Cannibal council

Behaving badly
By AL DIAMON  |  September 22, 2010

Getting a stern lecture on political decorum from the likes of me would be similar to being scolded by Hannibal Lecter for indulging in cannibalism. Both reprimands would carry a strong odor of hypocrisy.

Although, that scent might not be as obnoxious if the lessons were served with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

The fact is that, as with the fictional Lecter's predilection for dining on human flesh, I enjoy candidates and elected officials who misbehave in public. Without them, I'd have to do actual investigative work, such as trying to stay awake during a Libby Mitchell press conference or figuring out who's spent more time in Maine in recent years — Eliot Cutler or Hurricane Earl.

By that (admittedly low) standard, last week was about as much fun as I could possibly have without the use of illegal chemical stimulants.

It began modestly enough. The Kennebec Journal reported that Democratic legislative candidate Michael "Mick" Devin of Newcastle had put out a press release announcing that he'd be campaigning on a unicycle. "The unicycle is a great ice breaker," Devin is quoted as saying. "People open up quickly and want to discuss issues they feel are important."

Such as where to get good deals on clown shoes, flowers that squirt water, and red rubber noses.

Devin is running (unicycling?) against Republican state Representative Jonathan McKane in House District 51. I haven't done a lick of research on that race, but, for some reason, I'm sensing an easy McKane victory. Even if he's unable to campaign because he's been devoured by cannibals.

The tendency toward unnecessarily making a fool of oneself gained momentum when several news outlets ran stories about Portland City Councilor Dan (The Nuclear Bomb) Skolnik's latest dispute with his fellow council members. Skolnik released a bunch of e-mails that he said showed his colleagues were engaged in a massive conspiracy to ignore him. Also, some of them thought he was crazy. And — imagine this — they've accused him of having anger-management issues, just because he called one of them a "spectacular dunce."

Skolnik had previously announced he would not seek re-election when his term as a district councilor expires later this year. But now, he claims he's running for an at-large seat as a write-in candidate. He might even win if he convinces the city clerk to add all votes for "Daffy Duck" to his tally.

Skolnik is a liberal Democrat, and gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage is a conservative Republican, but they both agree on one thing: When in doubt, go with the wackiest campaign tactics you can think of. In LePage's case, this involves immersing himself in the school of political discourse called irrational blundering tirades.

On September 13, LePage scheduled a series of events to announce his plan to reform state government by allowing businesses to do whatever the hell they want (including cloning Dan Skolnik) for a single $5 fee. At his first stop in Bangor, he got a question he should have anticipated and had a ready answer for:

Had his wife, Ann, invited Hannibal Lecter to her Florida home for dinner?

Oops, sorry. He was actually asked about Ann's receiving property-tax rebates in both Florida and Maine at the same time, even though those states limit such rebates to residents.

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