The Range

Ill Will

Well, at least the cops won't have to dust off their riot gear! The Range was busy printing up Final Four T-shirts last Saturday night when the UA Wildcats blew a 15-point lead in the last four minutes against the Fightin' Illini of Illinois University. In a game that stretched into overtime, the Cats ended their season with a 90-89 loss. So long, Channing! So long, Salim!

And now, let us speak of it no more.

Elsewhere in the sports world, last Thursday's Diamondbacks-Rockies game was called off in the fifth inning after bees began swarming over the players. Metrosexual pitcher Darren Oliver mused that the bees may have been attracted to the coconut oil in his hair.

Capitol Crapshoot

Republicans at the Arizona Legislature celebrated screw-the-immigrant week with a festival of legislation aimed at keeping noncitizens from learning a damn thing. Legislation asking voters to amend the state Constitution to prohibit government documents from being in any language but English passed the House on a 31-29 vote; House Bill 2264, which would ban illegal immigrants from getting in-state tuition, passed the House on a 38-22 vote; and a new ban on noncitizens receiving services, such as adult education and literacy classes or child-care subsidies, passed the House 33-26.

Democrats tried to float the idea that the last measure required a three-fourths majority because it expanded the voter-passed Prop 200, but Republicans weren't buying.

Democratic efforts to slow House proceedings are being met with hardball tactics from Speaker Jim Weiers, who is leaving Democratic bills at the bottom of the pile when it comes time to cast the final vote. If certain Democrats start wasting time, the Democratic bills don't get heard. The strategy not only speeds up the process, but also pits Democrats who want to pass bills against Democrats who won't shut up. (We're looking your way, Ted Downing.)

Other wacky moments: The House Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 in favor of allowing people to carry guns in bars.

Meanwhile, Gov. Janet Napolitano broke out the veto stamp again this week, rejecting a bill that would have allowed private companies to get tax credits for scholarships provided to private and parochial schools. The bill could have cost the state as much as $10 million in its first year.

Snuffin' Smith

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission turned to the nuclear option for the first time last week, voting to demand Rep. David Burnell Smith's resignation from his House seat.

The commission went along with a recommendation from its investigator in the case, Gene Lemon, who said Smith overspent his Clean Elections limit by at least $6,000 during his primary. Smith was ordered to forfeit his seat and repay the $34,625 he got to run his campaign. He was also socked with a $10,000 fine.

Smith--a perennial Scottsdale candidate who finally won a House seat last November--has vowed to fight the ruling. He's retained one of the top election attorneys in the state, Lee Miller (who's also a lobbyist, by the way), to defend him in court.

The little question will be over Smith's accounting records. The big question will be whether the Citizens Clean Elections Commission has the power to boot someone from office. Although there's no constitutional authority for them to overturn an election, Smith signed a contract agreeing to the spending rules.

And the biggest question of all at the Capitol is based on Smith's eerie complexion: Is he really human?

Burning Bush

President George Bush's visit to Tucson last week launched the start of a steep collapse in his poll numbers, according to a Gallup poll commissioned by USA Today and CNN. The national survey showed that Bush's approval numbers had sunk to just 45 percent, which are the worst of his presidency. The previous week, Bush's approval numbers were at 52 percent.

The same poll showed Bush's disapproval rating was on the rise, from 44 to 49 percent.

Our favorite pundit, John McLaughlin, posited several potential causes for the drop, including rising gas prices, a soaring deficit, Iraq war casualties, nukes in Iran, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, overseeing government propaganda and a bogus Social Security reform plan.

Or maybe you just can't fool all of the people all of the time.

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