Tom on Boehners, Coulters and construction-cost estimates--oh my!

It's an election year, and the juices are flowing again. I spent most of last year watching the Bush administration self-destruct, and I've been waiting patiently for the Democrat Cavalry to come charging over the hill to make things right. In the meantime, I have a few early-season observations.

· With style trumping substance all over the place, how wise was it for the Republicans to pick as their new House majority leader somebody named Boehner?

· I'm one of those increasingly rare Americans who will have a new congressman representing them in the House of Representatives next year. With surgical gerrymandering and obscene amounts of money required to run for Congress, the biannual turnover is but a trickle. However, with Jim Kolbe stepping down, my district will have new representation.

I suppose it would be nice for the Dems to win the seat, if for no other reason than to put pressure on that Boehner guy.

Currently leading the pack are two women, former state legislator Gabrielle Giffords and former TV anchorwoman Patty Weiss.

I'm not all that fond of Ms. Weiss, for a couple of relatively petty reasons. One of them is that I saw her at a student forum several years ago, and she came off as arrogant and aloof. Of course, this would not keep me from voting for her against any and all Republicans. It would be nice, however, if she would have an opinion or two to go along with her bare-bones understanding of certain issues. You know, shatter that anchorperson stereotype.

· Nobody's favorite (self-proclaimed) political pundit, Ann Coulter, was again given a pass by the national media after committing yet another unforgivable (and un-American) act. Coulter, best known for her Nancy Sinatra-as-a-hooker wardrobe (and who is apparently embittered by the fact that she still can't get a man or a woman to be attracted to her), made a large amount of money by calling Americans who dare to disagree with George Bush "traitors." Late last month, she called for the murder of a Supreme Court justice with whom she disagrees.

Speaking at a college, Coulter said that someone "should put rat poison in Justice John Paul Stevens' crème brulee." Then, she added, "For those of you in the media, that's a joke."

But it's not a joke. There are limits to free speech. I don't know if it's against the law to call for the death of a public official; it might not be illegal, but it's certainly wrong. And trying to claim that it's just a joke afterward is pathetic. Try going to a public forum and calling for the assassination of the president, and then add, "I'm just kidding." See if there isn't a backlash of some kind.

I mentioned this to my friend, Emil Franzi, with whom I do a radio show. He tried to shrug it off with a, "Oh, guys on your side do that stuff all the time." But that's not true. Give me one example of a person who is presented as a legitimate commentator and/or spokesperson for the American left (as Coulter is portrayed on the right by the whores at Fox News) who has called for the death of an American official, jokingly or otherwise. It just doesn't happen.

Adding to the ridiculous nature of Coulter's bile is the fact that Stevens is a lifelong Republican who was appointed to the court by Republican Gerald Ford.

· There was a story in the newspaper recently about how the proposed Interstate 10 tunnel under downtown would cost roughly $380 million. Near the end of the article was a mention of how the city had paid HDR Inc. $200,000 to study and come up with the cost of the project. That seemed a bit high to me, so I called my daughter, Darlene, who is finishing her master's in traffic engineering at Cornell.

Without my telling her what HDR had come up, she went online, looked up standard figures and did some preliminary math, and within 40 minutes, she got back to me with an estimate of $360 million.

I called City Manager Mike Hein and told him. He explained that the city has to follow certain procedures in such cases, that certain things can't be done in-house for fear of appearing self-serving, and that ADOT had given the city a 30-day deadline to get it done. He added that in the short bid time available, other bids for the study had been even higher than the $200,000.

Well, I just want him (and you taxpayers) to know that Darlene would have done it for half that amount.

· This has absolutely nothing to do with politics, but it griped my butt. Last week, some New York City kid named Epiphanny Prince scored 113 points in a high-school basketball game. She played all 32 minutes of the game that her team won--by a margin of 105 points! This has prompted the predictable outcries about sportsmanship, but you just can't legislate that sort of thing.

There should, however, be a law against naming your kid Epiphanny, especially if you're not even going to spell it right.