Dear reader, I’ve got some good news and some bad news — and then more bad news.
You figure out which is which. As I submit this column on May 13, Oregon’s Republican senators had escaped from the witness protection program we created for the superminority in Salem. The Legislature ground to a halt because of a strike.
Twelve Oregon Republican senators disappeared. They denied the supermajority Senate Democrats a quorum; you can’t conduct business without one. They had been missing since last Monday. But I found them.
I contacted Gov. Kate Brown out of my deep-felt personal concern for the missing Republicans: especially Herman “Bat Shit Crazy” Baertschiger, the alleged so-called leader of this gang of fools. I liked Bat Shit, personally. I’d had a beer or two with him in the past at Magoo’s Sports Bar, a secret unofficial Senate caucus office in Salem, and I can certainly verify that he’s crazy.
Being that Kate is as concerned about the public safety and general welfare of the super-minority Republican Party as I am, she sent me out, instead of the state police, to find those buggers.
Why me? Probably she knew about my sordid past as a member of the Butt-Faced Caucus that included several subversive Republicans — Randy Miller and Tom Hartung come to mind — who met back in the early part of the 21st century at The Ram Brewery in Salem (the other secret unofficial Senate caucus office in Salem).
Most likely she didn’t want to find them. Why should she? They are rebels without a clue, or a plan. But I’m getting ahead of my story.
So I began my pursuit. I carefully researched the 12 missing senators’ psychological profiles. That was pretty simple because 10 of them are white conservative males. I rewatched my old training film — The Pink Panther — from my days as a Lane County deputy sheriff. (Yes, I was a deputy once.) I played a hunch.
And I found all of ’em, cheap bastards, in a single room with two double beds at a Motel 6 in Denver, Colorado! They were a pathetic group, stoned out of their minds on The Mile High City’s newly legalized magic mushrooms.
Bat Shit looked terrible — sunken eyes with encrusted drool unequally distributed over lips and cheeks — and babbled incoherently. So I applied my past emergency training as an EMT and immediately started Bat Shit on an IV of IPA. Voila! I didn’t even have to force it down his throat as beery water torture. He copped to everything.
No, the Republicans didn’t have a plan. Yes, the only thing they hoped to achieve was a shutdown of government. (Sound familiar, Republicans? Sen. Mitch McConnell? President Trump?) Yes, they thought by withholding funding from public education they could extort the supermajority. Indeed after a few days of psilocybin and PBR and a few days caucusing in the Motel 6’s expansive breakfast lobby, they felt comfortable issuing a set of demands that would bring them back home.
Using my old Inspector Clouseau interrogation training I forced Bat Shit to give me the list of his demands. In addition to trashing the Student Success bill, HB 3427, without providing any alternative for funding public education, he admitted he also wanted to kill state Sen. Floyd Prozanski’s omnibus gun safety bill, kill House Bill 2020, the cap-and-trade-bill, weaken the vaccine laws and even carve out a tax break for his trucking industry buddies. “Yeah all of those,” he said. “Everything’s fluid right now.”
I reported my findings to the governor. First, she deputized the Hot Air Society and we issued subpoenas demanding extradition of these cowardly crustaceans from Colorado. But Kate ultimately concluded that we didn’t want any of them to return to Salem. Like their Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate, they are totally delusional. Maybe psilocybin is a psychiatric medication after all.
Why negotiate with extortionists holding the state hostage? Without a plan? At least when we Democrats walked out in 2001 we had a strategy to prevent Republican gerrymandering during redistricting. And we had a Democrat governor. By the time you read this the clowns will be back in the hoosegow at the Capitol, and we all wasted a week for nothing.
Finally, on a serious note, kudos to both the Democrats and a few Republicans for passing House Bill 2217 over to the Senate, which will tweak Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act to allow for a variety of means by which terminally ill Oregonians could take lethal medications.
Former state Sen. Tony Corcoran of Cottage Grove is former legislator and a retired state employee.