Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Arkansas Travelers

All the news these days is from Arkansas, or so it would seem if you tuned into Louisville's television stations for the 11 p.m. newscast yesterday evening. So we will do our best to find political and Kentucky tie-ins to justify writing about these developments here.

First, there was the story of the five-year-old hunter, Tre Merritt, who killed a black bear weighing more than 400 pounds in Dewitt, Arkansas. It is tempting to make an unflattering analogy to Huck versus Hillary, but we won't.

The second Arkansas story from yesterday has more promising parallels. That news item was, of course, the continuing Odyssey of Bobby Petrino, who is more like the Bill Clinton than the Ulysses of the football world, but more about that below.

Arkansans finally have a comeback for Eddie Sutton's infamous quote, made upon his leaving the Razorbacks to coach basketball at the University of Kentucky, that he would "crawl on his hands and knees" to get out of Arkansas.

Part of the reason Sutton left Arkansas was supposedly because he could not get along with Athletic Director Frank Broyles, the legendary Razorback football coach who will retire from the AD position this year. In what could be a sign of rough times ahead in Hogland, Petrino mistakenly pronounced Broyles without the final "s" -- as in "Coach Broil" -- at yesterday's hastily called 10:30 p.m. CST press conference in Fayetteville. In Arkansas, where football is a religion, that faux pas might not produce an immediate beheading, but it's bound to irritate die-hard Razorback fans as much as, say, Rick Pitino would be perturbed for being called "Coach Petrino."

But back to politics. For those who have been wondering why Bobby Petrino is the Bill Clinton of the football world, here are some reasons:

Both men have that shameless ability to deny with a straight face the shenanigans they've been up to, and like Hillary, the fans in Louisville and now Atlanta are understandably furious for being blindsided and betrayed.

Both are also slick at getting what they want by assuring their benefactors that they are not going to move anywhere, even as they secretly make plans to do precisely that. When the Clintons (intentionally plural) last ran for governor of Arkansas in 1990, Bill earnestly assured Arkansans that, of course, he would finish his term and that he had no plans to depart for Washington -- as earnestly as Petrino assured Louisville AD Tom Jurich and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank that he was in Louisville, make that Atlanta, make that . . . to stay. (Query whether, during his swearing-in ceremony in Frankfort yesterday, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo was mulling a similar game plan to run for a Senate seat in Washington.)

And both Bobby and Bill have a loyalty deficiency. Ask the fans in Louisville and Atlanta about this topic. Or the Clintons' supposed "friends" from their Whitewater days who ended up in jail while the White House pleaded ignorance.

Finally, say what you want about each, but both Bobby and Bill have audacity of hope. No, wait, that's the title of the book written by that other presidential candidate who's running against Hillary. But it does lead to this final tid-bit:

The nation is aware of two politicians born in Hope, Arkansas -- Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee -- but can you name a third one born there but who now lives in the Bluegrass? The answer is former Louisville Mayor David Armstrong, an Arkansas traveler who made a good move.

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