Rep Steve Vaillancourt


This Week's Trivia--"Thank You Don Pardo"

Don Pardo, what a great life

While Don Pardo, who died last week at age 96, will most likely be remembered for his 38 years as the announcer for "Saturday Night Live", I'll always remember him as the announcer for the original Jeopardy TV series, 1964-1975.   Back then, the contestants would actually walk into the studio as Don intoned, "Now entering the studio are today's contestants."

I'll never forget it.

Each introduction concluded with the announcement of "your host, the star of Jeopardy".  And truly a star he was.  Jeopardy has always been my favorite TV show (I must have been watching for that first month back in March, 1964), but truth be told, I've never been an Alex Trebek fan.

However, oh how I loved the man Don Pardo introduced those 11 years.  

That "star of Jeopardy" used to enter every day with the words, "Thank you Don Pardo; thank you friends". He also delivered a particularly crisp, "The answer is..." as the clue was revealed.  For final jeopardy, there was none of that electronic gadgetry of today.  The host would actually walk over and hold up each board on whch the three contestants had written an answer (or question, of course).

Who was this first (and in my opinion best by far) host of Jeopardy, the man Don Pardo introduced for 11 years?  

Was that?

Art Fleming

Wink Martindale

Bill Cullen

Jack Barry

Tom Kennedy


"The answer is Art Fleming"; he lived only to age 70 (he died in 1995).  By the way, his entire name was Arthur Fleming Fazzin (of Polish heritage).

For a clip, I've chosen the final show (their 2753rd one together) in which the camera pans to Don Pardo for the final introduction of the great Art Fleming.  Alas, by then, they'd given up the drama of the contestants "entering the studio".

Bill Cullen was the original Price Is Right host; Wink Martindale Name That Tune; Jack Barry The Joker Is Wild (among other things); and Tom Kennedy a show called You Don't Say which I used to watch just as I got home from high school every day; it aired at 3:30 on NBC.  As I recall, the Pardo/Fleming version of Jeopardy aired around noon time, not so good for school kids.






Settling For Less--Great For Zevon, But Not Primary Voters

 from Genius: Best of Warren Zevon

"Looking for the Next Best Thing" is track #13 on the album Genius: Best of Warren Zevon. It was written by Zevon, Warren/edwards, Kenny/marinell, Leroy


I worked hard, but not for the money
I did my best to please
I used to think it was funny
'Til I realized it was all a tease

Don Quixote had his windmills
Ponce De Leon took his cruise
Took Sinbad seven voyages
To see that it was all a ruse

That's why I'm looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best but I'm settling for less
So I'm looking for the next best thing

Looking for the next best thing

All alone on the road to perfection
At the inspection booth they tried to discourage me
You can believe what you want that'll never change it
Well you'll have to come around eventually

And you'll be looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best, I'm settling for less
I'm looking for the next best thing

Well looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
Yes I'm looking
And I'm looking for the next best thing
I'm looking for the next best thing



Read more: Warren Zevon - Looking For The Next Best Thing Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Jim Rubens For U.S. Senate--"Why Not The Best?"

After reading today's Union Leader endorsement of Scott Brown for U.S. Senate, it's clear that I like Scott Brown more than whoever wrote the editorial.  That's the good news for Scott Brown.  The bad news is that after much deliberation, I've decided to vote for Jim Rubens in the Sept. 9 primary.

Talk about damning with faint praise; that's what the Union Leader endorsement of Scott Brown did.  

For example, the editorial writer lists four of its reason for supporting Brown as:

--"his blue collar roots"

--"his many years of service to his country with the National Guard"

--"his work to put himself through law school" 

--"the fine family that he and his wife have raised"


Nothing about being kind to his pets?

Those are all good qualities; in fact they might be great qualifications...for someone running for...Rotary or Elks Club or Chamber of Commerce President.

But when it comes to qualifications for one of the 100 elite solons in our land, the line from the Peggy Lee standard comes to mind, "Is that all there is?"  Go ahead, have a listen; it's really quite beautiful, and I promise not to go away.

Peggy Lee:Is That All There Is? - YouTube

The Union Leader editorial put me in mind of cotton candy at Lake Dunmore.  As a little kid, I loved cotton candy; I'd get it at Lake Dunmore (near Middlebury, Vt) whenever my family went for a cookout (it was a dime back then).  However, even as a little kid, I realized that coton candy wasn't all that good for me, and that there are far better sources of nutrition.

While the Union Leader didn't come right out and say so, it implied that Scott Brown is indeed the cotton candy of this Republican primary field...lots of sugar, a little coloring, and lots of air all mixed together in a delicious swirl.

What's not to like about cotton candy?

If we're willing to lower our standards to that of cotton candy, Scott Brown will suffice, and he will win the primary.

However, is it too much to ask that in these troubled times, we raise the bar a bit?  Is it too much to ask that we shoot for the best?

There's a great line from a Warren Zevon song, "I appreciate the best, but I'm settling for less; I'm looking for the next best thing."

When it comes to primaries, not only do I appreciate the best, but I'm voting for the best; I for one refuse to settle for less; and Jim Rubens is clearly the best candidate in this field.

I know, I know there's a tendency to dumb down our politics these days; we often choose to vote for the guy we'd rather have a beer with.  I guess Scott Brown would win hands down if that were the qualification.

Cotton candy?  Beer?  Is that all there is?

I need to allude ever so briefly to a word which could get me in trouble.


Jim Rubens is by far the smartest candidate in the field, but not only is he intelligent, he also knows how to use that intelligence. He proved that when as a State Senator, he drove Democrat leader Peter Burling up the wall in committee of conferences.

Any Republican who can tie Peter Burling up in knots is all right by me. 

Not only is Jim Rubens the smartest person in the field, he's also the most dogged in fighting for a cause; out of state gambling interests have learned that time and again in the past few years.

Pardon me for asking and we certainly don't need all 100 of our United States Senators to be Mensa members, but is it too much to ask for one really smart senator?  Is it?    

Pardon me if I want my United Senator to be smarter than I am.

I don't consider myself stupid; after all, I've served 18 years in the New Hamshire House (on Finance, Ways and Means, and Criminal Justice among other committees).  I've fought and won the good fight for gay marriage, and I'm fighting and hope to ultimately win the good fight for marijuana law reforms (not to mention a reasonable interstate speed limit).

However, I always like to think there are others in the room smarter than I am.  

When I'm in a room with Jim Rubens, I know I'm not the smartest person in the room.

I don't always start out agreeing with him (although I certainly agree that the feds should leave marijuana laws up to the states), but I respect his intelligence enough to always listen to what he has to say.  The ability to convince people, after all, is undoubtedly the most important trait for any U.S. Senator.

If Scott Brown wins the primary (as I expect he will; hey, I'm not going to lie about it), I'll harken back to those days at Lake Dunmore and line up for the cotton candy (after all, it's better than Jeanne Shaheen's poison).

But until September 9, I'll keep saying over and over again, "Why not the best?"

"Why not Jim Rubens?"


8 Is The Really Big Number In The UNH U.S. Senate Poll

As the political world begins to catch its breath in the wake of last week's startling announcment from UNH pollster Andy Smith (for the WMUR Granite State Poll) that Scott Brown is within the margin of error of Jeanne Shaheen (46-44), three internal numbers stand out.

Don't concern yourself with women vs. men; as expected Shaheen enjoys about a 10 point advantage with women as does Brown with men.

Don't concern yourself with age disparity; it so happens that Shaheen leads with the youngest and oldest voters, but Scott Brown is ahead with the middle aged.

Whatever you do, don't waste your time looking at geographical divisions within the state.

The two "internals" we all need to focus on is party loyalty and undeclared voters.

Brown actually enjoys a 40-35 lead with undeclared voters.

So how can he be down to points overall, you may be asking.

Great question.

As with the last poll, Shaheen continues to overwhelm Brown with Democrats.  It's 90-6 (or a +84), and that's to be expected.  In other words, six percent of Democrats would vote for Brown.

Brown has begun to win back Republicans; he's up 84-8 (or a +76).  In other words, eight percent of Republicans would vote for Shaheeen.

A bit of simple subtraction (84-76=8) is all that's necessary to understand that Shaheen's narrow lead is based on her being more popular with Democrats than Brown is with Republicans. 

Plus eight is a big differnce in a race that's only a two point spread.

However, in a sense, this should come as good news for Brown and Republicans because clearly if he manges to narrow that eight pont margin after the primary--to simply cut it in half for example--all other things being equal, then we'll be looking at former Senator Jeanne Shaheen being ready to shuffle on back to Missouri or to the Kennedy School come January.

How likely are Republicans to rally around Brown after the primary?

In a word--VERY.

Most Republicans are so anti-Shaheen (remember her vote brought us Obamacare not to menion a slew of other Big Brother measures) that they will have no trouble switching from either Bob Smith or Jim Rubens come September 10.

Take me for example.  After a long deliberative process, I've decided to vote for Jim Rubens in the primary (reasoning to come later), but I will have absolutely no trouble moving to Scott Brown should he prevail on Sept. 9.  I know of only one Republican, a former State Rep (no names please) who plans to vote for Rubens in the primary and then for "Jeannie" in the general.

Brown will never get all Republicans just as Shaheen will never get all Democrats, but when you see any future polls, look first and foremost for the X number, X meaning the subtraction of Brown's huge lead among Republicans from Shaheen's huge lead among Democrats.

Right now X is 8.  84-76=8.

If that number gets close to zero, it could very well be bye, bye Jeannie.  Since Republican turnout should be three to five points higher than Democrats come November, Brown actually doesn't need to get X all the way to zero.

If I know that (and now you know that), you can be sure that Democrats (and Shaheen) know that, and that's why--if they're honest--they'll admit to being worried, very, very worried. 

No amount of attacking the messenger--the pollster--from Shahenn's fellow travelers in the media (such as those at Daily Kos) can alleviate what is a real and growing sense of fear, day I say panic, these days...nor should it be.


The Reading Room--"Advise And Consent" Revisited

And now for something completely different.

In the mid-1950s, about the same time the Russians were supposedly pulling ahead of us in the space race with the launching of Sputnik (beep, beep), Allen Drury was writing the first of a classic series on life inside Washington D.C.   From President to Senators, a Supreme Court Justice, ambassadors, journalists and department heads, he created an entire cast of fictional characters for Advise and Consent, published in 1959 (it was made into a movie directed by Otto Preminger in 1962).

Fast forward to 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in American history.  I was a senior in high school, and by the time Nixon and Agnew were elected, I had waded through the book (650 pages) and did a book report on it.  I went on to read the rest of the series, A Shade of Difference, Preserve and Protect, und so weiter.

Fast forward to a month ago.  The very same day I read in Pat Buchanan's new book The Greatest Comeback about how Nixon was advising him to read Preserve and Protect--this would have been circa 1967--I happened to be searching through my basement for an old high school yearbook which I found along with an entire box full of high school papers.  You guessed it, the book report was at the very top of the box.  Don't ask me why (maybe I was afraid to discover how bad a writer I was back then), but rather than read the book report, I decided to reread the entire book, and even more than half a century after its initial publication, it remains a classic.

A few things have changed on the D.C. scene.  For example, in the book, the nominee for Secretary of State is constantly smoking during his confirmation hearings; Senators seemed to work longer hours back then, and most importantly, one particular plot devise simply doesn't stand the test of time.  Drury needs to find a character flaw in one of his senators, something so bad that the senator could be bribed to prevent it from being revealed.  As it turns out, the character had spent a couple weeks with another man on the beaches of Hawaii during the war; he went on to marry, have a daughter and get elected from the great state of Utah, but apparently that "gay" fling remained part of his life.  Rather than allow the story to come to the public, the senator kills himself.  That one thing about Advise and Consent certainly doesn't stand the test of time; it actually illustrates just  how far society has come on the gay front since the mid-50s, but everything else about the book rings true.  Note that the gay relationship was so far from my mind that I apparently thought the fling was with a woman--talk about an oblivious high school senior.

However, the completely different thing is that I plan to type out the five-page hand written book report from 1968 (ah yes, back in the days when my hand writing was legible).  I received an A [very good report] from Mrs. Orr (who died tragically a few years later), but in retrospect I am convinced I'd be a better writer today had she pointed out some of the stylistic writing flaws and knocked me down a peg.  For example, use of the verb "did" is to be resisted.  I also describe the devise know as foreshadowing but never put a name to it--we live and learn; she could have noted what I was describing.

At the end of the book report, where I was talking about public service, Mrs. Orr writes, in her red pen, [Are you interested?]

Little did we both know at the time.

Here's the complete book report (unedited in any way even though I'd like very much to edit it), apparently number four for the year of English 12-C period 2 in Vergennes, Vermont [with Mrs. Orr's comments in brackets].

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury 

Allen Drury has been a newspaper man covering the bustling Washington scene for the past 15 years.  The native Texan and Stanford University graduate won acclaim for his editorials at [in] a small paper in California.  He also did a regular syndicated column for a while.  He is co-chairman of a committee which supervises work in Congressional press galleries.  His long tenure of Senate observance qualifies him in such an epic undertaking as Advise and Consent.  The book, which is over six hundred page long, is the first volume in a projected series of his dealing with the forces that shape the men who shape the issues of today's frantic world.

[Are they motivated by forces different than those that influence you and me?]

The general plot of this novel is rather loose.  A president whose name is never revealed has another year to serve.  His party controls the Senate, so he never anticipates any problems when he nominates Robert A. Leffingwell to be Secretary of State.  From this point, things begin to happen which add layer upon layer to the seemingly simple plot.  The nomination goes to a committee hearing where a thorough investigation takes place.  The senior senator from South Carolina, Seabright B. Cooley, is the senator who has most seniority and he had an old grudge against Leffingwell.  (The nominee had lied to him about ten years previously and in Washington, such things aren't forgotten).  [especially by a southern gentleman]

Determined to save the country from the liberal and overly pacifistic ideas of Robert A., Seab decides that one of this last great deeds in the Senate will be to bottle up the nomination.  Although everyone believes Seab's reasons are personal, when he digs up scandalous information on the nominee and attempt to use it, he is acting like everyone else--for the good of their country.  Everyone has a different view of what will benefit the country for Washington is a town of individuals.  The amazing thing gained from this book is that those who'd love to see Leffingwell in adn those who'd be repulsed by the thought can all profess and sincerely so to be acting for the good of the United States of America.

Washington is a city of people, unlike New York, as this book indicates.  The high policy that emerges from this focal point seems of minor importance when put up against the men who mold the policy.  The social life is one of parties and intricate games where you try to find out as much as you want without giving out too much of what you know.  Yes, under all this, you can sense that people really do care about their acquaintances.  The gruff and stern old Seab, with exterior showing a touch of senility and hardened form, had great hopes and longings for some of the younger men he finds in the ranks.  He recalls his days of youth 50 years ago. There's a secret hidden in that old mind, one that he'd never reveal to anyone.  He was in love once, until his brashness ended it all.  From that point, he picked up the pieces and went on, yet one piece was missing.

Another man with a secret was the brilliant young senator from Utah.  He was in charge of the subcommittee hearing the Leffingwell case.  Brigham Anderson was married and had a young daughter he cherished.  He didn't truly love his wife yet that would come, and for now, their relationship proved profitable although tension at home had been mounting.  Brig was a man loyal to responsibility, highly dedicated to his sense of right, to his country, and an introverted individual.  When faced with big decisions, he'd iron them out himself, act upon them, and then let others know.  It was this way when Seab forced a man who'd been in a Communist conspiracy ring with Leffingwell to phone Brigham.

[Was he or was he not a former Communist?]

Wise old Seab knew that if he acted upon the man, people wouldn't listen, but Brigham was respected.  Leffingwell had previously denied this cahrge.  To the young senator from Utah, this want' the man the country needed to be Secretary of State in such a time of crisis.  (Russia was almost on the moon and would need dealing with).  It wasn't that Robert A. had been in this unimportant Communist cell because he had faithfully served his country since.  What mattered was that Leffingwell had lied to a Senate committee.

Brigham chose to reopen the hearings, but this never came about.  As in other places throughout this book, Drury inserts a clue so as to bring on a feeling of doom.  He says that this would soon be Brigham's last act.  It it.  The President tries to bribe Brig not to open the hearings.  He still wants Leffingwell!  Brig isn't bribable.  Then, the chief executive discovers a chink in Brigham's armor, one weekend with a girl while on leave in World War II.

He deceives Brigham into believing he'll drop the nomination as we observe the great power of a President and the evil forces that invade him.  His great pride and the horror he feels as someone defies him is evident.  He puts a terribly young and impulsive senator from Wyoming to work to destroy Brig.  Freddie van Ackerman was his name, and he fulfilled his mission.  He drove Brig to the point of suicide.

After this, things happen rapidly with events taking more importance, but there are still some lessons to be leaned.  The President who had suffered from an illness was so upset by what his honor forced him to do that he died.  Freddie was censured by the Senate.  The nomination was defeated with Orrin Knox leading the way.  Before his death, the President had offered to make Orrin President if he wouldn't stand against him and reveal Brigham's motives.  In a bitter struggle of mind, Orrin, the judicious man from Illinois who had tried and been beaten at conventions before, decides that ne may never attain his goal, but he won't sell out his dear Brigham or his honor.

Harley Hudson, the Vice President, reminds me very much of Spiro Agnew.  He was handed the post because no one else fit.  All aided him through his Vice Presidency, and everyone suspect he'd be very inept if forced to the top.  As it turns out, he is a very adequate man.  His simple goodness prevails and he tackles the problems of negotiating with boastful Russians on the moon.  As I see it, Ted Agnew could be just such a man.  When a great leader is needed, the people will (and did) unite together to carry him on.

[Interesting comparison--I hope you're right]

Advise and Consent is indeed a fascinating and revealing book.  There is a scene in the first part in which a politician is spending a few precious moments with his family.  He admits that there are sacrifices to his demanding job, but as long as the people back home will have him, he'll be there.  What an amazing profession!

[Are you interested?]

  1. Advise & Consent is a 1962 American motion picture based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Allen Drury, published in 1959. The movie was adapted for the screen by Wende… More Wikipedia
  2. Henry Fonda (Robert Leffingwell)
    Henry Fonda
    Robert Leffingwell
    Charles Laughton (Senator Seabright Cooley)
    Charles Laughton
    Senator Seabright Cooley
    Gene Tierney (Dolly Harrison)
    Gene Tierney
    Dolly Harrison
    Walter Pidgeon (Senate Majority Leader)
    Walter Pidgeon
    Senate Majority Leader