Wednesday, August 30, 2006

COLUMN -- Where they'd stand on Planet Woebegone

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:53 AM |  

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

After much debate, a coalition of astronomers impeached Pluto of planetary status, sentencing it to the category "dwarf planet." In an election year, it seems all things under, or orbiting, the sun are political fodder. These comments from local politicos would not come as a surprise.

GOP Chair Ron Carey called action taken against Pluto "the most galactic example of malfeasance during Mike Hatch's tenure as attorney general." Informed Hatch had no part in the decision, Carey referred reporters to the GOP's 137th new Web site, "Mike Hatch Spaced Out."

Attorney General and DFL gubernatorial candidate Hatch responded that he had made only one call to Pluto, it lasted only a couple of minutes, and he only requested that the pod door be opened — a request that was denied. Hatch also noted that he thinks astronomers make way too much money; he promised to investigate.

Hatch's DFL primary challenger Becky Lourey saw in Pluto's demotion yet another example of discrimination against the "little guy." She proposed universal health care for Plutonians regardless of their immigration status.

Peter Hutchinson, Independence Party candidate for governor, amended his five G's of political distraction to six — "guns, gays, God, gambling, gynecology and galaxies." He then called Plutonians bad drivers, said they are fat and asked for their votes in November.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty insisted that calling Pluto a "dwarf planet" instead of a "planet" is necessary to avoid astronomical gridlock. He then mandated that the Department of Education immediately change the state standard definition of Pluto from "Mickey's best friend." Education Commissioner Alice Seagren requested a delay until Nov. 15, saying "Ah, governor, we canna' defy the laws of inertia."

Pawlenty's primary challenger Sue Jeffers said Pawlenty calling a "planet" a "dwarf planet" was balancing the Solar System using semantic tricks; it taxed credibility and therefore violated the governor's "no new taxes" pledge. Hoping for a meteoric rise in the polls, Jeffers declared she opposes publicly funded stadiums on Pluto and any attempt to make Pluto smoke-free.

DFL Chair Brian Melendez demanded (to no one in particular) that the designation "dwarf planet" be changed to "orbitally challenged." He blasted the Bush administration for not doing enough to correct Pluto's orbit while it promoted the interests of "Big Planets" on the backs of planets without color.

Michele Bachmann, 6th District congressional candidate, was prompted by the controversy to revise her state constitutional amendment to define marriage as one Earth man and one Earth woman. "We must defend terrestrial marriage," she said.

Bachmann's opponent, DFLer Patty Wetterling, said, as she has many times, she is not a politician and she is not an astronomer, and although she doesn't know much about the Pluto issue, she cares about people. "I am the first candidate to call for bringing American troops on Pluto home by Thanksgiving," she said.

In the Senate race, Republican Mark Kennedy pointed out that, unlike President Bush, he favored demoting Pluto, and he would vote "no" on drilling in any environmentally sensitive areas of the dwarf planet. He also assured farmers that he favored restrictive tariffs on energy imports from Pluto that might be less expensive, yield more energy and be more environmentally friendly than Minnesota corn-based ethanol. He promised to bring Minnesota values to the galaxy.

DFL Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar wrote on her Web site that when she was growing up, she would get on her bike, ride down Oakview Lane, take a left at County Road 6, navigate several hills and, within a few short miles, there she was — gazing up at Pluto. When she talks to Plutonians today, they tell her it's time for a change in Washington. Noting that it would take 690 years and one month to travel to Pluto at jet aircraft speeds, Klobuchar said she would fight to ensure that returning travelers could count on social security.

As for your humble hobby columnist — well, as long as there are no government regulations on Pluto that prohibit obese, same-sex couples from getting married, smoking in bars and restaurants, packing a firearm and driving an SUV running on ethanol-free fuel to drop their children off at the school of their choice, hey, how bad a world can it be?