Dave Simpson: Bumpgate — A Case of Weak Sauce

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "Surveillance video of that bumping incident in February between two Wyoming state senators, both Republicans, is downright underwhelming. It's clearly no Zapruder film."

Dave Simpson

March 08, 20224 min read

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Surveillance video of that bumping incident in February between two Wyoming state senators, both Republicans, is downright underwhelming.

It’s clearly no Zapruder film.

As unfortunate state GOP episodes go – like that physical altercation in Gillette, and a guy from Park County asking a senator from Laramie County to please go kill herself, and the profane appraisal of one Republican House member by another, caught on an open mic –  Bumpgate is the smallest of small potatoes.

Weak sauce.

Thin gruel.

All hat, no cattle.

It looked like guys in suits getting ready to square dance.

A waste of perfectly good surveillance video.

I saw the story about the bump last week, and the heartfelt apology the next day by the bumper to the bumpee. (The bumper blamed it on a bum leg.) And it brought to mind the final evening of a legislative session long ago, when a longtime Natrona County state senator almost brained me with a watermelon-flavored piece of Jolly Rancher candy.

As I recall, it was deflected off my arm as I sat at the press table. Startled, I looked up to see the senator lamenting his poor aim. And laughing.

Things got a little frisky on the final night of sessions back then, when in the back rooms legislative leaders were finalizing bills and everyone else was just waiting around for the session to end. (One year they ran out of time and went past midnight, but the governor refused to sign everything they passed after the 12 o’clock session deadline, and made everyone come back for a two-day special session. They sent the Highway Patrol out to turn around lawmakers who were already on their way home.)

Back then, a House member from Hot Springs County – Stan Smith – brought his fiddle along on the final night to entertain the crowd. Everyone just wanted the session to be over so they could go home.

There were jokes. A senator asked the president of the Senate, “What about the prostitution bill?” And he replied, “Well, PAY IT!’ That got a laugh. Everyone was kind of ringy.

I watched the surveillance video of the bump episode, and I have to conclude that getting hit with a Jolly Rancher was more violent than three or four guys in suits waltzing around a couple desks at the front of the Senate. I unwrapped the Jolly Rancher and ate it. No heartfelt apology needed. And the candy was tasty.

They apparently take things more personally these days at the Legislature. A lot of them don’t seem to like each other, so we get formal apologies over guys bumping into each other.

I would have watched the video a couple more times, but the next video was about two elk at Yellowstone, and it wouldn’t let me go back to the bumper-car senators. The Yellowstone elk were more interesting anyway.

Every now and then we see stories in the media about a lack of civility in the state Republican Party. It warms your heart to see people who have probably never voted Republican clutching their pearls in worry about the state of conservatism in Wyoming. It’s almost as heartwarming as the miraculous conversion of Democrats who hated Dick Cheney and his daughter with a special kind of vitriol for years, now vowing to vote for Liz.

Because they found someone they hate even more in Donald Trump.

Kind of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

The Republicans, meanwhile, are at odds over who really is a Republican, and who is a Republican in Name Only (RINO). For me, that’s an easy one. If you’re a Republican who wants to take free, borrowed money from the federal government to expand Medicaid, with all the myriad federal strings attached, well, you’re a RINO.

RINOs trust big government, and have no problem spending money borrowed in the name of us, our kids, and now our grand kids. All while we’ve built up $30 TRILLION in federal debt, and there’s no sign of the spendthrifts slowing down.

I say the people who vote against expansion are the true Republicans, and they tend to get my vote.

Meanwhile, Bumpgate is a real disappointment for the pearl clutchers.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.