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Column: The Tale of Rudy the Pig

A good politician's nose can smell which way the wind is blowing faster than a barn-high weathervane in a hurricane.

Just like a hog, a politician is inclined to stick his over-developed smeller into places where their owners--that would be us because we elected him and we pay him-- don't think it belongs. Then, they use that same above-average sense of smell to get themselves far away from the stink before it sticks to them and blame is assigned for the mess they left behind.

We once adopted a baby pig. We named him Rudy, because that was back when Rudy Perpich was the governor of our state, and even when he was little (the pig), I sensed a lot of similarity in behavior. He always wanted more.

Rudy the Pig grew a bit and delighted in burrowing around the base of my many apple trees, where the rich watered soil was moist and soft. These places were, he discovered, good places to stir up bugs, grubs, and worms--all high on his dinner menu. It must have seemed to him that these places were specifically placed there for his delight and amusement. And, one might add, for the dozen or so tame ducks who considered Rudy to be their own private earth-moving contractor. They followed him everywhere, hoping he might miss a worm or two.

As Rudy got stronger, so did his rooting ability, and occasionally he strayed out into the grass sod of the lawn, which was easy for him to do. With his hind quarters levered up in the air and his front buried to his shoulders in the holes he dug, he resembled some kind of pork submarine in action. He got so involved in rooting up that next tasty grub that it was several minutes before he lifted his head and found himself in the middle of the yard. No grubs there. Just me, scolding him.

At that point, he looked around rather near-sightedly, puzzled as to how he got there, climbed up out of his trench, and went back to another apple tree to start all over again. You just can't keep this instinct down.

You can imagine how fond I was of having a living bulldozer running amuck in the yard, and eventually, I had to pen him up.

Politicians tend to behave in a similar manner. They root away at the base of public problems until, like a pig, they lose sight of the exact reason they were rooting there in the first place.

But, as any pig worth his rooter knows, that's no darned reason to stop rooting.

You can imagine how fond of this we voters are. That's how we get chopstick factories, tanks that are too heavy to run, airplanes that are too heavy to fly, big-bank bail-outs, and sightseeing tours to the Persian deserts for members of the armed forces.

Of course, just as those ducks followed Rudy, people follow politicians so they can pick up the tasty things that he leaves behind him, things he doesn't always see because, him being in the rooting position and all, he's lost sight of where he is. Like the ducks that followed Rudy around, folks follow politicians in much the same way. The longer he's around, the more "ducks" there are and the fatter they get, too.

The nice feature of being a politician seems to me to be that you don't need your own apple orchard in which to grub around; you just find some other elected official with his or her own orchard. You wait until they need help with a vote, and then you can go over there and root around in their fresh new dirt for a while.

Rudy got so big and powerful that he thought he could root anywhere. It didn't happen all at once, was the problem. He kind of snuck up on his size. I was busy and couldn't pay attention to him all the time. I had orchards to plant, sort of, and was distracted a good bit of the time.

That happens to elected officials too, when we're not paying attention. The next thing you know, they've gotten so used to being powerful that they think they can root anywhere; that the whole orchard is their kingdom. That becomes apparent when they're not only hogging the ground in which the tree grows, but thinking that the fruit up there in the tree belongs to them, too. All mine, I'm sure Rudy thought. Mine mine mine.

Rudy had badly torn up my yard before I woke up and penned him up.

Either we're going to have to learn how to train and control our pigs better, or get rid of them sooner.