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Legislature

05/01/08 5:55PM By Dennis Delaney
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(HOST) As the legislature works toward adjournment, former state representative and commentator Dennis Delaney reflects on some of the lesser-known aspects of a legislative session.

(DELANEY) Vermonters love to poke fun at the legislature. One friend at the local Rotary Club likes to refer to Montpelier when the legislature is there as Mount Peculiar.

Now is it mean-spirited to milk a chuckle out of the antics of our elected representatives? Not at all. A good belly laugh is healthy; and besides, politicians can get pompous. Humor can help bring them back to earth.

In some countries poking fun at the government will land you in the slammer. In Vermont it just means you're normal. But seriously, I have to say that all 180 men and women who serve under the golden dome are almost always the best our hills and valleys have to offer.

Oh, I know, every so often somebody you never thought would amount to anything gets elected. Somebody whose ancestors - when they were around a century or so ago - caused the neighbors to lock up the horses.

But it seems that raising your hand and taking the oath on that first January Wednesday after the first Monday following the election... morphs a lot of folks into their better selves. Try it and see.

What I've said so far is from a front row seat. It was my great privilege to be sent to the legislature several times by my friends and neighbors. In my lifetime, no group I was ever a part of - not a school, club, team, or even a church - had such a concentration of principled decent people as what we know as the legislature.

Their only glaring fault, I think, is that they are prone to stay there too long and then send us the bill for their long-windedness.

But to get back to legislative funny business, those who serve under the golden dome also have a sense of humor.

Here's a favorite anecdote of mine.

It was my good luck to serve in the senate with former governor Phil Hoff - and he loved a good joke.

One day there was a floor debate in the senate about an agricultural issue. The lights were on, the cameras were rolling, and senators were passing notes around. They like to do that during a floor debate. Sort of like school.

At one point a page brought me a note with a message: Dennis. The cameras are on you. Arise and denounce those greedy farmers.

I looked up and there was Hoff grinning at me like the Cheshire cat.

And no, I did not arise and denounce.
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