Thursday, February 15, 2007


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
February 15, 2007

There’s a bill moving through the Legislature — House Bill 406, sponsored by House Republican Whip Dan Foley of Roswell — that would give The University of New Mexico $8 million to broadcast legislative sessions.

It’s not exactly a radical idea. Forty other states have live Web-casting of their legislatures while 27 states televise their legislatures on public television.

But it’ll take more than $8 million to get people to actually watch our lawmakers in action. The Legislature is going to have to be jazzed up a little with good production values. And that includes music.

I propose each issue facing the Legislature should have its own theme music.

Some are obvious. For instance, anytime there’s any bill relating in any way to the proposed spaceport, the proper theme song would be the original television Star Trek theme. And whenever the House or Senate faces a smoking-ban bill and other tobacco legislation, they’d play “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette” by Tex Williams.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an entire column about death-penalty songs. (Steve Earle’s “Ellis Unit One” and Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” led that list.) Similarly there’s a plethora of railroad tunes for any bill having to do with the Rail Runner. (“Daddy What’s a Train?” by Utah Phillips would be my nomination.)

Here are some other suggestions:

Cockfighting: “Gallo de Cielo” by Joe Ely (written by Tom Russell). If cockfighting is really so bad, how could such a great song come out of it? This is the ballad of a young Mexican named Carlos Zaragoza who steals a champion fighting rooster and goes to the U.S. seeking his fortune by gambling on that gallo. I’ve heard the song probably 500 times, but I still listen intently as Gallo de Cielo fights his last battle against a black rooster named Zorro.

Defense of Marriage: “The Ceremony” by George Jones & Tammy Wynette. This was a slow, solemn and not intentionally funny number, complete with someone playing a minister conducting a wedding ceremony for George and Tammy as they pledge their eternal one-man/one-woman love. Cynics and wise guys, of course, might point out that both Jones and Wynette were married multiple times.

Minimum Wage: “Minimum Wage” by The BusBoys. This New Wave band was briefly popular in the early ’80s. The song is from the perspective of someone who works for minimum wage.

Film industry bills: “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks. This song observes, “Everybody’s a dreamer, everybody’s a star/Everybody’s in show biz, no matter who you are.” And it has some wise advice for would-be stars, which would include politicians: “You who are successful, be always on your guard/Success walks hand and hand with failure/Along Hollywood Boulevard.”

Conference Committees: What else but the late Charlie Rich’s big crossover song, “Behind Closed Doors.”

Of course, individuals could have their own theme music. Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, beat me to the punch earlier this year when he played the Tone Loc classic “Funky Cold Medina” in honor of his fellow Republican, Sen. Steve Komadina of Corrales.

A natural theme for Gov. Bill Richardson would be Jean Knight’s old soul hit “Mr. Big Stuff.” House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambé, could be introduced by The Everly Brothers’ “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine.” Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, has a ready-made theme song in “Mimi” by French crooner Maurice Chevalier.

Got any more? E-mail me at

The Western candidate: Richardson, in national interviews about his presidential candidacy, has made a point of identifying himself as a Western governor with “Western values.” The West, as he’s noted, is fertile ground for the Democratic Party to grow.

But the latest polls from the New Hampshire-based American Research Group shows that Democrats in Western states have yet to embrace Richardson as a favorite son.

According to the polls released Wednesday, Richardson is doing best in Arizona, where he has the support of 4 percent of Democrats. In Utah, he’s at 1 percent while in Oklahoma, which is sort of like a Western state, he has 2 percent.

Alabama is not a Western state, but Richardson polled at 1 percent there, according to ARG.

Each of the polls were based on telephone interviews with 600 likely voters between Feb. 8 and 13. The margin of error is 4 percent.

So you want to influence the Legislature: A coalition of three advocacy groups Friday will be training citizens on how to deal with the Legislature. The groups are the Family Justice Campaign (a project of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that includes several labor and advocacy groups), the New Mexico Human Needs Coordinating Council and Student Social Work Advocates.

Some of the groups will be conducting training sessions at First Christian Church and St. John’s United Methodist Church. There’s a scheduled rally on the east side of the Capitol at 11 p.m. Friday followed by a news conference at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call Julie Roberts at 983-3277.

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