By Gordon Dillow
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
A a journalist, l sometimes ﬁnd myself wishing that l worked in Arizona.
lt’s not that I particularly like Arizona, understand. Sure. Arizona is nice if you like Gila monsters and cactus and heat that could blister the paint on a Buick. But let’s face it — Arizona isn’t L.A.
So why would I want to work there? Simple. lt‘s because Arizona journalists have Evan Mecham as their governor. While we California journalists have muddle along with boring old Governor Duke.
You’ve heard of Gov. Evan Mecham, of course. The guy who abolished the Martin Luther King holiday in Arizona? Who defended the word “pickaninny”. Whose administration nominees included a suspect in a murder case and an education adviser who said it’s OK to teach kids that the world is ﬂat? ln short, the governor whose every word ls a gaffe, and whose every oﬂicial act is at best ill-eonsidered, and sometimes even indictable?
Now, for a lot of citizens. having a governor like Mecham would be a nightmare.
But we journalists look at things different than decent citizens do. We have a vested interest in political sleaze, governmental malfeasance and chaos of every description. And it galls us that after God created the perfect journalists‘ governor. He inexplicably wasted him on Arizona.
Mecham’s indictment on campaign-related fraud and perjury charges last week was the last straw. l immediately called an Arizona journalist pal of mine to complain.
“That’s right.” he said smugly. “We have the worst governor in the country. It’s great! Every time he says something we have to re-make the front page! Dumb things roll out of his mouth like gum balls from a candy machine! This guy’s so sleazy he gives toupees a had name!”
“I hate you,” l said.
“Sorry, buddy,” he said. “But think about it! First we had the recall drive. Then the impeachment investigation in the legislature”.
And now he’s been indicted! Unless he resigns — and please God, don’t let him resign — we’re looking at months of big fat juicy stories. Mecham is a journalist’s dream come true.”
“Could we borrow him,?” I asked.
“Borrow Mecham?” he said”.
“Just for a little while,” I said. “Just let him be the governor of California for a couple months and give us a few juicy stories. And while he’s gone. we’ll let you have the Duke.”
“No way!” said my friend.
“C’mon,” l said. “The Duke’s not so boring.”
“Oh yeah?”, said my friend. “Name one dumb silly, ridiculous thing he’s done recently.”
l had to think for a minute. Even if you don’t agree with the Duke. you have to admit he doesn’t do a lot of dumb, silly, ridiculous things.
“Well,” l said, “last year he went to Japan and put on a Japanese robe and cracked open a barrel of sake with a mallet. He looked like an extra in a community theater production of ‘The Teahouse of the August Moon.‘”
“Kids’ stulff,” my friend said.
“And the year before that,” I said. “he was photographed wearing a ‘Duke/86′ headband and dark glasses. Boy! Did he look dumb?”
“Sorry,” he said impatiently. “What if we throw in Tom Bradley as acting mayor of Phoenix?” I said.
“Forget it. pal,” my friend said. “There’s no way we’re gonna give Mecham up. He’s ours!” “OK. keep your lousy governor!” l said. “But remember, you may have the worst governor in America, but we have the biggest earthquake stories.”
“Big deal.” he sniffed. “As a journalist, l‘d rather have Evan Macham than the San Andreas Fault any day.”
As journalist. so would I. As a citizen. though.l‘d say it‘s a toss-up.