The Range

Straight Talk Depress

America seems to be souring on Mr. Straight-Talker! John McCain's presidential campaign hit single digits in South Carolina and Nevada polls; he's down to $2 million in the bank after a lousy fundraising quarter; he's axing campaign staff; and immigration reform, which he sort of backed when he could be bothered to visit Washington, D.C., went down big last month.

Now McCain--who, by the way, happens to be our newest MySpace pal--is on YouTube fending off questions from bloggers that he's dropping out of the race. Says McCain: "I think they must be smoking something more than what's legal here in the state of South Carolina."

The Arizona Republican Party sorta tried to pick up McCain's spirit in the AZGOP Tusk Times, reprinting an Arizona Republic editorial praising McCain's fighting spirit. When it wasn't tongue-bathing McCain, the Republic editorial cited a London Times story in which GOP state chair Randy Pullen said that a lousy fundraising quarter could drive McCain from the race. Is it just us, or does anyone else find it odd that Arizona's mainstream media appear more supportive of the state's senior senator than his own party leadership?

Elsewhere in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, Mitt Romney tried to demonstrate his crisis-management skills by boasting to The Boston Globe that he acted decisively way back in '83 when his sons complained that the family dog, which had been in a carrier strapped to the station wagon's roof during a drive from Boston to Ontario, was raining diarrhea down the car's rear window. Romney said that he calmly pulled over, hosed down the car and the dog, and continued onward.

But rather than being impressed with Romney's methodical problem-solving skills, Americans asked: What kind of asshole straps a dog to the roof of a car for a cross-country drive and doesn't care that the poor animal is so scared that it's actually shitting itself? PETA's Ingrid Newkirk told Time magazine: "... the dog was, basically, being tortured." Romney assured the media that his dog was always jumping up on the roof of the car. Yeah, we're sure the dog loved it!

Shop 'Til You Drop

Sunday afternoon shoppers beat a hasty exit out of Park Place mall when an awkward social moment between a reputed gang member and a passer-by turned into a gunfire debacle in Dillard's. Both the gun-toting gangbanger and the passer-by were shot in the scuffle over a pistol, as was a nearby shopper. The mall's evacuation really ruined the afternoon matinee of Live Free or Die Hard.

In other shopping news: Tucson is crazy for the iPhone! Thousands of early adopters lined up for hours to buy the $500 phone/Web browser/camera/music player/tip calculator. Memo to management: It sure looks like a great 21st-century newsgathering tool ...

Hire Authority

Employers, beware! Gov. Janet Napolitano signed legislation that busts bosses who hire illegal immigrants. First offense: You've got a big fine and a temporary suspension of your business license. Second offense: You're out of business in Arizona, mister. Foolproof defense: You're only guilty if you hire the illegal immigrants "knowingly" or "intentionally."

The new legislation will surely help sweeten the pot when it comes time to lure out-of-state employers.

"Immigration is a federal responsibility, but I signed HB 2779 because it is now abundantly clear that Congress finds itself incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs," Napolitano press-released. "I signed it, too, out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor."

Napolitano said she may be calling a special session so lawmakers could consider some exceptions, like keeping hospitals or power plants open even if management has allowed an undocumented worker on the payroll.

In a bulletin to the press, State Rep. Russell Pearce, the bill's biggest sponsor, announced: "After years of legislative efforts to get tough on illegal immigration, the governor is finally bowing to the public will. Even if she is late in coming, I welcome her to the party."

If nothing else, the bill will certainly give Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas more opportunities to raise his profile while he angles for the governor's office in 2010.

In other news from the Capitol: Napolitano vetoed the bill that would have created new hoops for Union Pacific to jump through before it could relocate a switching yard to Picacho Peak, saying the state was trying to step on the federal government's regulatory toes. She also said the legislation could complicate negotiations over commuter rail.

Rep. Jonathan Paton, the Tucson Republican who sponsored the bill, responded: "I think she cared more about the big railroads and the unions than she did about the little guy and the environment."