Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s moment in the C-SPAN limelight last week during Al Gore’s save-the-earth testimony showed she hasn’t lost her Lake Wobegon roots. I’ve been hoping she wouldn’t succumb to the oleaginous conventions of the senate and adopt the language where senators glaze one another in sweetness before they ask to borrow a pen.
Klobuchar, because she’s been in the senate 20 minutes and was at the bottom of the seniority list, got to address His Almostness right after the senior Republican, James Inhofe, the senator from Teapot Dome. Inhofe had badgered, bullied and mocked Gore mercilessly, gracelessy and quite amusingly, denying not just global warming but globe. (Keith Olbermann called him “the man who put fossil in fossil fuel.”)
So along comes Sen. Amy, smiling her aw-shucks smile and saying she’s from the state that gave the world Post-its and Pacemakers, and we believe in science. She wasn’t impolite enough to call Inhofe a Luddite, which a colleague took care of later, but she made her point. Then she did a Lee Greenwood circuit of the state, Proud to be a Minnesotan, telling about people from lakeshore to shining cornfield who are worried about global warming, including the little girl who came up to Amy and said she was worried about the penguins. (“Tell me about the rabbits, George.”) Then she asked a couple of practical questions that weren’t speeches, such as “where do we start, what do we do first?” and her time was done.
Not long after, the contrast was made clear when Sen. John Warner, who’s served Virginia in the senate since just before Appomattox, bowed and scraped to the once-and-future Gore and Gore returned the favor by digging through the floor so he could bow even lower back to His White Hairness. Gore said Warner was such an astute student of history that he would get Gore’s pop reference to the current movie The 300. Gore touched his forelock to Warner for saving the world from Hitler, making it clear Warner had one more chance to save the planet now.
My mentor Dennis McGrath used to call this “pouring gold in each other’s shoes.” We’d say nice things about one another’s judgment, experience and hairstyles in front of clients or at conferences. But at least we had a little wry smile on when the other guy was pouring. Warner was lapping it up like a puppy.
So if Klobuchar sounded a little too much like those folks from Kansas who, at national political conventions, yell out stuff like “The Great State of Kansas, which brought you sunflowers and sunshine and wonderful straight roads and…”, at least she didn’t sound fake. She’s still Amy Klobuchar. I worked with her dad at the old Minneapolis Star, and Jim never forgot where he came from. So there’s hope for Amy. Hang in there. Keep speaking English, woman. Resist that courtier’s claptrap.