... IRREVERENCE, INSTITUTIONALIZED ...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ryberg Signs Frighten Children, Inspire Bow Tie Wearers


FITS has learned that candidate for State Treasurer Greg Ryberg (left, at right) has received dozens of calls from irate mothers following his campaign's placement of hundreds of 4X8 road signs on highways across the state of South Carolina this past week.

The signs, which feature a three-foot high photo reproduction of the Aiken Senator's gigantic "Ry-borg-like" head, have evidently frightened a number of infants and young children.

"We were drivin' down the road and all of a sudden, little Nikki starts screamin' her fool head off sayin' 'Mommy, mommy! That man scares me!'" recalled Tammi Bittner, a single mother of two from Elgin, S.C. "I looked up and I swear to God I 'bout ran off the road and caused me a wreck. Goodness gracious! That's one scary-lookin' man."

Ryberg, who has previously experimented with Yosemite Sam as well as Hercule Poirot-style moustaches, recently shaved a fairly normal moustache to begin stumping the state in his second bid for the Treasurer's Office (the Senate Transportation Chief was soundly thumped in 2002 by current Treasurer Grandpa Simpson).

"He's selling out to get elected," said Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper, who sports a totalitarian, Adolf Hitler-style moustache. "Hopefully this will convince him he's just as scary-looking without the moustache as he was with it."

While State Public Safety officials acknowledged that the Ryberg signs have created 159 accidents in the week since they were unveiled (most of them the result of shrieking babies), Ryberg spokesman Terry Sullivan countered by saying the signs were "regal and handsome" and that the image of his candidate "looked dignified and, to be honest, more than a little bit hot."

"We've also noticed that men who like to wear bow ties are all of a sudden flocking to our campaign," Sullivan added. "And besides, they've got more money than babies, who are really only good for website pictures."

Rick Quinn, Ryberg's opponent for the GOP Treasurer's nomination, said any money his opponent spent putting his face in public circulation was a good thing.

"Our initial plan for the signs was to buy a lot of cotton balls and make big Yosemite Sam moustaches to tape onto each one of them," Quinn admitted. "But based on the reaction they're getting, I think we'll probably leave them alone."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dissecting the Anti-McCain Derby


Attention all 2008 GOP Presidential hopefuls: If you're name isn't John McCain, there's a political army ready to take you under its wings here in South Carolina and offer you a first-class ticket to the White House.

Veteran GOP consultants Warren Tompkins, Heath Thompson, Terry Sullivan and Walter Whetsell have joined forces with one objective - recruiting a viable, recognizable (and let's not forget malleable) candidate to defeat McCain here in the Palmetto State in the 2008 Presidential Primary.

And if you thought 2000 was a bloodbath, our guess is you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

The Warren-ites are actively recruiting the likes of U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA) in the hopes of landing a big-name socially-conservative challenger to go up against the Arizona Senator, whom they bloodily repulsed on this same ground in 2000.

Of course, six years later with this future battle looming, the scars from the former fight have yet to heal. It seems every Republican in the state is still identified by whether or not they were "Bushies" or "McCain-ites." If anything, the visceral hatred these factions of the GOP maintain for each other has only intensified in the intervening years.

THE SANFORD FACTOR

One question will be the role of Gov. Mark Sanford in the contest, assuming of course he does as expected and wins a second term in the Governor's Mansion. Sanford was the victim of the same cookie-cutter negative barrage that sent McCain reeling in 2000, delivered this time through the personage of former Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler.

In Greenville during the 2002 campaign, one Tompkins operative was asked by a reporter how Peeler (the presumed front-runner prior to a second-place finish against Sanford in the primary) would be able to slow Sanford's runoff momentum in just two weeks.

His response?

"We gutted McCain in three days."

They did gut McCain, but Sanford stuck to his message during the 2002 runoff, didn't take the negative bait and rolled over Peeler by a 60-40 margin to secure the GOP nomination.

Sanford, an enthusiastic McCain supporter in 2000, may be sending mixed signals as ground begins to be staked out for the 2008 contest. Presumably still in the McCain camp, Sanford has nonetheless hired former George Allen operative Jason Miller as his campaign director. Notoriously frugal, Sanford isn't paying Miller for his services. Reportedly, Miller is working for the Republican Senatorial Committee and using the position with Sanford to build a network in South Carolina in the event Allen runs here in 2008.

Where Sanford ends up pitching his tent for this fight could be a huge determining factor in whether or not it's McCain or somebody else who ends up winning the nomination.

FALL OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT

Six years has done a lot to temper the fire (and the political clout) of the old school social conservative movement in South Carolina. Sure, abortion is always going to be an issue, but it will never be as powerful an issue as in was in 2000 or years past.

Gone are the days when the Christian Coalition could almost de facto dictate the ballot decisions of the majority of GOP voters in South Carolina, a trend evidenced clearly by their deterioration and utter lack of effectiveness in both the 2002 and 2004 election cycles.

These rabid "Family Values" foot soldiers form the backbone of the grassroots army Tompkins and his cronies appeal to, but their numbers are steadily diminishing. Recent polls show fiscal issues - not social issues - are what Palmetto State voters are becoming increasingly swayed by, which is a dynamic Team Tompkins has yet to demonstrate that it either understands or can effectively manage.

Exhibit number one is U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, one of the most fiscally-conservative elected officials South Carolina has ever seen. When DeMint announced he was seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Fritz Hollings, he seemed to be the perfect candidate for Tompkins & Co. to prove their competence at managing a dollars-and-cents-themed campaign.

It didn't quite turn out that way. DeMint won, but his 2004 campaign was an unqualified disaster. Blistered by attacks from Democrat Inez Tenenbaum on a radical-sounding sales tax plan that had zero chance of passage at the national level, DeMint was bailed out in the end by his buddies Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford - but not without his advisors doing their best to wreck even that effort.

The DeMint team offered an original version of the Sanford/Graham "bailout ad" that had both former McCain-backing politicians ripping Tenenbaum a new one, rapid-firing mud in typical Tompkins-Thompson-Sullivan fashion.

Luckily for DeMint, Sanford and Graham declined to dip into the gutter and convinced him to take the high road and tout his own record of fiscal conservatism instead of lashing back at the diminuitive lady in the red dress.

That move - along with DeMint unintentionally shifting the debate away from his tax plan with a controversial comment about unwed mothers made during a live television debate - managed to secure his win. In short, it was one of the few South Carolina statewide campaigns that managed to win in spite of itself, but if you're a Presidential wanna-be looking to win the Palmetto State, you'd be wise to take heed.

Chances are you'll have stiffer opposition than a two-term Superintendent of the nation's worst-performing public school system to deal with.

THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY

McCain's South Carolina consultant, Richard Quinn, is the state's only other formidable, top-tier political strategist. He's beaten Tompkins more than anyone else has, and achieved a major coup in 2002 by getting Lindsey Graham into the U.S. Senate without the bloodshed of a divisive Republican Primary.

Graham, who defeated a credible, well-disciplined campaign run by former Judge Alex Sanders, has seen his popularity with voters rise steadily since taking office.

Knowing that the Quinn-Tompkins factions are thus committed to another full-scale Presidential battle like the one that raged across the state six years ago, the 2008 race could be impacted by the disposition of a number of wild cards. For example, will Gov. Sanford's 2002 ad-man Jon Lerner get involved with a campaign? Where will the always fiesty and unpredictable Rod Shealy end up? What about Bob McAlister and what's left of his share of the Carroll Campbell network? Who will the Merrills down in Charleston support? And what about former Sanford message doctors Chris Drummond and Will Folks, both of whom are now in the private sector and likely looking to make their mark on Presidential politics?

With political insiders switching allegiances on an almost daily basis in the Palmetto State, rest assured that the "enemy of my enemy" today may not be the "enemy of my enemy" tomorrow. How the dust settles after the 2006 contests, however, could be a good litmus test as to where these and other politicos will line up for the big fight in 2008.

Hang onto your hats - South Carolina is slowly but steadily moving toward another political bloodbath in 2008 that could further rupture the state's already splintered GOP, and once again the stakes are no less than the highest office in the land.

The Edu-Nazis?


Sic Willie has an especially controversial column on the Laurin Line today that is likely to raise more than a couple of eyebrows. Called "The New Ministry of Propoganda," our bad boy makes the case that South Carolina schools are basically using Nazi methods in framing the school choice debate.

We at FITS think that's probably a little overboard, but then again it is Sic Willie.

This isn't the first time that controversial references have been directed at educrats in South Carolina. The advocacy group "South Carolinians for Responsible Government" caused a stir awhile back after issuing a press release referring to State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum as "Frau Tenenbaum." Mrs. Tenenbaum's Jewish husband, Samuel, was offended by the release.

Our bet is that Bill Robinson at The State or Diette Courrege at the Post and Courier is probably on the phone right now not only with Sam, but probably with the Dorchester School Board as well (whom Sic Willie referred to as the "Dorch-Reich" in his column).

To read this controversial column in its entirety, go to www.laurinmanning.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kid in Burma Hatin' on SC


Her name is Chay-Ki (pictured left), and she is a friendly, outgoing, adorable six-year old Burmese girl. But Chay-Ki's teachers were shocked yesterday to find the message "South Carolina Sux" scrawled on the first-grader's art notebook.

"Chay-Ki didn't like hearing the governor of South Carolina talk about his school children competing with the Burmese in his big State of the State speech," said Nid, Chay-Ki's principal. "Everybody knows American schools stink and that South Carolina's schools are the stinkiest in all of America."

Although incredibly cute and sweet, Chay-Ki nonetheless had a stern message for South Carolinians after her artwork generated an international firestorm.

"South Carolina continually refuses to embrace market principles that have proven effective at expanding educational opportunity and enhancing academic achievement everywhere else they have been implemented," the six-year old told a throng of reporters while playing after school with her Burmese Barbies. "Unless the competitive forces that drive success in the business world are brought to bear on the state's monopolistic public school system, South Carolinians should expect to continue losing out on new high-paying, high-tech jobs as my people further deplete their manufacturing sector of existing jobs."

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer agreed with Chay-Ki, but said the governor would not apologize for referencing her and her classmates in his State of the State speech last week.

"Chay-Ki is exactly what the governor is talking about in terms of how competitive the world has become," Sawyer said. "We should all heed her warning."

"Lil" Bucky Skinner, a two-hundred pound first-grader in Allendale County, was asked to respond to Chay-Ki's analysis of the impact of competition on monopolistic educational marketplaces such as South Carolina's, but his parents, "Big" Bucky and Chastity Skinner, refused to make the boy available for comment outside the family's mobile home in Ulmer, S.C.

"Hell, we can't even read," Chastity Skinner told FITS. "How in tarnation d'jou 'speck Lil' Bucky to figger out all dat jibbrish?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Coble Launches New Task Force


FITS has learned that City of Columbia Mayor Bob Coble has formed a new task force to root out what he calls the single gravest threat to public safety in the Midlands.

No, it's not homocide, crack cocaine, armed robbery or Annette Young and Andre Bauer getting behind the wheel of a car - Coble (pictured left) says it's the Columbia Police Department's inability to locate a permanent home address for Will Folks. Accordingly, Coble has designated City Manager and former Chief of Police Charles Austin to head up COLAPAW - or the Committee On Locating A Permanent Address for Will.

"Sure, as it stands right now there are no outstanding warrants for Mr. Folks' arrest," Coble said. "But when you are dealing with this kind of diabolical, devious and desperate mind, that can change in a heartbeat. I believe strongly that this is the single most pressing public safety issue Columbia has faced since William Tecumsah Sherman, and that's why COLAPAW is going to make sure our city is ready the next time Mr. Folks steps out of line."

Numerous locations have been bandied about as possible current home addresses for Folks, but most political observers agree that the Back Porch restaurant or The Clubhouse (both on Gervais Street) are the most likely options. COLAPAW announced it is offering a $1 million reward for any individual who can provide the committee with a permanent address.

"Our committee is going to focus like a laser on pinpointing Mr. Folks' exact location," Austin said in accepting the reins of COLAPAW. "Then we will use any means necessary to make sure that we are on top of him at all times."

No sooner had Coble announced COLAPAW's formation than Queer as Folks blogger Paul Adams came forward to claim the reward. Adams admitted than a combination of lithium withdrawal, unemployment and an unnatural obsession with Folks had caused him to start stalking the former Sanford spokesman several weeks ago.

"I know where Will is at all times," Adams said. "In fact, at this very moment he is typing this blog. I can even see the back of his head right now with my binoculars. Geez, it looks like he's losing some hair back there."

For his part, Folks said the committee's formation was expected.

"What can I say," Folks said. "A black man can't expect justice in a white man's world."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AG's Office "Cranks" It Up


FITS couldn't help but notice that one of our favorite friends from the office of Attorney General Henry McMaster (right) was wound up a little tighter than usual when we ran into him the other night.

Usually spouting Steel Magnolia quotes at 45 RPM, somebody had obviously set his motor at 90 on this particular evening.

It seemed nothing - brown liquor, the soothing sounds of Burt Baccarat, even a delectible filet mignon - could slow him down.

It may have taken us awhile, but FITS finally put 2+2 together:

http://greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060124/NEWS01/601240339/1004/NEWS01

Try this DYNO-MITE Idea


At first FITS thought it was a bad joke, or yet another sign that our society has completely lost its mind.

But the more we think about it, whoever came up with this idea is onto something.

In case you haven't driven down Andreanapolis Street (sorry, we meant Assembly Street) lately, the old Radisson/ Carolina Plaza hotel at the Pendleton Street intersection has seen better days.

Back in its hey-day, the Plaza was "happenin' digs." It even served as a temporary home for the South Carolina General Assembly while the State House was undergoing extensive interior renovations in the late 1990's. But with the University of South Carolina deciding to use your tax dollars to unfairly compete with Columbia's hospitality industry at another location these days, it's time for the Plaza to (literally) bite the dust.

But before it takes a concrete nose dive, the Carolina Plaza is giving you a chance to send some of your frustration down with it.

FITS kids you not - for the meagre sum of $20, you can have the last laugh on that ex-boyfriend or girlfriend by sending them (well, a picture of them at least) out in a blaze of glory.

Sponsored by USC's Arnold School of Public Health - again FITS kids you not - the "Blow It Up" promotion will accept anything made of paper for inclusion in the Plaza's February 5 implosion. So grab that nasty break-up letter, print that e-mail where he called you fat, or, if you're John Graham Altman, hurry up and request that glossy 8X10 photo of WIS reporter Kara Gormley.

Turns out the most original submission will receive a pair of tickets to the "Blow it Up Breakfast" at the Capital City Club, where he or she will have a birds-eye view of the demolition.

"The purpose (of the campaign) is to raise awareness of all the exciting things that are happening on the USC campus, especially for the Arnold School of Public Health and the Innovista,” says Lucy Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the school.

Right.

We think the purpose is to watch in diabolical satisfaction as bad memories, enemies or enmities go up in smoke.

Again, we thought it was a joke at first, but you can learn all about this wacky new promotion by logging onto http://www.sc.edu/carolinatoday/item.php?tid=83.

Although many are waiting for the Feb. 2 deadline to send in their documents, State House-related submissions have been brisk. Bobby Harrell, Andrew Sorenson, Jim Barker and Dan Cooper have each submitted for obliteration their copies of Gov. Mark Sanford's Executive Budget, and Sen. Larry Martin has sent in an autographed photo of Phil Leventis and a copy of the Senate Rules. Sen. Hugh Leatherman has submitted the Fiscal Discipline Act of 2004 (along with a photo of the governor), and Sen. Mike Fair has submitted a photo of Charles Darwin along with any South Carolina textbook that teaches evolution.

Treasurer Grady Patterson initially submitted his campaign finance disclosure report before being told that he was not at the State Ethics Commission (Patterson ultimately submitted his AARP card, a nasty-gram from Standard & Poor's ratings service and, thankfully, his Driver's License).

"The Treasurer is still relevant and hip," spokesman/State Treasurer Trav "Mini-Me" Robertson said. "And when it comes to getting our state's Triple-A credit rating back, watch out - he has an appetite for destruction."

On that subject, new State Ports Authority Chairman Bill Stern submitted for reduction the SPA's promise to expand port capacity in Charleston and Jasper County (since they don't have the money and won't let private companies do it), and no fewer than a dozen female State House lobbyists submitted various mementoes from past flings with our favorite bad boy, Sic Willie.

New Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer declined to identify any specific items the administration had on its hit list, but said the governor would unveil a "Checklist for Implosion" prior to the Feb. 2 deadline.

"It'll probably be the answer to whatever FOIA request Jim Davenport is sending us this week," Sawyer said.

Friday, January 20, 2006

SC Lands New Feature Film


Independent filmaker extraordinaire Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are) announced today that he will remake his cult classic, Being John Malkovich, with a South Carolina twist.

Lured to the Palmetto State by the new film incentives law signed by Gov. Mark Sanford last year, Jonze (of R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Weezer and Pavement music video fame) said filming would begin this week in Columbia on the full-length, big budget remake tenatively entitled Being Jakie Knotts.

Jonze 1999 hit, which starred Malkovich (pictured above), John Cusack and Cameron Diaz, chronicles a puppeteer who accidentally discovers a secret portal into the famous actor's head. Entrants to the portal are momentarily transported inside Malkovich's brain, where they can see, feel, taste, smell and hear everything he does for a period of fifteen minutes - at which point they are unceremoniously jettisoned from the actor's head onto a rain-soaked off-ramp on the New Jersey turnpike.

In the remake, Aiken Senator Greg Ryberg (played by a slimmed-down Wilfred Brimley) discovers the portal into Knotts' head late one night after breaking into the State Department of Transportation in downtown Columbia. Spying a loose piece of paper beneath the desk of Director Betty Mabry that he believes could be another story for Greenville News Reporter Tim Smith (played by Nicholas Cage), Ryberg crawls under the desk to retrieve it when he is suddenly sucked into Knotts' brain (which, incidentally, offers plenty of room for maneuverability).

After fifteen minutes watching Knotts receive multiple lap dances from the girls at Kermit LaForce's strip club, Ryberg is spit out of the Senator's brain and onto the Peak Exit off of Interstate 26.

Eager to curry favor with Gov. Mark Sanford (played by Dustin Hoffman), Ryberg immediately begins to exploit the portal for his own political gain - or at least after he makes twenty or so strip club visits with his fellow Senators. Cleverly disguising his campaign manager Terry Sullivan (played by Queen Latifah) as a DOT janitor, a plot is hatched to enter Knotts' brain during a Phil Leventis filibuster and force him to vote for cloture.

Everything goes according to plan until Sullivan enters the portal and finds Tim Smith there waiting for him inside Knotts' brain. As the two struggle mightily inside his head, Knotts is lured off the Senate floor by the smell of donuts in the anteroom, giving Ryberg his chance to make the motion. The motion passes and Leventis (played by Woody Allen) is forced to sit down, but by now an action-packed car chase is underway on I-26 as Sullivan tries to stop Smith from making it back downtown to publish his story.

Jonze said Being Jakie Knotts will also feature cameo appearances by Kirtsie Alley (as Laura Hudson), Freddy Prinze, Jr. (as Andre Bauer), John Goodman (as Rod Shealy), Samuel L. Jackson (as Sen. Darrell Jackson), and "Benji," (who plays the role of Knotts' dog "Boom Boom").

The film is projected to bring $223 million in direct revenue to the state and create over 250 temporary high-paying jobs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Notorious BIG to Aid Cooper on Ways & Means Committee


FITS has learned that deceased rapper Notorious B.I.G. has been raised "all Lazarus-style" and dispatched to Columbia, S.C. to assist freshman Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper in preparing the 2006-07 budget, his first since rising to the post vacated by new Speaker Pork Barrel.

"Where tha true playuhs at?" B.I.G. told reporters at a joint press conference held with Cooper on the State House grounds Wednesday. "I be flossin', jig on the covah of Fortune, 5-double-Oh."

Cooper said the addition of B.I.G. - who incidentally bears a striking resemblance to Charleston-based lobbyist Jerome Heyward - would bolster his ability to keep House members in line during the often contentious budget-writing process.

"Biggie has assured me that if there are any issues that should arise during the writing of the budget, it's not a problem whatsoever for him to get the gat," Cooper said. "He has also assured me that in the event disputes arise with the Governor's Office, he is sufficiently prepared to drop a little machine gun funk on that ass."

"Ain't no thang to smack dat beeyatch," B.I.G. reiterated.

Sanford Spokesman Joel Sawyer, known for his rap music proclivity and for taking a full day off from work once to mourn the death of the Wu Tang Clan's "Old Dirty Bizzah," was quick to respond to Cooper's new hire. Sawyer said the governor would not be caught off guard by Biggie's arrival in South Carolina, and in fact had begun the process of raising another dead rapper from his grave to meet the threat.

"We're bringing Tu Pac back to life to handle our budget negotiations in the House," Sawyer said. "The governor ain't tryin' ta play dat, but B.I.G. had better not step."

Both Cooper and Sanford said they would post their budgets on www.gizoogle.com, allowing taxplayuh's everywhere to decide for themselves which spending items they would be "down wit yo."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Play the "State of the State Drinking Game"


We've all played "A-hole," "Circle of Death" and the infamous "Roxanne" drinking games before, haven't we? Hell, unless our name is Rod Shealy, we've all been to college, right?

At any rate, seeking to capitalize on its dueling audiences of a) drunk, married Legislators and b) twenty-one year old college girls attempting to pry said drunk, married Legislators' hands from their backsides, "The Back Porch" restaurant is proudly sponsoring the inaugural "State of the State Drinking Game" tomorrow night.

Conveniently and appropriately, the contest will be hosted at The Back Porch, right across the street from the Legislative conclave that is the Clarion Town House.

Here's how it works: Print up the following rules, make sure your butt is in a chair that has a hookup to South Carolina Educational Television (if you need any help with that, just call former Sanford Communications Director Chris Drummond) and last but not least - have beaucoup alcohol on hand.

RULE #1 - Drink a full fifth of your favorite liquor before the speech starts ... this is Mark Sanford, remember.

RULE #2 - If your name happens to be Annette Young, triple whatever amounts are listed below.

RULE #3 - Anytime the governor says "I would just say ...," or "trust fund," take only a sip. Otherwise, you'll be hammered within five minutes.

RULE #4 - Drink ONCE whenever the governor says "Jobs."

RULE #5 - Drink ONCE whenever the governor says "Kid" or "Kids."

RULE #6 - Drink ONCE whenever the governor refers to "Soil Conditions."

RULE #7 - Drink TWICE whenever the governor says "At the end of the day" or "From day one."

RULE #8 - Drink TWICE whenever the governor uses the word "County."

RULE #9 - Drink TWICE whenever the governor references a legislator by his or her first name.

RULE #10 - Drink THREE TIMES whenever you hear the governor say "Freidman," "Porter," "Harvard" or "Economist."

RULE #11 - Drink THREE TIMES whenever you hear the governor reference "The World is Flat" or "The Lexus and the Olive Tree."

RULE #12 - Whoever is the first to yell "Lovelace" once the governor has used the word "Tax" or 'Taxes" five times gets to make everyone else in the bar drink THREE times.

RULE #13 - Whoever is the first to correctly predict within one minute the governor's first impromptu "Let me say that again" or "Let me say that in English" remark gets to make everyone else in the bar drink FIVE times.

RULE #14 - Drink FOUR TIMES whenever the governor says "Jenny."

RULE #15 - Drink FOUR TIMES whenever the governor says "underlying."

RULE #16 - Drink FOUR TIMES whenever the governor says "ultimately."

RULE #17 - Drink FOUR TIMES whenever the governor recognizes a Cabinet member by name.

RULE #18 - Turn to the person to your right and make them drink TWICE whenever the governor says "Maybank."

RULE #19 - Turn to the person to your left and make them drink TWICE whenever the governor says "debt" or "deficit."

RULE #20 - BE SURE TO DRINK ANOTHER FIFTH OF YOUR FAVORITE WHEN IT'S ALL DONE!!! Chances are you'll need it ...

Oh, and good luck driving home!!! Happy viewing!!!

Gervais, We Hardly Knew Ya


FITS was genuinely pleased today to receive the following three knock-knock jokes, which were truly a welcome respite from the 1,001 "Will Folks Knock-Knock Jokes" we've been forwarded these past couple of months.

Seriously, we're all about bashing our favorite bad boy, but how many times can the soon-to-be-less-than-anonymous Gervais S. Bridges continue to beat the same dead horse and expect similar non-diminishing returns on hilarity?

Perhaps the answer to that question lies in the identity of Mr. S. Bridges, or more accurately, in his genetic proximity to one Rod Shealy, Sr.

Not that it was really that much of a surprise.

All you've got to do is look at the opinion editorials one Mr. Ross Shealy has written over the past few months, including one late last summer on Sanford's vote against renewing funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the answer is literally staring you in the face ... or in Mr. Shealy's case, the grundle.

Classic strategy. Why bring sic Willie into the mainstream when you can cut the guvna's ass on the issue without mentioning his favorite bad boy's name - and then after you've stroked Brad Warthen's marsupial pouch, you can turn around and vent your spleen on a (used to be) anonymous blog?

Anyway, without further adieu, here are the three knock-knock jokes we received today:

JOKE #1

Knock-knock.
Q: Who's there?
A: The Saucy Gervais S. Bridges.
Q: I thought your name was Ross Shealy?

JOKE #2

Knock-knock.
Q: Who's there?
A: One of those Will Folks knock-knock jokes.
Q: How funny are those now, Ross?

JOKE #3

Knock-knock.
Q: Who's there?
A: A cush USC Naval ROTC job.
Q: Don't you mean a former cush USC Naval ROTC job?

It'll be interesting to see if Mr. Shealy - whose identity was nobly protected by the likes of Mr. Aaron Gould Sheinin and Miss Laurin Manning - used his state computer (or state time) to post his various missives.

Whether he did or not, FITS is happy to welcome him to the "You've Been Outed Club."

New SCGOP Consulting Firm Announced


FITS has learned that a new political consulting firm has been launched in the Palmetto State, one that incorporates not just some of - but in fact all of - the state Republican Party's political heavyweights.

The firm, tenatively called Tompkins, Quinn, Shealy, McAlister, Thompson, Merrill, Sullivan, Felkel, Whetsell, Maleryck, Matney, Adams, Denny, Ayres, Walker, Cahaly, Puhlaski, Donohue & Associates, said its primary focus will be on sticking it as far up Will Folks' backside as is humanly possible.

"Will Folks is an asshole," said Terry Sullivan, one of the founding members of the new firm.

"He's a damn asshole if you ask me," said veteran GOP consultant Rod Shealy.

"Total asshole," added longtime 'King of the SC Politicos' Warren Tompkins.

"Never met a bigger asshole in my life," said Bob McAlister, former communciations director to Gov. Carroll Campbell.

"I don't know him personally but he sure seems like an asshole," said the group's polling expert, Whit Ayres.

Our boy sic Willie could not be reached for comment on the formation of the new firm. Messages left at his office and on his firm's website, www.viewpolitik.com, were not returned, and like the Columbia Police Department, FITS had no recent home address for Folks.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's All About the Jeffersons


A little something was lost in last week's hoopla surrounding Gov. Mark Sanford's ever-escalating fundraising prowess, Robert Barber's impressive Light Gov showing and Greg Ryberg's shakedown of all his rich oil and gas buddies for campaign contributions.

That something? It's called "online disclosure."

For the first time in South Carolina history, John and Jane Sandlapper can now log onto their computers and figure out exactly who is paying to influence their votes ...

While most of the major media focused on the total dollar amounts raised by the various statewide campaigns, FITS took it upon ourselves to use this new technology for a look "behind the numbers" at all of the candidates. After a painstakingly-detailed analysis, here is a sampling of some of this recent fundraising quarter's most surprising revelations:

Rep. John Graham Altman - Received $250 from the SC Victims' Assistance Network with a note of profound thanks and a request for him to generate yet another national controversy this session by opening his mouth as often as possible.

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer - Reimbursed himself in the amount of $350 after purchasing an additional 1,000 of those misleading "State of South Carolina - Mother of the Lieutenant Governor" business cards his mom likes to hand out. Also reimbursed himself $12 after purchasing an updated copy of the State of South Carolina Driver's Manual.

Rep. Catherine Ceips - Received a $500 contribution from the Atlantic Ocean and a note reading, "Very thirsty - please send more sand."

Rep. Nikki Haley - Returned a $5 contribution from some idiot wanting her to use her new "Assistant Majority Whip" on his bare behind.

Sen. Jakie Knotts - Received a $1,000 contribution - all of it in two-dollar bills - from former strip club partner Kermit LaForce. State Ethics Commission employees noted that many of the bills were "oddly crumpled" and had a "musky odor and slippery sheen" to them.

Sen. John Land - Received $1,000 from someone he may or may not recuse himself from voting for when their name comes up as a Worker's Comp appointee.

Sen. Glenn McConnell - Returned $28.3 billion in contributions after the Ethics Commission ruled that deferred interest on Confederate War Bonds doesn't count.

Sen. Glenn Reese - Reported the five dozen chocolate-covered Krispy Kreme donuts he's shoved down his throat while traveling from Spartanburg during the first week of session as "in-kind" contributions.

Rep. Bill Sandifer - Refused a $1 contribution from Playgirl magazine that was offered as a condition of his posing nude in the publication's "Men of the S.C. State House" issue. On behalf of us all, Representative, thank you!!!

Rep. Annette Young - Returned a $500 campaign contribution to Dewar's with a note saying "Keep your goddamned money, I want some goddamned Scotch."

Count on FITS to keep you up to speed on all the latest campaign finance news!!!

Friday, January 13, 2006

The State Newspaper: A Liberal Rag?


So the Governor's Office thinks The State newspaper is nothing but a low-down, dirty liberal rag?

So says Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer, at least, who responded to the paper's inquiries about former Communications Director Chris Drummond's appointment to the SCETV Board of Directors by calling the paper out for a "liberal bias."

Everyone knows editorial page editor Brad Warthen's political views are slightly to the left of the love child of Barbra Striesand and Rodney King, but can the same be said of the newsroom? Or, in this specific case, political reporter Aaron Gould Sheinin?

While the answer is probably somewhere between "likely" and "yes," it's curious that the "L-Bomb" was dropped in this particular story - and on this particular reporter.

Honestly, a former governor's office communications dude (thankfully not our boy sic Willie) was hired to a board position in the industry in which he previously worked. So what? Last time we checked, the SCETV board didn't have a say in the network's content, and a FITS investigation has concluded the said employee isn't being paid a dime by either SCETV or the gubna's campaign.

Aside from Senator John Land - who probably thinks the governor is acting in a racist manner when flushing the toilet after going #2 - why is anybody really offended by this?

But since Sawyer decided to respond by procuring the launch codes and going nuclear on South Carolina's largest newspaper, let's take a look at the premise he's operating from.

The State is definitely tilted more to the left of the political spectrum than the average paper in our state. That's obvious. Just take John Monk's "News Columnist" position. Seriously, what is that? Are you reporting facts, or are you telling us your opinion? Usually Monk, despite his many endearing qualities, is telling us his opinion and using the facts that he thinks best illustrate that opinion. Trying to disguise that as "news" - which The State is most assuredly doing - is plain wrong.

There's also no denying that The State's newsroom had it out for Sanford's Medicaid waiver and school choice plan from the start, and that his income tax cut didn't get equal time in the paper whenever Sen. Hugh Leatherman pulled the string on his repeating doll (a.k.a. "state economist" Bill Gillespie), who bashed it mercilessly as a service-crippling, class warfare scheme.

The unfortunate part about this situation, though, is the reporter who's getting the high hard one from the gubna's press office is actually one of the fairer guys out there. Sure, Mr. Gould Sheinin has popped one off on Sanford from time to time, but he's popped one off on a lot of other people, too. On a day-to-day basis, Sheinin actually covers the issues surrounding the Legislature and the Governor's Office with as much fairness as the next reporter.

The State is up for sale, and so it'll be interesting to see how (if) new ownership decides to keep playing a left-leaning paper in a right-leaning state.

Until then FITS, would humbly recommend that a) readers of The State who don't already read between the lines learn to do so, b) Mr. Sawyer remember that "they got more ink than you got blood" and c) Chris Drummond get himself a new publicity photo. Honestly, you look like Howdy Doody, kid.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New Chamber Lobbyist Rocks State House


FITS has always had a bit of a beef with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. Seriously, what other "pro-business" advocacy group is all about promoting jacked-up spending and shiny new government programs as the elixir for our state's centuries-old underperformance? Oh we forgot, the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

The sad fact is that South Carolina would most assuredly stay at the bottom of the national barrel in terms of income levels, unemployment and educational achievement if Hunter Howard and his Democrat-schilling minions were running the state.

Wait a minute ... Hunter Howard and his Democrat-schilling minions ARE running the state.

Oh well, as much as we here at FITS love to hate on business types that sell out to the pork-lust of Columbia glad-handers like Pork Barrel, Mein Cooper and Huge Leatherman, there apparently now strides across the legislative stage perhaps the most compelling reason we've ever seen to abandon the struggle for lower taxes, limited government and more personal freedoms and just give in to ... well, whatever she tells us to give in to.

Her name is Megan Dooley (pictured above), and no, she's not a fem-bot or a figment of your imagination, she's the real-life, flesh-and-blood new Chamber lobbyist that's got heads turning in downtown Columbia faster than a cop car chasing Andre Bauer down Assembly Street.

Since Miss Dooley has pretty much single-handedly obliterated the "State House Top Ten Hotties" list FITS did awhile back, we figure she deserves a list all her own.

So, without further adieu, from one sister to another, FITS' is proud to offer "Dooley Dating Do's and Dont's," your key, Miss Dooley, to avoiding lots of drama this legislative session as the drool from of a bunch of overweight, middle-age politicos pools at your ankles pretty much everywhere you go on the State House grounds:

DO ... wear boots. Seriously, people are going to drool in sufficient amounts around you that the water is likely reach your ankles.

DON'T ... even THINK about going out on a date with either Will Folks or Mark Sweatman. Boys like those two are ANIMALS!

DO ... consider dating nice boys like John Dillard.

DON'T ... EVER let a legislator say to you, "do you mind if I close this door and talk to you in private?" The translation to that sentance is "I'm closing this door so that no one will see me attempt to show you my privates."

DO ... understand that all the other girl lobbyists are probably going to hate you for a little while.

DON'T ... ever let John Graham Altman tell you you're not that bright. He's the one who's not that bright.

DO ... remember that rings on fingers in Columbia mean NOTHING.

DON'T ... forget where you came from and what you believe in.

DO ... listen to girls like Katie Dunning and Sara Hopper. They're not only hot but they've got the spunk and brains to command respect in the little boy's world you're entering.

DON'T ... forget to keep an eye on your drink at all times when sampling the legislative nightlife. We're betting even Eldridge Emory ain't above trying to slip you a roofie.

DO ... remember that no matter how seriously others take you, you're only as serious as you take yourself.

DON'T ... did we mention to stay away from boys like Will Folks and Mark Sweatman?

Go get 'em, kid. And you can thank us for the skinny over coffee and Cosmo one morning ...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

They're Back!!!


Ahh yes, it's that time of year again ...

Like a bad episode of 'The Twilight Zone' or a never-ending version of Stevie Wonder's 'I Just Called to Say I Love You,' your duly-elected Legislators are back at the teet today ready to suck the life out of your livelihood and set the State of South Carolina back yet another 20-30 years.

And while we've never claimed to be Nostradamus, here are FITS' long-awaited predicitions for what you can expect from your 2006 General Assembly over the next six months of glad-handin', ass-kissin', back-stabbin', taxpayer-abusin' fun:

Prediction #1: Rep. Ken Kennedy will grab the microphone on at least 112 different occasions to say "Mista Speaker I'm a bit confused ..."

Prediction #2: Speaker Pork Barrel, after a day of fun with Rep. Kennedy on the House floor, will entertain his colleauges by showing them how effectively Gov. Mark Sanford's Executive Budget doubles as a doorstop in the Ways & Means conference room.

Prediction #3: Green's Discount Beverages on Assembly Street will have to restock its entire floor supply of Dewar's White Label Scotch at least 25 times on account of Rep. Annette Young.

Prediction #4: Sen. Phil Leventis will brandish the Senate "Sword" at some point during an impassioned filibuster, telling Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer to "come on down and get some."

Prediction #5: In a moment of distracted rage, Sanford Spokesman Joel Sawyer will let his ghetto side slip and inadvertantly call Sen. Leventis a "bitch."

Prediction #6: Rep. Chip Limehouse's public breast-feeding bill will somehow result in another e-mail scandal for Attorney General staffer Tommy Windsor.

Prediction #7: Rep. John Graham Altman will disguise himself as an infant and attempt to abuse Rep. Limehouse's breastfeeding bill with WIS Reporter Kara Gormley, adding further momentum to the movement to duct-tape his mouth shut.

Prediction #8: Someone on the House floor will fall asleep listening to Rep. Converse Chellis.

Prediction #9: Sen. Greg Ryberg will attempt to pass legislation authorizing the S.C. Adjutant General's office to procure atomic weaponry for the purpose of detonating a nuclear device inside Betty Mabry's office.

Prediction #10: Sen. Jakie Knotts will spoil the annual DNR Legislative Reception by showing up ten minutes early and devouring the entire buffet line ... except of course for one morsel of roasted duck for his dog 'Boom Boom' waiting out in the car.

Prediction #11: The Back Porch restaurant will serve as the backdrop for a nasty scene between Rep. Bill Sandifer and someone who didn't notice the "Assistant Majority Leader" sign that used to be posted on his Blatt Building office door back when he was still important.

Prediction #12: Sen. Glenn McConnell will announce that packets of compressed air recently discovered about the H.L. Hunley could generate enough power to operate every single Santee Cooper generator for the next 100 years, provided of course that the governor is not allowed to appoint any more board members.

Prediction #13: Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper will get run over by a fire truck in downtown Columbia that was attempting to assist law enforcement in handling Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's latest display of road rage.

Prediction #14: After listening to Young MC's "Bust a Move," Will Folks will hit on the new S.C. Chamber of Commerce lobbyist everybody is talking about, only to have Mark Sweatman immediately challenge him to a "pimp-duel."

Predicition #15: Gov. Mark Sanford will get something passed!

Happy Legislating Everybody!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

FITS' Leadership Post II - Just the Merits


Although on the opposite side of the nation's bloodiest conflict from the subject of FITS' first leadership post, Abraham Lincoln, Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) President Jefferson Davis was also in possession of numerous qualities which, much like Lincoln, have elevated him to a position of prominence in history.

Seldom personable in his interaction with fellow politicians, Davis was derided by many of his colleauges in Washington D.C. (and later in Richmond, Va.) as distant and unfeeling. One such colleauge famously described the first and only President of the Confederacy as "cold as a serpent and ambitious as Lucifer." Notoriously uncompromising in his virtue, Davis often riled those in power by eschewing the pork barrel tradeoffs so common in politics from time immemorial.

On one such occasion, prior to heeding the secession call of his native Mississippi, Davis asked a fellow Senator to support an appropriation for his home state. The Senator replied by asking Davis if he would consider trading him his support for an unrelated appropriation in his home state.

In all its glory, not to mention its unmistakable relevance to today's South Carolina General Assembly, here was Davis' response:

“Sir, I make no terms. I accept no compromises. If when I ask for an appropriation, the object shall be shown to be proper and the expenditure constitutional, I defy the gentleman, for his conscience’ sake, to vote against it. If it shall appear to him otherwise, then I expect his opposition, and only ask that it shall be directly, fairly and openly exerted. The case shall be presented on its single merit, on that I wish it to stand or fall.”

Good luck teaching the vast majority of elected officials in South Carolina that kind of resolve conducting the people's business.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

FITS' Leadership Post I - The Slings and Arrows


Shakespeare called them "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," and whether you want them slicing their way through the air towards you or not, they are a de facto part of public life.

One example of dealing with these slings and arrows that came to FITS' attention recently is that of Abraham Lincoln while on his way to deliver what has become known as the "Gettysburg Address." What few know is that Lincoln was not the featured speaker that day in November 1863, nor were many in attendance particularly happy with his participation. Historian Shelby Foote describes the reaction of both newsmen and citizens to his announced presence as ranging from "bland to indignant."

But Lincoln went on to give what he later called "my little speech," saying first of the naysayers, "These comments constitute a fair specimen of what has occurred to me through life. I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice, and have received a great deal of kindness not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it."

The speech was, initially at least, a disaster.

Lincoln, whose two-and-a-half minute remarks followed a soaring two-hour speech from famed Massachusetts Orator Edward Everett, failed miserably to inspire the crowd of some 15,000 that had gathered to dedicate the new cemetary. He received only a smattering of applause, which witnesses called "barely polite," and his home state paper, the Chicago Times, said dismissively, "the cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

Criticized in advance for even attending the ceremony, frowned upon by those present for his poor performance and ridiculed after the fact by the media, Lincoln's "little speech" nonetheless became the most famous, most quoted, most memorized and most memorable Presidential address in our nation's history.

Like him or not, Lincoln did not shy from "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." He did his job in spite of them.

As the 2006 Legislative Session convenes, FITS will be doing a series of periodic historical posts like this one designed to show leadership traits that we should look for in our current elected officials. Our next historical post will focus on Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) President Jefferson Davis.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sen. Phil LeBuster Receives Prestigious Award


FITS has learned that Sumter Senator Phil LeBuster has recently been awarded the Association of Obfuscating Pompous Airheads' (AOPA) Lifetime Oxygen Depletion Award for his consistent efforts to suck the life out of the legislative process by filibustering anything proposed by Gov. Mark Sanford. LeBuster, whose dull, nasal tenor has been directly responsible for hijacking countless hours of Senate deliberations, ulitmately received the award four days after it was initially to have been presented to him owing to the fact that he wished to make a few brief remarks.

"It is an honor to be recognized by a group that epitomizes everything I am and everything that I stand - literally for hours on end - for," LeBuster said at some point during his 96-hour acceptance speech, which was interrupted once by applause from his wife. "And if you think hearing me talk for the last three years has been fun, wait till I filibuster my own bill attacking the governor's Medicaid waiver this session. That'll be a real hum-dinger."

LeBuster, who opposes any effort to make government more efficient, effective or accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, was hailed as a "hero of the paper pusher" by AOPA's 2005 Legislator of the Year, Luke Rankin, who was honored for his superb blowhard performance this past session on the Santee Cooper issue.

"Phil LeBuster knows that the only way to continue subsidizing Dr. Oscar Lovelace's medical practice is by making sure South Carolina's Medicaid system remains as rife with waste and inefficiency as possible," Rankin said. "I salute him for standing in the way of progress wherever it may be found and look forward to helping him waste millions of additional health care dollars in the years to come."