gov. Ernie Fletcher - Tuition and books for Leadership 101. You and your administration managed to squander a lot of momentum and good will earned with your big election victory with missteps on several issues, including the budget and health insurance for teachers. You have some good ideas, including the crying need for some sort of tax reform, but you need to exercise leadership. That doesn't mean bragging about your alleged mandate. It means working with the Democratic leadership whenever possible for common goals, like passing a budget.

* State Rep. Mike Harmon - A throne. That old swivel chair you use in the House of Representatives chamber doesn't fit your stature as a representative who could well have the seat for life, if you want it. You have successfully taken a seat that had long been in Democratic control in a Democratic district and made it yours and the Republican Party's. You won election two years ago and won re-election this past fall with an impressive victory over a very strong Democratic candidate.

* Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld - a dune buggy and a one-week vacation in the desert outside Baghdad where you can ride around in it.

Your lean-and-mean approach to the war in Iraq is running as thin as the armor on the vehicles our poor soldiers must drive. The idea that we have put our overworked and overextended soldiers in harm's way without all of the necessary equipment ranks right down there with our government's not providing the most effective and efficient possible Veterans Administration to serve the men and women who served their country.

* U.S. Sen. John Kerry - Your very own camouflage hunting outfit.

Teresa thought it was tacky for you to rent the camo outfit you sported during a campaign stop in Ohio, and so do I. She could've bought a million of them for you, plus a few bottles of ketchup to flavor those geese that gave their lives for a blatant "I'm a regular guy" photo op. A related bonus gift: free lessons in the way we hicks out in the hinterlands of the heartland talk. Your "where can I get me a hunting license around here" was OK but it doesn't sound too authentic when it is spoken with a Boston Brahmin accent.

* University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino - A radio with the dial permanently set on WHAS.

Your rant over the University of Kentucky regaining top status over U of L with Kentucky's blowtorch 50,000-watter, WHAS of Louisville, was about as disingenuous as your hand-wringing over having to face the likes of a "tough" Tuskegee State or "scary" Bilgewater U. You condemn WHAS for a lack of loyalty to its home city. Hmmm. Surveys show there as many or more UK fans in Jefferson County as U of L backers. You blast WHAS going for the big money. Hmmm. Who was the guy who left UK for $50 million?

* University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith - A second national championship.

You now are in your eighth year as UK coach and you have done an extraordinary job. You have an incredible winning percentage. You have practically owned the Southeastern Conference in the regular season. You have practically made the SEC tournament trophy the property of UK. You have done very well against rivals Indiana and North Carolina, although you could do better against you know who. And you have had high seedings in the NCAA tournament, earning No. 1 seeds the last two years. But you have been around here long enough to know that many UK fans believe that 1998 NCAA trophy you won is getting a little dusty.

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