Lockhart Aims Barbs at Herbert

Perhaps it is a generational thing, or just the unique personalities of our day, but it seems to me that there are a number of Utah legislators who really like each other – Republicans and Democrats.

Last night was the second annual comedy fest for Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who served in the state Senate before winning the mayorship two years ago.

Now, 2014 is NOT an election year for McAdams. So we’ll see if he gets the same number of GOP, conservative big shots at his 2016 comedy fest fundraiser.

But at least for this year the Republican/conservative turnout was impressive – House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo; House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper; and the conservative queen herself, Gayle Ruzicka, all took turns entertaining the crowd of several hundred.

You couldn’t swing a dead cat over your head without hitting some of Utah’s best-known lobbyists, Democrats, and even more than a few Republicans.

(How many Republicans were actually drinking wine and beer is unknown, it was pretty dark in the Rail Special Event Center.)

There is an old adage in newspapering: Never try to write a joke in your publication. Seeing a comedian – or someone acting for a night as a comedian – is always funnier in person than trying to write about it.

First off, no matter how obvious a joke may be, some reader is not going to get it and believe you are telling the “truth,” and so is offended.

But, here goes:

Lockhart really did a fine job, I believe.

While she may not appear so in the media, she has a quick sense of humor. Now, no doubt she got help (maybe a lot of help) in writing her jokes for Thursday night.

Still, well, you decide for yourself:

Lockhart said she is proud of her three real children, listing their achievements. But not so much of her fourth – that little, bad behaved three-year-old, HB477.

No matter what kind of diapers she tried on baby HB477, the kid just got poop over everything – all over her House, even the Senate and the governor.

“Even after three-and-a-half years, the stink won’t go away,” she said.

“We’ve done our best to correct him, but no matter how well our other three children do, all anyone can talk about is HB477. I hope they will stop talking about him by 2016.

“After all, when you look for a new job, they are bound to ask about your family.”

Lockhart lamented what is happening in the Utah media these days.

“I’m not sure what the media is anymore.

“We still have an abundance of outlets, but no one is actually working for them.”

In the state’s two main dailies, advertising revenue is down 73 percent over the last five years, she said.

“Republicans, you can clap if you want to.”

To save themselves, the two dailies have taken very different directions, Lockhart explained.

“One has become a pious, holier-than-thou product, catering to the narrow target audience who are trying to save this state from those who would destroy everything good and right.”

“And the other is the Deseret News.”

She said she thought she had done things the Tribune would like: She voted for all the clean air bills, she voted to remove the Zion Curtain, she voted to launch a task force on women in the workplace. She even started the investigation of the attorney general of her own party.

“But Pat Bagley still can’t get my hair right.”

Lockhart, of course, is retiring this year and will be looking to 2016 for a run for governor – maybe challenging GOP Gov. Gary Herbert.

She said she agreed to appear at Democrat McAdams’ fund raiser on one condition, part of the proceeds had to go to a Republican cause of her choice.

What better Republican cause could there be than a political long shot, out of Utah’s mainstream, a campaigner who most folks will not support anymore: “So I’m proud to accept this check from Ben addressed to the Gary Herbert 2016 campaign.”

She said that McAdams had asked her if she wanted to use a teleprompter Thursday night. “I said only governors use teleprompters. Ask me in 2016.”

Actually, said Lockhart, she has known Herbert for 20 years, and believes him to be a good man.

“If you think I will take pot shots at a GOP governor who is more of a RINO, who wants to expand socialistic medicine, hates the 2nd Amendment, and is in favor of crony capitalism, well, Utah is more civil than that.”

It was all in good fun.

But there were a few barbs, also, just to let Utah’s political elite in attendance know that politics is a game best played with the gloves off.