Dear Big Daddy,
A fight on the Assembly floor? How great is that?!
–Pugilist in Petaluma
I wouldn’t exactly call it a fight. Well, not in the punches and blood sense. But I do have to say that Warren Furutani is my new favorite legislator. As a group, Democrats have a well-deserved reputation for wimpiness, but there was Furutani going all raging bull in Don Wagner’s face. Also, hat tip to Jerry Hill. He’s far from being the burliest legislator, but he was the first one with the guts to put himself between the pair of sumo-sized combatants.
Not that the logic behind the whole thing made any more sense than your typical third-grade dustup. When Anthony Portantino got all indignant about Wagner’s hackneyed Tony Soprano reference, all I saw was a guy looking for a way to be offended. Maybe I don’t get it cause I ain’t Italian, but the only thing that bothered me was Wagner’s lack of imagination. At least put on a bad Pacino accent and make me an offer I can’t refuse.
Well, until Wagner stood up again and went out of his way to be a jerk. That’s when Furutani went magenta in the noggin and stepped to him. And, for a brief moment before the Cal Channel cameras thoughtlessly turned away, my heart soared. If Hill hadn’t have been there, I think Furutani might have gone all Insane in the Ukraine and actually slugged the guy (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go to YouTube and type in “Fists fly in Ukrainian parliament.” They’re the UFC of legislatures).
Now I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I’m advocating violence. Well, sure, when he got up again and started mouthing off, I kinda wanted to smack the guy. But that was never my style. Punching people is for amateurs. Too likely to lead to sympathy for the punchee. Sure, I was the toughest SOB in the Legislature in my time. But if you made me mad, I’d leave your nose intact so you could smell the stench of your new office, a used cat box in a rancid alley behind a restaurant so bad even the rats turn up their little noses.
Besides, session had been going for about eight days. Everyone’s temper was up. Wagner went out of his way to make up, at least with Portantino. And the whole thing happened almost on the exact one-year anniversary of Wagner losing his son, so I’ll cut him some extra slack. RIP. I can only imagine.
Still, the Dems need more Furutanis, guys (or girls) who are willing to mix it up and get bloody. Let’s look at what Wagner was actually saying. Here was a member of the political party that holds 35 percent of the seats in the Assembly, a party which has for years refused to negotiate any budget compromises, whose sole power consists of the ability to obstruct the will of the other 65 percent of that body, accusing the other side of extortion even after they’ve made billions upon billions of cuts.
In other words, if you’re looking for Tony Soprano, buddy, he just might be that guy staring you in the face when you shave in the morning. Just sayin’.
Though when I think about it, it’s an insult to Mr. Soprano to compare him to any of the amateurs I see these days when I turn on Cal Channel. Especially on the Republican side. Old Tony had a knack for getting something out of a bad situation. These Reeps can’t even get anything out of a good one.
Years from now, when we look back on this first majority vote budget, I think it will be remembered for how little they got for all the cards they were holding. To paraphrase Michael Corleone: “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, but he wouldn’t settle for anything less than a complete overhaul of public employee pensions and a hard spending cap before they even begin to consider beginning to negotiate and there’s really nothing to negotiate anyway because even considering taxes is off the table. So I just shot him.”