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What a Character!

State Treasurer David Petersen announced last week that instead of seeking re-election, he would instead spend the rest of his term clearing his good name--which was kinda odd, because it hadn't really been smeared yet.

But that happened soon enough, as the Phoenix news media began feasting on the story of how Attorney General Terry Goddard was investigating Petersen for stealing from the public and violating basic conflict-of-interest rules.

Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services--which, incidentally, we mis-ID'ed as Capitol News Services last week--reported that Goddard was looking into claims that Petersen helped himself to a $1,500 check that was originally made out to a school and improperly used state resources to boost--you just gotta love this--an integrity-training organization, Character Counts! And better yet: Petersen is accused of traveling the state on the public's dime promoting the organization, which was paying him for his services.

We're reminded of an old proverb we recently came across: "Temptation usually comes through a door that has been deliberately left open." If only we could remember where we had read it ... oh, yeah, it was on the Character Counts! Web site.


Stampede!

Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and his wife, Beth, narrowly escaped death when a team of horses pulling the KOLD News 13 wagon in the annual Rodeo Parade broke loose and crashed into His Honor's buggy. Tucson's first couple suffered minor injuries and were treated at University Medical Center.

KOLD aired its exclusive footage extensively on the evening news. And the Arizona Daily Star ran the story under the headline: "Tucson loves a parade." Ain't it the truth?


ASUcks!

In your face, Sun Devils! The UA men's basketball team delivered a 68-47 ass-whipping to Arizona State, redeeming themselves for all of this year's subpar games. The Cats wrap the regular season this week with games against Washington and Washington State.

Yeah, we know March Madness is in the air, but we're turning our attention to the debut of spring training. The hot ticket: The world-champion Chicago White Sox at Tucson Electric Park. You can have the crowds--we're just thirsty for a cold beer in the comfy confines of Hi Corbett Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies.

In other sports news: PGA Tour officials announced that Dove Mountain in Marana would host the Accenture Match Play Championship next February. Thanks, Conquistadores!


And Now For Something Completely Different

There aren't many people who are willing to appear in front of an audience at a global trade convention, strip off their business suit to reveal a gold leotard beneath, and then inflate a giant phallus-like attachment with a TV screen at the head.

But former Tucsonan Andy Bichlbaum--Sabino High, class of '81--did just that, as a stunt to draw attention to the downside of globalism.

Bichlbaum and his partner in crime, Mike Bonanno, make up The Yes Men, whose political actions take the form of high-concept pranks.

The Yes Men's first big hit was a satirical Bush for President Web site during George W.'s 2000 campaign. Being punk'd upset our future commander in chief so much that he told the press: "There ought to be limits to freedom."

Bichlbaum and Bonanno have gone on to impersonate World Trade Organization officials and other corporate types at conventions and on various news programs, with hilarious--and often disturbing--results. In one case, Bichlbaum, under the guise of one Granwyth Hulatberi, joined CNBC's European Market Wrap to calmly explain, according to the Yes Men's Web site, that "the rich are right because they have power, and the poor are wrong because they don't."

In another prank, he appeared on a BBC news program as Jude Finisterra, a representative of Dow Chemical, and said the company was taking full financial responsibility for a 1984 toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India, that killed 20,000 people and sickened more than 100,000.

"The immediate result was that Dow's share prices lost, like, $3 billion in 20 minutes," says Bichlbaum from his expatriate home in France. "But it bounced back as soon as everybody knew it was a hoax."

Where does the gold leotard come in? See for yourself in The Yes Men, a documentary about the pranks that Bichlbaum and Bonanno have performed in the U.S. and Europe.

Bichlbaum will be in Tucson next Thursday, March 9, for a screening of the film the Loft. He'll will also show some clips from his next film, which focuses on disasters ranging from global warming to the Bhopal catastrophe.

Also on the bill: Poisoned: The Workers of Brush Wellman, a 14-minute documentary by Pan Left's Heather Lares about a local ceramics maker which uses the highly toxic beryllium in the manufacturing process.

The curtain rises at 7 p.m. at the Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are a measly $5. For more tidbits about The Yes Men, visit www.theyesmen.org.

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