Tom skips basketball for an evening of GOP March Madness

As everyone knows, last Thursday was the best day of the entire year. It was the first day of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, a day when graveyard-shift workers can join writers and other unemployed people to veg out in front of the TV all day and night, watching nail-biting hoops action.

While the next day also has a full slate of games, it's not quite as fulfilling, because I can't eat meat on Fridays during Lent, so my snacking choices are limited.

However, let it be known that my commitment to my journalistic responsibilities as ... whatever the hell I am ... is so strong that last Thursday, I forewent the evening slate of NCAA games to drive all the way across Tucson to attend a "debate" featuring the four people running for the Republican nomination in the election to finish out the congressional term recently vacated by Gabrielle Giffords. (If you want real coverage of the event and the upcoming election, Mari Herreras and Jim Nintzel do a bang-up job of it elsewhere in this issue. I'll just tell you what I saw.)

First off, the thing was held at Sabino High School, which, as best as I can figure, is hard by the New Mexico state line. Complicating matters immensely is the fact that I was coming from the far-northwest side. Getting to Sabino from that part of town means packing a survival kit and leaving behind a last will and testament, just in case you don't make it.

If you take the polar route (via Sunrise Drive), you go past Snyder Road, which invariably makes you angry. Snyder Road runs east and west. It heads down into a hollow, where it comes to an end. Not far to the east, on the other side of the hollow, it picks up again. Because Snyder doesn't go all the way through, people need to go all the way down Sabino Canyon Road, then across on Tanque Verde Road, then back up the Catalina Highway to get to Sabino. It probably adds a half-hour to the drive.

I want to know what's going on down in Snyder Hollow. Is that where they're keeping the head of Walt Disney? Is there some secret government lab down there where they do experiments on things, including on the head of Walt Disney?

Anyway, I finally got to Sabino just as the thing was starting. The well-attended event was being put on the Sabino Teen-Age Republicans. No, really! They seemed like really nice kids, and I certainly don't want to dog them out, but teenage Republicans?! What, is the Druid Club still on suspension after what happened during last year's summer solstice? A real test of self-control is whether you can say the phrase "teenage Republicans" without shuddering involuntarily.

The kids introduced the government teacher, who graciously serves as the club's sponsor, but they need to get an English teacher in there as well. "Teenage" is never hyphenated. Never. Just check The Associated Press Stylebook, which is just like our Bible, except it doesn't have all that begattin' stuff in it. Don't make me come over there and copy-edit your banner!

The four candidates—Dave Sitton, Martha McSally, Jesse Kelly and Frank Antenori—are a rather formidable bunch. If I were a Republican ... well, if I were a Republican, I'd probably slit my wrists. But actual Republicans are going to have quite a time deciding for whom to vote in this thing. Sitton, with his long background in broadcasting, is polished and articulate. Antenori is pugnacious and does a good job of playing to the crowd. Kelly is really tall, and McSally has a fixed-glare smile that could have won her roles in any one of several Stanley Kubrick movies.

All four have basically the same (wrong) answers to everything. They all think Barack Obama is the worst president of all time, which is hilarious, seeing as how he's not even the worst president out of the last two. They hate Obamacare; they hate regulations; and they LOVE guns. They're absolutely rabid for Israel and about coal. Somewhat surprisingly, they all (including the three military vets) want to get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later, and there was an absolute orgy of saber-rattling concerning a nuclear Iran. They all want unconditional support for whatever Israel does, plus more and more sanctions, backed up by a serious threat of military force.

Hey, I've got an idea: Why not try force on whoever it is that is keeping Snyder Road from going through, and then we'll have had a nice warm-up if it ever gets to that point with Iran?

The questions were asked by my radio partner, Emil Franzi, and Jon Justice. The latter started off with this long, rambling talk about how his questions often take the form of a long, rambling talk. It was like incestuous speechifying.

As the candidates hit the right buttons, the people seated near me would nod and say, "Mmm-hmmm." That's the Caucasian version of, "Amen!" uttered by members of a choir that is being preached to. And in this post-civil rights era in American history, there's certainly nothing wrong with white people having their own political party.

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