Another month, another chance for our 50 states to prove that they can make politics way odder than whatever we’re seeing in the presidential race. Let’s look what happened in eight special states in May.
Texas: A conservative use of commas
The Texas Republican Party’s new platform fell victim to bad grammar earlier this month. In the part of the platform headlined "Homosexuality," they wrote, "Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans." Which, as NPR points out, sounds like they're saying that most Texans are gay — an outcome that has prompted a thumbs-up from God, just as the founders knew would happen?
It seems like this is probably not something that Texas Republicans like Ted Cruz actually meant to say. NPR copy editors looked at the sentence and decided that "the real problem was ... the verb ‘has.’ It's singular, so the rest of the sentence ends up referring to the noun ‘behavior’ instead of ‘truths.’" Or as Texas Monthly summed up this unexpected lesson on the importance of punctuation: "You’ve got to watch out for those pesky commas, always trying to push their ‘gay agenda’ on all the other punctuation marks."
Pennsylvania: Officials save locals from horror movie living next door
This may have a tenuous connection to politics, but it is the greatest local news segment of the month. Let’s call it a story of "constituent services." Pay close attention to the descriptions of each of the people interviewed.
Maine: Governor vetoes constituent’s doggie dreams in the name of Veto
As we noted in our podcast The Stakes, Governor Paul LePage got a new dog and named it Veto in honor of the fact that he (LePage, not the dog) has vetoed more bills than any of his predecessors. Since the podcast was taped, there has been a development in this story: Apparently the Humane Society where LePage found the Jack Russell terrier mix broke the rules by letting him adopt the dog before he (the dog, not LePage) was officially offered up to the public. One 22-year-old woman who had already seen the dog on Facebook was exceedingly angry when she didn’t even get a chance to compete for the cutie, who was originally named Jasper. According to the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, "She wanted to adopt the dog as emotional support after a traumatic assault and had planned to wait in line for him." She cried after she saw the news about the newly christened Veto.
LePage’s spokesperson told the Portland Press-Herald, "The governor named him Veto because he is the mascot of good public policy, defender of the Maine people and protector of hard-working taxpayers from bad legislation. He will have a more prominent role in the administration than Baxter, perhaps even delivering vetoes to the second floor." It is not clear whether Veto has been informed of his enormous responsibilities, and if he is prepared to deal with such a high-pressure job as a two-year-old.
Louisiana: Leave the comedy to the comedians
Last week, the Louisiana State Legislature debated a bill that would raise the age limit for strippers from 18 to 21. Republican State Representative Kenny Havard offered an amendment to said legislation: All strippers in the state should be under 28, and under 160 pounds. He quickly withdrew the amendment, which he called a "joke" about overregulation. Most of his female colleagues did not find his attempt at humor amusing. He later voted for the bill, despite his grumbling about regulation.
The sponsor of the stripper age bill told The Advocate, "I know him to be a real gentleman with great respect for women. It’s unfortunate things don’t always come out as intended, and it was ill-timed."
Eighteen of Louisiana's 144 state representatives and senators are women, making it the worst state in the whole country when it comes to electing women to state legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers.
Florida: Florida Man is bad at celebrity impressions
A person claiming to be Illinois Senator Dick Durbin kept calling a collection agency in 2013 and 2014, adamant that some guy named Sidney Hines had definitely paid off nearly $6,000 in home loans, and that any bad behavior noted on his credit report should be removed. Authorities quickly figured out that the person doing the frantic calling was not actually an elected official, but rather — wait for it — a 67-year-old Florida man named Sidney Hines. Anyone reading this thinking that impersonating random senators sounds like a great way to get out of trouble, think again: Hines could face up to 15 years in prison.
Vermont: "It's going to be raining dollars."
Former Red Sox and Expos pitcher Bill Lee — you might know him better as the Spaceman — just announced that he is running for Vermont governor this year. This is not his first political campaign; in 1988, he ran for U.S. president with the Canadian Rhinoceros Party. "I want to do away with chairs," he told one newspaper at the time, "get a country that can stand up for itself instead of sitting on their rear ends waiting for politicians [to] tell them which way the wind is blowing." In other years, the Rhinoceros Party platform included a promise to repeal gravity, ban bad winters, and "provide higher education by building taller schools."
This year, Lee is running with the Liberty Union Party and is definitely trying to capitalize on Berniemania, judging from his interview with local news station WCAX. "I'm Bernie-heavy, I'm not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie," he said. "If you want to see money come down from the 2 percent, we're going to need umbrellas when I'm elected, because it's going to be raining dollars."
In 2014, Liberty Union’s gubernatorial candidate wore jorts to a debate, so Lee has big shoes to fill.WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-
Arizona: Scottsdale silences Satan
The City Council in Scottsdale, Arizona, has decided that it is no longer interested in letting the Satanic Temple’s Arizona chapter lead its scheduled prayer at a meeting in July. The prayer plans had already been approved twice, but the city has since decided that "representatives from institutions that have a substantial connection to the Scottsdale community" should only be allowed to take part in the meeting. According to the Arizona Republic, the group "planned to urge Scottsdale listeners to embrace a ‘Luciferian impulse’ before closing the prayer with ‘hail Satan.’"
Earlier this year, the Satanic Temple — which is mostly interested in pushing the separation of church and state — basically compelled the Phoenix City Council to get rid of spoken prayers at meetings altogether. Instead of letting the Satanic Temple give a prayer, the council embraced allowing for a moment of silence at the beginning of meetings instead.
Meanwhile, in California, a Satanic Temple organizer is running for a state Senate seat.
Minnesota: Today, we celebrate our Beyoncé Day
On Monday, Minnesota celebrated Beyoncé Day. The singer/lifeforce was in Minneapolis for a concert, and Governor Mark Dayton decided to commemorate the occasion with an official proclamation. However, as The Star-Tribune notes, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the state government was spurred into action by proximity to greatness. The declaration came "just hours after the legislative session collapsed in dramatic fashion without a deal on transportation funding or a public-works bill." And unsurprisingly, when a local news station posted the news on Facebook, plenty of commenters appeared to note that no, they couldn’t even enjoy this minute moment of levity.