Boy State

I am thinking of pip-squeaks the other day, when who should come to mind but congressional candidate Fred Duval.

Duval is running against a field of 13, including my dog in this hunt, Steve Udall.

If you are a Democrat in Phoenix, you have been solicited for money for Duval's campaign in Congressional District 1. Some candidates might use more of their own money, but no one has raised more than the well-connected Duval. In fact, Tipper Gore toured Arizona with Duval and then hosted an upscale benefit for him at the Arizona Biltmore resort. Now, right here, her presence in our state ought to tell you something.

I will go to my grave nursing a grudge against Tipper, the Junior League do-gooder, and her self-absorbed jihad against rock 'n' roll, a crusade she took to Congress because she was offended — on behalf of the children, of course — by some lyrics of assorted head-bangers. Tipper is one of those frightening nanny-mommies who believes that the only place safe enough to suckle an infant is seat-belted inside a Volvo station wagon.

If Tipper Gore is running point for Fred Duval, I want to know more.

Now, I remember Fred from back in the day, when he was a scampering aide to then-governor Bruce Babbitt. Briefcase-toters like Fred had less throw weight than a hamster fart, and I suspected I was missing something in his professional résumé that qualified him for Congress, particularly in this new district whose heart is Apache County, the third-poorest — not just in Arizona — in all of America.

The winner of this election needs shoulders like Mike Ditka's; you don't grow that big by hauling around Bruce Babbitt's files.

So who is this hyperfinanced candidate?

Fred was the student body president in high school.

And I say, "Bully!"

Also in high school, Fred went to Boys State.

Well, lah-dee-dah.

This research does not qualify me to be a forensic accountant for the IRS. Fred lists these accomplishments on his official campaign Web site.

Let's put aside for a second the fact that no one ever went to Boys State who wasn't a hoser on the make.

Thirty years later, you are still so needy that, as a congressional candidate, you are compelled to remind people that you were student body president and attended Boys State?

Hey, Fred, what about your merit badge for impersonating Eddie Haskell?

Knowing all this, I was not shocked to hear from a friend about a phone call she received from Duval's people. The pollster interviewed my friend and inquired: Would her opinion of a congressional candidate be negative if she learned he'd failed the Bar exam three times (the maximum the bar allows)?

WHOOP, WHOOP, WHOOP!! Pip-squeak alert.

Good God, I have failed all manner of tests, from Latin to field sobriety.

Congressman Ed Pastor failed the Bar three times and does just fine as a public official.

Flunking the Bar three times doesn't make Fred a flunky. Polling to find out if I care makes Fred a flunky.

Polling to decide if you're going to run for Congress based upon how I feel about your failing the Bar three times, or trying to figure out how to position yourself if it turns out that I do care about your failing the Bar three times . . . well, you can see that Fred has "leader" stamped all over him.

Leadership is an issue in this district. Almost all of the government lands that we hold dear in Arizona — the national monuments, the forests, mountains, relics, burial grounds — are concentrated in District 1. Indian reservations, with their unique issues, sit cheek-by-jowl with areas of unmitigated poverty and unemployment. Ranching, timber management and serious environmental issues divide the populace.

The latest crisis in the district is the crippling Rodeo-Chediski firestorm, which consumed more than 600,000 acres as well as the homes of residents in the path of the fire. This was a national news event that mingled television footage, devastated lives and federal forest management policies.

Duval broadcast television spots urging all of us to "open our hearts and homes" to the victims of the Rodeo-Chediski fire. He advised avoiding the blame game and asked that, in this time of tragedy, we all pull together.

These sentiments are so much Tipper Gore treacle.

Steve Udall is the only candidate in District 1 who articulated a federal forest policy prior to the fire. He'd studied the problem for years.

More to the point, Steve Udall and his family have a long history of confronting the problems of the territory, dating all the way back to when Arizona was a territory. I am not speaking only of the incredible career of his uncle, Congressman Mo Udall, who cast the shadow of a giant across this state and this country.