We laugh at politicians. We laugh and we point and we shake our heads and no matter how hard we try, we cannot insult them. I do not, of course, mean to imply that they're all buffoons. But you know what they say: The 99 percent of politicians who don't have a soul ruin it for the rest of them.
Eventually in this rant I will get to our state's own Dan Maes, who was deemed by the voters to be not entirely a moron, but pretty close. Somehow, Maes did not get the message.
But let's go back. It started in the modern era, perhaps, with Richard Nixon, a terrific liar and cheat who, upon being forced out of the presidency in August 1974 with impeachment nipping at his heels, climbed the steps to the helicopter on the lawn of the White House, paused at the copter door, raised his right hand and flashed a V for victory.
And we all laughed and pointed and off he went, fleeing a possible prison sentence with a song in his heart and those two fingers in the air.
More recently we had Saddam Hussein. He was a real hoot. During his trial for genocide, he decided to protest something or other and announced the start of a hunger strike. He gave in the next day. Jailers said he missed one meal. We laughed at him. When he was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, Hussein demanded to be executed by firing squad, not hanged like a "common criminal." We laughed at him again. (People in other countries not only laughed but also threw their shoes at their TVs.)
But laughing and pointing at politicians is not just a national or international event. We do it right here in our own village. Take Lionel Rivera. Please.
Our mayor became quite full of himself back in 2006 and decided he should take his great mind and leadership skills to Washington, D.C. He ran for Congress. Two months before the Republican primary, he hired a polling company. Apparently as some kind of a cruel joke, the polling folks reported that Rivera had a big lead over his five opponents. Rivera screeched and thumped his chest like a gorilla. And I apologize if I have offended any gorillas.
Then, in the August 2006 primary, Rivera got thrashed. Eventual congressman Doug Lamborn gave him a beating. He also lost to guys named Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn — the latter of which 87 percent of us believed to be an expensive English car.
Of 385 El Paso County precincts, Rivera won seven. Running as a conservative Republican in El Paso County — mecca for conservative Republicans — he lost 378 of 385 precincts and got 12.86 percent of the vote.
Normal people would be humiliated. Here's what Rivera said, in explaining why some 87 percent of the people voted for someone other than him: We like him so much we didn't want him to leave for Washington.
"I feel very proud of being able to lead the city," Rivera said. "I see no reason to change that."
We laughed and pointed.
And now we have Dan Maes. He ran for governor of Colorado earlier this year. He did not win, which is like saying football player Michael Vick didn't like dogs. In an election won by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Maes finished a very distant third, with just 11 percent of the vote. He was beaten not only by Hickenlooper, but also by career racist Tom Tancrazy, whose entire campaign platform consisted of telling us how much he hates Mexicans.
And now, thanks to our local daily newspaper — the Denver Post — we find out that not only did Maes lose big, but he piled up very questionable mileage charges doing it.
Seems that Maes paid himself and family members more than $90,000 during the campaign, with $66,235 of that listed under mileage charges.
Here now, his explanation: "We put in an enormous amount of travel. That's how we accomplished what we did."
This accomplishment, we remind you, was finishing third in a three-horse race. To put it another way, if Hickenlooper, Tancrazy and Maes were grouped together inside a horse costume, Maes would have been the ass.
Which is, you know, just a metaphor.