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Bob Newland publishes the Buffalo Chip Gazette in Hermosa, in the Black Hills. He claims to practice safe bathing.

(Those who follow South Dakota politics will recognize the names of SD's real political "leaders." Their quotes are real, too. Um...Well, we might be kidding about that part...)

Political Leaders Respond to

Satire by Bob Newland

On April 1, 1998, Governor Janklow slipped in his bathtub, striking his head. Doctors prognosticated almost immediately that probably the governor will be in a coma for years, probably until death from other causes. They further noted that the notedly garrulous Janklow would probably end his state budget address--which he had begun in early December--any day now. "His syntax is starting to become worse than usual, so the speaking reflex is almost certainly winding down."

Lieutenant-Governor Carole Hillard called a special joint session of the South Dakota Legislature, the South Dakota Supreme Court and the entire South Dakota Executive Branch. Calling the comatose governor a "great leader," she asked the Legislature for a bill within ten days which would "forever end the fear of South Dakotans of slipping in their bathtubs."

Republican candidate for governor, SD Representative Dick Brown, calling the comatose governor a "great, great, leader," excoriated the Democrats in the Legislature for having blocked his "Prevention of Sudden Bathtub Coma Act of 1998," (which he had proposed in the recently-adjourned regular legislative session) which would have mandated sand-covered non-slip strips in all newly-installed bathtubs. He further promised, if elected governor this year, a 5% property tax cut to those who convert their current unsafe tubs to the new safe technology. "This," he consoled the state, "will assure that future generations of children can live safe from the fear of growing up on welfare in single-parent homes like Tiffany Janklow (the governor's 32-year-old daughter) will now have to do."

Brown further suggested removing "our great fallen leader" from consideration for the upcoming gubernatorial primary election, since campaigning would be a strain on him, and replacing him with "someone capable of carrying on Governor Janklow's 'firm, but compassionate,' leadership tradition, someone like me."

South Dakota Senate Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff, a Democrat candidate for governor, convening a special session of the South Dakota Democratic Committee, called the comatose governor a "great, superlatively great, leader." Noting that the Democrats had blocked the Bathtub Coma Act because the Republicans had only wanted to benefit the rich who could buy new bathtubs, he charged Representative Brown with plagiarism for "stealing the Democrats' idea of giving a tax break to those who voluntarily coma-proof their tubs."

South Dakota Speaker of the House, Republican Rex Hagg, calling the comatose governor a "great and honorable leader," asked for a "bipartisan revolution to forever end the threat of bathtub coma." He outlined a ten-point plan to "assure swift and sure assistance to those who voluntarily coma-proof their tubs, and swift and sure punishment to those who neglect to do so. No longer will South Dakotans have to suffer because some of their negligent neighbors fall in their tubs and become public burdens, as has our great, and now comatose, governor."

South Dakota U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Daschle, in a contentious race for re-election against challenger Republican State Senator Alan Aker, pointed to Daschle's own co-sponsorship of the Federal Bathtub Coma Act of 1998, and charged Aker with "radical right-wing negligent disregard for the safety of South Dakotans" for his opposition to the act. Daschle said, "This horrible tragedy which has taken from us such a 'fine and honorable, indeed, great' man should not be allowed to ever strike any family--not just in South Dakota, but anywhere in America--ever again. Only through moderate South Dakota values, like mine, can we achieve victory over the fear of bathtub coma."

Daschle then proposed a candlelight march--at $5000 per person--to the top of Mt. Rushmore, with half the proceeds going to pay for medical costs of victims of sudden tub coma, and the other half going to Daschle's re-election effort. "After all, it is my idea," he said in the face of derision by Aker.

Aker replied that Daschle, as usual, was "limp as an overcooked noodle" in the face of a threat, and "as opportunistic as a horny poodle" in the wake of a tragedy. He promised, if elected to the U.S. Senate, to introduce the "Janklow Act," which would require bathtub manufacturers to install "Slip Chips" in all new tubs. The "S-Chip" would send out a traceable radio signal to roving federal tub-patrol vans if the sand-covered anti-slip strips had been removed from the tubs. "How can we better remember our 'great, great, I can't tell you how great,' fallen governor than by passing the Janklow Act on the first day of the new Congress?" He then added, "Without truly conservative no-nonsense real South Dakota values, like mine, no South Dakotan can feel safe from governmental intrusion."

South Dakota Senator, Democrat Rebecca Dunn, Assistant Minority Leader, said, "There's no reason that rich South Dakota corporations can't pay a little more of their share to keep South Dakota safe from Bathtub Coma. Our great fallen governor is testament to their greediness."

Republican Harold Halverson, SD Senate President Pro-Tem, said "It's as simple as this. People will not voluntarily coma-proof their own tubs. They will fall and get hurt and the taxpayer and insurance premium-payer will foot the bill. Only one thing will get their attention; imprisonment for failing to comply. I propose a new branch of the South Dakota Department of Justice, under a Bathtub Czar, with sweeping powers to enter and search without knocking, and to take offenders directly to incarceration. This will not be an invasion of privacy or a violation of the Bill of Rights, as some of my weak-wristed opponents have suggested, but a 'great insurance against the great fear that some day, a future leader as great as our great fallen governor' will again be taken from us in such a great tragedy."

Republican SD Senator Mike Rounds, Majority Leader, said, "When a leader as great as our great comatose governor is taken from us so tragically, it's up to all of us to report anyone we know who threatens to cause a public burden by not coma-proofing their tubs."

Democrat Senate Minority Whip JoAnn Morford-Burg proposed a "South Dakota 'Slip Not And Report Everyone' (SNARE) program" in the schools, enlisting children--the younger the better--in reporting "anyone" whose bathtub isn't coma-proofed. She further suggested that no agency would be better prepared to immediately administer the program than the Department of Tourism. "After all it has a huge well-paid staff with little to do. I'm sure our 'great, oh, so great' fallen governor would have suggested just this, if he weren't quite so comatose."

SD Republicans Senator Drue Vitter and Representative Mike DeMerrseman issued a joint statement promising to "continue to fight for or against corporate hog farms, whichever position our great comatose governor wants us to take."

Every County Auditor, County Treasurer, County Commissioner, and Sheriff candidate in South Dakota issued statements calling for extended powers (and funds) to be granted their positions so that they could enforce whatever new anti-tub-coma laws were passed. Each pledged to act with "swift and sure force to stem the tide of terror" over sudden tub coma.

South Dakota Corrections Secretary Jeff Bloomberg and Attorney-General Mark Barnett issued a joint statement; "While hating to increase the tax burden on South Dakotans, we fully endorse the movement against bathtub coma terror in this great state, and with great reverence for our great fallen governor, we ask the next legislature to add four per cent to the current South Dakota sales tax, to be dedicated to the building of four new prisons, the hiring of 600 new prison guards, and the formation of a special bathtub task force. We can't sit idly while this terror lurks in even one South Dakotan's home."

Every Republican and Democrat legislative candidate promised to submit bills to fill "the needs of local and state government in fighting tub coma terror."

South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Gene Abdallah offered the use of Highway Patrol Armored Personnel Carriers. "The Highway Patrol is anxious to give any assistance possible to alleviate the palpable fear in this state, the fear caused by the threat of sudden tub coma. How can people be safe from drivers on the highways and byways who neglect personal safety and responsibility in their own homes?"

A few Libertarian candidates in South Dakota and nationwide denounced the "Bathtub Safety Act Movement" as "hysteria." News outlets suggested the Libertarians were once again demonstrating their "fringe views," and lamented the absence of "serious" alternative candidates.

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07 December, 1997