Pignanelli & Webb: It's Labor Day weekend. Time to reflect back on those fun summer experiences. Schoolchildren across the state are penning essays on the topic, "What I did on my summer vacation." As a public service to our readers, we asked Utah's politicians to respond to the similar inquiry. Here are the results:
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.: "Being the guv is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. I spent the summer schmoozing important people in neat resorts, hanging with the Mexican Prez, chowing down on tacos on State Street, doing guest performances with famous rock-and-roll bands, riding my Harleys, and cruising on a wave of a strong economy. My job approval ratings are sky high and life is good. My autumn project is to devise a way to keep those pesky legislators from hanging around Capitol Hill and fooling around with state government."
Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert: "I spent the summer giving speeches with plentiful references to the 'Huntsman-Herbert administration.' I don't think anyone has forgotten my name . . . so far."
Sen. Orrin Hatch: "I spent the summer trying to memorize the names of Congressman Rob Bishop and Congressman Chris Cannon but still forgot them in my convention speech. But I did remember to praise Congressman Jim Matheson. I took some time out from composing songs to look up the definition of an 'Urquhart.' It's an ancient Welsh name for an ungrateful upstart who is a pain in the neck."
Utah Democrat Party: "For this summer, we adopted the strategy of saying absolutely nothing. We hope everyone noticed."
Rep. Rob Bishop: "I worked on my dry wit during the summer. It's a little more moist now, but lots of people still don't get my jokes. It's like a story I told about Frank Pignanelli. One reason Frank is a little weird is that when he was young he thought he was a chicken. He made clucking noises and flapped his elbows and people made fun of him. I asked his parents why they just didn't tell him he was really a little boy, not a chicken, and they said, 'Well, we probably should have, but we were quite poor in those days and we really needed the eggs.' So why don't people get my jokes?"
Sen. Bob Bennett: "I spent the summer helping my senior senator, Orrin Hatch. We'll soon have legislation passed forbidding anyone with an unpronounceable ancient Welsh name from being elected to the Senate."
Congressman Chris Cannon: "I spent most my time hanging out with my Democrat friends. At least they're not running against me."
Congressman Jim Matheson: "With no opponent in sight, I spent the summer raising money and trying to convince Orrin to endorse me at the Republican convention."
Sen. Patrice Arent: "I went to so many prayer breakfasts this summer, I am now a member of good standing in at least four major religious denominations."
Radio talk show host Doug Wright: "I watched a lot of politicians this summer, and I noticed their major qualification is that they have the gift of gab. I happen to share that qualification, so I thought, hey, why not . . . ?"
Rep. LaVar Christensen: "It was a productive summer. I spent it developing detailed opinions on every subject in the universe, and I'm planning to demonstrate my knowledge, no longer than two hours per topic, in upcoming legislative meetings."
Rep. Steve Urquhart: "It's been a busy summer and I'm still working on a final project: Since my name is unpronounceable, I'm changing it to 'Steve Irk-Hatch.' "
Republican dissidents: "We spent the summer not supporting candidates, not supporting conservative public policy, not raising money or organizing the grass-roots but instead debating arcane party bylaws for many hours at Central Committee meetings."
Rep. Pat Jones: "I spent the summer enjoying the machinations of the Tax Reform Task Force. Since they refused to let me on the task force and haven't produced much, I guess I'll just have to keep the Jones-Mascaro bill going."
Sen. Curt Bramble: "My fellow senators wanted to enhance my interpersonal skills and were kind enough to sponsor my participation in a retreat to find and get in touch with my inner feminine persona. Well, I found her and argued with her for three days straight. Now I think I'm ready to run for Congress."
Speaker Greg Curtis: "House Republican leadership worked hard to ensure our summer meetings were devoid of the heated arguments, outrageous outbursts and usual bad behavior. I am proud of our success. Nothing helped more than to spike all the diet Cokes with Ritalin."
Utah banks and credit unions: "Watching all the bickering and fighting between IHC and other health-care providers/insurers during the summer meetings was great fun. We garnered great ideas for our future battles."
Utah lobbyists: "We respectfully extend our appreciation to the Legislature and governor's office for authorizing task forces that met throughout the summer on a frequent basis. Those year-round retainers are nice."
LDS Church Legal Department: "Although it took a fair amount of research, we did discover a little-known loophole in the Word of Wisdom that allows the sale of alcoholic beverages in church-owned retail developments."
Mayor Rocky Anderson: "Wow! What a great summer! I spent time recruiting candidates to run against those miserable council members who do not appreciate my vision and leadership. Robert Redford and I invited dozens of mayors from around the country to discuss pollution and the backward thinking of the Bush administration. I organized a protest against President George Bush, offended thousands of war veterans, and further isolated my city from the rest of the state. Then I just had time before summer's end to fire a few staff members and exchange heated insults with them in the news media. But the real highlight of the summer season was my bike tour in Italy where I was able to spread my heartfelt message of peace, love and harmony with others."
Deseret Morning News management: "We spent the summer as we do every season — apologizing for the antics of Frank and LaVarr."
Republican LaVarr Webb was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. He now is a political consultant and lobbyist. E-mail: email@example.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. A former candidate for Salt Lake mayor, Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. Pignanelli's spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is executive director of the state Department of Administrative Services in the Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. administration. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.