Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

A state with no one in the driver's seat

Ned Cantwell

Few New Mexicans are aware of the crisis this state faced just last week during the Republican National Convention.

We were a state adrift at sea, a state with no firm grasp on the tiller, a state with no one in the driver’s seat, a state suffering from any number of similar clichés.

Bill Richardson, Gov. Bill Richardson, Big Bill, The Bill, was in a funk. Big time. He was swearing off the stuff, cold turkey.

According to an anonymous source close to the governor’s office, The Bill was holed up in a closet off the main hall of the governor’s mansion where Barbara stores his press clippings. He had nothing but his wits and a box of Snickers bars.

Billy Sparks, the governor’s press guy, paced outside in distress. What was he to tell the world about this? His boss was undergoing the fight of his life, and from time to time Billy winced when he heard a sigh of anguish from Big Bill.

What was going on here? Cold turkey from a secret smoking habit, by chance? Could this be a Rush Limbaugh deal? Was our governor carrying on normal all these years while swallowing painkillers by the keg?

No, none of that. It was withdrawal for sure, a direct result of this shocking news release from the governor’s press lady, Marsha Catron:

“SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson today announced he would not accept any national media requests during the Republican National convention and that he would honor the convention period by not criticizing the Bush Administration during the four days the Republicans are gathered in New York.”

Fellow New Mexican, say what you will about our governor, but this had to be cold-sweat time for our leader.

Billy Sparks kept vigil, the strain clearly evident on his face. Nearby, in another room, a CNN newscast was blaring and Billy feared the sound of Wolf Blitzer’s voice might filter into that closet and send the governor over the edge.

The Richardson watch continued. Everyone close to him knew that Bill needed only to exit the closet and pick up the telephone to gain access to Bill O’Reilly, or Lou Dobbs, or Tom Brokaw. Could he resist?

Aides exchanged nervous and worried glances. They knew it had been days since their boss had been interviewed by The New York Times. They were not sure how long the governor could withstand the strain.

“That was quite a story, that last one,” mused one of the governor’s people. She reflected on the latest Times story by Rick Lyman with this gushy lead:

“SANTA FE, N.M. — When Gov. Bill Richardson strode into the cabinet room at the heart of the circular State Capitol here recently, he towered over the coterie of officials fluttering around him like gulls following a ship into port.”

Suddenly, from inside the closet, movement. The door slowly opened. The governor appeared, looking haggard, traces of chocolate on his chin, but otherwise unharmed.

“I am here today to appoint a Media Addiction Czar,” the governor announced. The aides cheered and high-fived. All was well in the Land of Enchantment.

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. He has never been interviewed by Lou Dobbs. Contact him (Cantwell) at:

[email protected]

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