Chain of Fools

A shake of a finger--maybe even the finger--at this misbehaving and annoying lot.

This week's nominees for the Hall of Shame:

· UA wide receiver Bobby Wade, who faces gun charges for an incident at a Scottsdale nightclub.

Let's make this clear from the jump: I question the motives, intelligence and, in most cases, the manhood of any football player who carries a gun. You're a football player, for cryin' out loud! You're either blessed with enormous strength or blazing speed, or both. What do you need a gun for, you pansy?

Even worse, he was packin' at a club in Scottsdale! What, were you afraid that President Bush's daughters were going to use fake IDs to get drunk again and then bitch-slap you? I mean, talk about your rough 'hoods. Why, Scottsdale's got to be the meanest spot this side of Newport, R.I.

No wonder the UA gets its ass kicked in football these days. Its best player is afraid to go to Scottsdale without a gun.

Not to be outdone, Arizona State suspended one of its starting linemen for a couple games after he discharged a weapon at a nightclub near the ASU campus in Tempe. And we all know how rough an area Tempe is. It's like South Scottsdale.

· UA football coach John Mackovic. First, he goes on national TV and incriminates himself for an NCAA violation. Then, when it's pointed out to him, he snaps back that it's not a violation. Then, he says that everybody does it. Then he says that the rule has to be changed because it's a health and safety issue. Plus, he has the police blotter things to deal with.

All of that doesn't really amount to much. The problem here is that the public doesn't seem to care one way or the other. The UA football program is on the verge of becoming completely inconsequential.

For the past 20 years or so, tens of thousands of local fans have lived and died and had their hearts stomped on by Arizona football teams. There were breathtaking highs and gut-wrenching lows and too many blown shots at the Rose Bowl to even count. But almost always there was that passion.

Now, you look around town and there's NOTHING. It used to be a light-hearted joke that UA fans just went to the football games to have something to do until basketball season started. Last year it was no longer a joke. This year, they might just skip the football part altogether.

· New U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

This is a relatively minor one, but boy, is it annoying. Recently, Carmona wrote a letter to the Daily Star and he began the letter with "As I transition ... "

"Transition" is a noun, as are several thousand other words that are being misused these days by ostensibly educated people who should know better.

Oddly enough, I don't really mind when rappers and hip-hop lowlifes butcher the language and make up new slang terms. After all, they have to keep it real and they gotta get paid and blah, blah, blah, and where's my bitches at?

But people who have gone to college, earned degrees and are in positions of authority have certain responsibilities. If one is part of a bureaucracy and really doesn't have much power, he can at least protect and preserve the American language as he goes about his paper-shuffling duties.

Abraham Lincoln once sent a piece of legislation over to Capitol Hill and when the House and Senate were done with it, Lincoln said it was so watered down, it was like "soup made from the shadow of a crow that had starved to death."

That pretty much sums up the power of the Surgeon General these days. It's a nice title to have and as long as he doesn't pull a Joycelyn Elders, he should be able to ride out the last two years of the Bush administration without much trouble.

Then, when he's done, he can make the transition to the next phase of his life.

· Tucson's drivers.

Last week, we had one of the strongest storms in recent memory. It did lots of damage and dumped lots of rain. And it also brought out the absolute worst in Tucson's drivers.

There were power outages all over the place and several major intersections either lost their signals altogether or had the emergency flashing reds come on. Obviously, the law says that in such cases, the intersections are supposed to be treated like four-way stops, where ONE CAR from each north-south lane goes, then ONE CAR from each east-west lane goes. It's really not that difficult. Of course, these days the system doesn't even work at actual four-way stops, where it all too often degenerates into some macho, me-first crap.

Anyway, during and after the storm, it was unbelievable. Every intersection was like a demolition derby. Six or seven cars would go from one direction at a time and then somebody would creep out from the other direction and get honked at and flipped off.

As I waited to go through the intersection of River and La Cañada, I saw a neighbor of mine barrel through the intersection in his truck. He was at least the eighth guy in a string of vehicles that raced through the intersection without stopping. When I saw him later, he said that he had had the right of way, because "the law says that (in those situations), the people going north and south have the right of way."

I said a silent prayer that this would be the dumbest thing he would ever utter in his life. I also hoped that nobody else had heard what he said, lest our property values would plummet. "Yeah, Tom, don't you live in that subdivision, 'Rancho de Los Gringos Estupidos'?"

During our conversation, I asked him which political party he belonged to and he proudly told me that he didn't vote. So, he might kill one of us with his insane driving, but at least we can't blame him for charter schools.

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