Better than having the lovely Nicole dress up like Margaret Dumont, we suppose.


WILLING AND ABEL

As P&J go to press, we are informed that a friend and colleague, Abel Collins, the program manager for the Rhode Island branch of the Sierra Club, will launch an independent challenge to Congressman Jim Langevin.

P&J greatly respect Abel for his work with the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Transportation Choices, and the RIPTA Riders at the State House. And it is always nice to see someone a bit younger than ourselves take the political plunge. Rhode Island's entire system of governance reeks like a fetid swamp and needs all the help it can get.

Abel promises an "empowering grassroots campaign to focus on finance industry accountability and environmental justice." Sounds like an admirable agenda to P&J.

No one doubts Langevin's strength, heart, and goodwill. But these days, we need someone who will do more than just go along to get along. We have no doubt that if Abel runs his campaign as well as he has taken care of affairs at the Sierra Club and on transit issues, he will be a formidable opponent for the incumbent. And that would yield one of the rarest things of all in Little Rhody politics: an intelligent campaign pitting good, honest, and smart candidates.


RHODY HAS A WINNER

Much excitement Monday morning at Spoonem's, the neighborhood breakfast institution in Edgewood in Cranston, with the regulars discussing the fact that a neighborhood girl had been crowned Miss USA the night before. Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old graduate of St. Mary Academy Bay View and currently a student at Boston University, became the first Miss Rhode Island to win the Miss America or Miss USA pageant (although a young lady who grew up in the Biggest Little, Shanna Moakler, was Miss USA in 1995; she was representing New York, not Rhode Island).

This is a big deal for Vo Dilun because it is so unexpected. Many other states, particularly those in the South and Midwest, take the pageants far more seriously than we do here. But despite the heavy odds against her, Olivia wowed the audience and the judges on a number of levels. Much was made in the media of her bright answer to a question posed by "celebrity judge" Rob Kardashian: "Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?"

At Casa Diablo, your superior correspondents were ready with a brilliant answer: "If the natural born woman in question was one of your sisters, I would insist that the transgender candidate be given the crown."

Olivia, however, opined: "I do think that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women. But today, where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it's a free country."

A talented cellist and singer, Culpo is just the sort of class act to make our state proud. She now gets to compete in the Miss Universe pageant — though she'll have to spend more time with pageant half-owner Donald Trump than any human should have to.

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