Kurt Zellers: Last of the Grown-Ups*.

No publication is as attune to the zeitgeist of our times as The Onion. We can agree on that. Considering the quality of the characters “leading” discussions of “big” and “important” issues like finance, war and mortality there’s really no reason to muddle your thinking with blah, blah, blah “fact-y” grey bilge from The Economist and The New York Times. The Onion is on to more vital truths. Like the current headline, “Nation Down to Last Hundred Grown-Ups: Mature Adults Could Be Gone in Next 50 Years, Experts Say.”

If you doubt me, and some of you are programmed to do nothing but, consider, oh, 97% of the modern Republican party. Or, for a tighter focus, consider just Kurt Zellers, Speaker of the Minnesota House. Mr. Zellers, who prefers a kind of faux-Praetorian hair-style, has guided his colleagues through what can only rank as the single silliest, most adolescent-minded session in the history of the Minnesota legislature … and that I do not believe is hyperbole. Somewhere after a sweeping mandate last November to cut spending and create “jobs, jobs, jobs” Mr. Zellers apparently decided that what the pissed off Minnesota voter really meant to demand was 12 or 13 variations on new anti-abortion bills, a Voter ID bill to stop rampant corruption and abuse of our most precious liberty (though none has been detected), and an expansion of the right to gun down anyone for any reason you think at some point now or in the future might threaten your physical being or the snowblower in the garage you forgot to close last night. If the threat comes from the substitute paperboy wandering too close to the front door, well them is the breaks in the hyper-violent Seal Team 6 video game world perpetually playing in the heads of Mr. Zellers’ troops.

Then of course there is the sine qua non of Mr. Zellers’ guidance this session, the election year standard the GOP always tries to drag out when they fear the polls aren’t trending their way: A real ban on gay marriage … on top of the ban that already exists. I don’t know about you, but everywhere I went last fall I remember hearing thousands of massed, angry Minnesotans — torches and pitchforks held aloft — roaring their demand that Steve and Greg, the two gay guys with the terraced, variegated hosta garden and the Tiki lights over the patio not be allowed to file papers saying they are as married as Peter and Gretchen across the street … or at least as married as Peter and Gretchen were until Peter met Sue the divorcee from Eau Claire at a Trempeleau County Tea Party gun show and got caught flagrante delicta in the Hatari! Suite at the Kalahari theme park hotel.

Whatever else we might say, let’s give Mr. Zellers credit for delivering on that explicit promise to the recession-strapped voters of Minnesota. Moreover, let’s give him credit for his rapid response to the now legendary Pastor Bradlee Dean “invocation” at the very same House session where Mr. Zellers had scheduled a vote on that gay marriage business. In case you’ve forgotten, Pastor Dean, a minister who has paid roughly $40,000 in the past two years to rent air time at a low-power radio station in Eagan to advance the word of God (the word that mostly says Barack Obama is a terrorist and gays should be arrested and executed), was “accidentally” invited … on that day … by some otherwise obscure lieutenant in Mr. Zellers’ ranks … and all hell broke loose. No one of course, not even Mr. Zellers, who is astonishingly well-informed on every other matter (mostly rampant voter fraud) claims to have known anything at all about the Rev. Dean, even though Michele Bachmann has embraced him (her husband “de-gayifies” gays as a business, you know, counseling them on the poor “lifestyle choice” they’ve made) and other Republican legislators have appeared on his radio show.

Because he was so buffaloed by the appearance of and reaction to Monsignor Dean — who sported a pony tail and wore a track suit to deliver his prayer — Mr. Zellers issued a swift apology and condemnation. Think: Homer Simpson apologizing to Marge. “Marge, I am SO SORRY … I got caught.” Better yet, Mr. Zellers reached for the button all of us — especially children — wished we had whenever we screw up. The re-set button. Press. All gone. Never happened. Scrubbed from the record. And like magic, all the silliness is over, behind us, so as serious adults always do, we can … “move on”, usually to our next gaffe and blunder.

With the Bishop Dean hiccup behind him, locked away and forgotten, Mr. Zellers arranged to delay the vote on his gay marriage bill until the next day, Saturday, when most of the Capitol press at least were weed-popping dandelions and grilling burgers at home.

Finally then, Mr. Zellers had an uncluttered battlefield before him on which to confront Mark Dayton, “the radical” determined to drop the most massive goddam tax increase on innocent Minnesotans the world has ever seen — but mostly on small businessmen. Simple, salty and earthy folks already oppressed by burdensome government regulations that don’t allow them to pour toxic chemicals out their back doors and things like that. If a few hundred Lake Minnetonka billionaires who pour gobs of money into MnForward and other opaque GOP funding operations happen to also benefit from Mr. Zellers’ principled resistance to this kind of hyper-liberal looting, well, sometimes there is also collateral advantage.

But at least the last of the most endangered species, actual grown-ups, are standing their ground. And defending your Constitutional right to pretend to be mature.

* Not intended as a factual statement.