I've lived just about all my life in southern California.
I figure that explains a lot. I figure that's about 2/3 of an insanity plea, right there.
The simple fact is that life is different here. We tend to think other people are just like us only they live in Alabama or Minnesota or Massachusetts. But that's wrong. We're different. Way different.
Other people live in places where there are seasons and weather and animals and water. We live in a giant plastic bubble constructed by Jesus in seven days 5886 years ago. Jesus was 14 when he did this and had been explicitly ordered by his Father not to do it; that's why he was punished by being sent to live on our planet, but not allowed to enter the plastic bubble and had to wander around in the desert with no AC and a wardrobe wholly unsuited to hot weather.1
I didn't even leave the state for college. I went to northern California for law school, and - make no mistake - while changing your residence from Los Angeles to San Francisco is comparable to changing it from Santa Monica to Pluto, it's STILL California. It's the same air2, the same water3 the same indigenous goofiness.
As near as I can determine, the difference between north of the Tehachapis and south of the Tehachapis is pretty much the difference between a porcupine and a platypus: The two aren't strictly related, but they were both rather clearly put on this planet by mistake.4
So imagine my surprise when I found out another state had produced this year's winner of the "Elections Always Prove Evolution is a Crock" Award for bizarre electoral behavior.
No, I'm not referring to the Mark Foley Watch-Me-Turn-The-Two-Party-System-Into-One-Party-and-a-Wake debacle. Floridians are not eligible for this competition. We pretty much just retired the trophy to Florida six years ago, and we no longer let them take part. Letting Florida participate in a contest for the most lunatic election behavior just turns everybody else into also-rans.
And I'm not referring to whatever state comes up with the tired old Electing-a-Dead-Guy routine this year. That's been done to death5. And besides, ever since Missouri elected the deceased Mel Carnahan over incumbent John Ashcroft in 2000, we've all come to the realization that the dead guys are usually a better choice anyway.
Given my choice between an incumbent and a recumbent, I will always assume I can save myself a lot of grief by going with the guy who can't put his hand out and won't make a pass at the externs. I not only would have voted for Carnahan, I would have taken time off to work on his campaign. I think this century would be going a lot better if we had elected NOTHING BUT dead guys.
So in my book this is no longer bizarre behavior.
But I digress. Back to the Stupid Human Election Tricks.
This year's prize goes to Oregon.
Now I know this will cause griping about favoritism in the other states. Oregon is, after all, pretty much California Lite. Their famously misguided decision to open their southern border to immigration between 1975 and 1985 has turned the whole state into a cross between Walton's Mountain and the Haight Ashbury. They oughta change the name of the place to Ore-ganja.
In the 2000 census, 31% of the adult population of Oregon listed their occupation as "retired hippie." They will doubtless be the first state in the Union to have a governor named "Crystal" or "Evening Star."
Their affinity for and proximity to Californian lunacy thus gives them a clear leg up in the contest. But until they actually get enough votes on the petition to change the state capital's name from Salem to Wicca, we have to let them compete. And this year, they competed at a level that is truly remarkable for a state that is still two movie star governors and two movie star airports behind us.
I refer, of course, to the judicial election fiasco extraordinaire between Leslie Roberts and Youlee Yim You.
This one is complicated. Explaining this one is like trying to diagram a sentence with three indirect objects, two subordinate clauses and a gerundive. You're gonna need three sheets of paper and a protractor. Go ahead; I'll wait.
Okay, sharpen your pencils; here's what we've got. Youlee Yim You and her husband lived next door to the Robertses in Portland. Then, in 1998, the Yous sold the Portland house and moved - first to New York and then to California.6
But the Robertses missed them. When the You home in Portland came back on the market in 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts7 sent the Yous emails urging them to move back.
And they did. In January, 2004, the Yous bought their old house back and once again moved in next door to Justice Armstrong and his wife, Ms. Roberts.8
Shortly thereafter, Youlee Yim You applied for a judgeship. So did Leslie Roberts. The SAME judgeship.9
When they were interviewed for the position, Ms. Roberts suggested the governor's office might want to CAREFULLY look into whether ALL the candidates met the state's THREE YEAR residency requirement. THREE YEARS. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
Somehow the governor's staff failed to take the hint. Apparently, when they checked, they saw that Ms. You was living at the same address now that she had lived at a dozen years earlier and didn't realize she had been wandering in the desert like Jesus10 and only recently returned to Portland. Governor Ted Kulongoski11 gave the position to Youlee Yim You.
Oregon's system is apparently like ours12: Ms. You was required to run for the judgeship to which she'd been appointed at the next general election. That's this year. But when she filed for the seat, in August, she STILL hadn't been living in Oregon continuously for three years. She was still five months short of complying with the residency requirement.
But, as you might expect in a judicial election, no one caught it. No one, that is except the neighbor lady who knew EXACTLY how long Ms. You had lived in the house in Portland because she had watched from her front porch as they unloaded Ms. You's sofa and her refrigerator and her dishes two years and seven months earlier.
Leslie Roberts knew.
Ms. Roberts filed for the same seat eight days later, two days before the filing period closed, and sent a complaint to Oregon's secretary of state complaining that the other candidate - HER NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR, whom she'd begged, pleaded, cajoled and importuned to return to Portland - did not meet the residency requirement for the position and was therefore ineligible to run.
Leaving Ms. Roberts the sole candidate for the office.
And sure enough, the Secretary of State conducted a 48-hour investigation13 and then ordered Youlee Yim Yee removed from the November ballot. Ms. Roberts, who, according to the Associated Press, "has run for judge several times" and been rejected for appointment at least once that we know of, is expected to win the seat unless Mel Carnahan somehow gets into the race.
You can put away your protractor now; we're done.
So whaddya think we've got here? Is this the worst betrayal since Cain and Abel14 or a clever conspiracy in which Ms. Roberts and Ms. You outsmarted the State of Oregon and got Ms. Roberts the judgeship she'd always wanted?
I don't know. But I figure Sandra Oh for Ms. You and Christine Lahti for Ms. Roberts. Justice Armstrong, like all appellate court judges, should be played by Tom Selleck.
1 Even our religions are different in southern California.
2 Although you go from chunky style to creamy.
3 Only in San Francisco, you don't feel like you're receiving stolen property every time you drink it.
4 Along with Tom Cruise.
5 So to speak.
6 Everything truly crazy requires a California connection. It can't be genuine "private reserve" nutso if California isn't involved somehow.
7 Actually, there is no Mr. Roberts. Leslie Robeerts is married to Oregon Court of Appeals Justice Rex Armstrong, but denominating the parties in this case is already way too complicated without all of them insisting on individual names. One of them has a last name indistinguishable from a second person singular or plural pronoun, for crying out loud. You gotta cut me some slack here. Justice Armstrong and Ms. Roberts will just have to share a name until I become a better writer.
8 There, now you see how awkward that is? I'm sticking with "the Robertses" from now on.
9 Anytime one of the main protagonists has initials that are pronounced, "Why, why, why?" you know things are likely to go from bad to worse.
10 Although, unlike Jesus, she had spent some time in the plastic bubble He was not allowed to enter.
11 This is how liberal and laid back Oregon is: They elected this man despite his conviction as the Unibomber. Now that is some pretty heavy baggage for a gubernatorial candidate. Say what you will about Schwarzenegger . . .
12 In some respects, that is. Let's not be libelous, here. No system not devised by drunken carpenter ants is exactly like California's.
13 "Investigation" may overstate it a little. "Have you lived here for the last three years?" "No." "Okay, thank you," may not technically qualify as an investigation.
14 According to the Gospel of Clive, Abel, one of Jesus' 12 apothecaries, broke into the plastic bubble and returned with a boyfriend. His brother Cain was so jealous that he slew Abel and stole the boyfriend, Mark, for himself. Hence the term, "Mark of Cain." People raised in churches outside California might not be entirely conversant with this story.