Larry Keeling: Can state of blue-phoria survive legislature's final day?

Herald-leader columnistApril 8, 2012 

FRANKFORT — A University of Kentucky alumnus who began following the basketball Cats and keeping score at home back in the day when Claude and Cawood were calling such names as Bob Burrow and Vernon Hatton and whose freshman year was highlighted by watching "Rupp's Runts" as often as possible found it difficult to generate a lot of curmudgeonly bile the past few days.

Sure, the General Assembly made it easier to feel all warm and fuzzy by virtue of being (mostly) out of town on its version of spring break, also known as the veto interim. So, we've enjoyed a full week with no ego clashes. No childish temper tantrums resulting in repeats of the verbal "hallway sex" episode from a few years back. No one hyping some dumb bill as the greatest thing since an Anthony Davis block party.

All of this and much more could return Thursday, when lawmakers come back to consider overriding any vetoes issued by Gov. Steve Beshear and possibly wrap up a few loose legislative ends. Since it's the last opportunity lawmakers will have to stab their political enemies and reward their campaign contributors until they meet again, ugliness is always a possibility on the final day of any session.

But any ugliness will go into hiding temporarily if a few tall young men who may soon rival the winners of the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot in terms of instant wealth should drop by for a visit. Then, it will be all about autographs (for the children and grandchildren, of course) and pictures. This is an election year, remember. And what better image to put in a campaign ad than one saying to voters: "Look, I hang with Coach Cal and the Cats."

If the 2012 NCAA champions don't visit, well, several lawmakers no doubt will try to establish their connection to the team by giving floor speeches praising coach and players effusively. The connections may be tenuous, but the praise is deserved. When have you ever seen that many McDonald's All-Americans check their egos at the scorer's table and become such unselfish teammates?

With that brief comment, the fan in me will now retire, allowing the curmudgeon to re-emerge.

One thing is certain on the final day of any General Assembly. Leaders of both houses as well as some of the rank and file will rise to wax eloquent about what a great job they and their fellow lawmakers did and how much they accomplished. Did I ever mention what an asset a vivid imagination can be for legislators? This year, it will be particularly helpful.

Word is the state auditor's office could issue the report on its audit of the Richie Farmer days at the Department of Agriculture as early as this week. Word also is it could be interesting reading.

Burning couches and turning cars upside down to celebrate championships qualifies people for inclusion in my White Trash Hall of Fame. The 'Cats have been here before. They will be again. Next time, fans need to act like they, too, have been here before by showing some of the class this year's team demonstrated throughout a terrific season.

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