Published Sunday, August 19, 2012

Politics and road kill

It’s impossible to go anywhere or do anything without hearing or seeing political news.

That is, unless you get your “news” from “People” magazine and “TMZ.”

Since I don’t care who the Kardashian sisters sleep with or whether Miley Cyrus’ hair is now as short as her IQ is low, I watch “real” news. (Before and after “Swamp People.”)

Because I’m exposed to political news I know what “swing states” are and why they matter in the upcoming presidential election.

Swing states are those that can go either way in the 2012 election and are critical to victory for either side.

There are only a few. The ones being discussed currently are Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Pundits on both sides of the political spectrum go breathless each day explaining how candidate A or B can’t win the election unless he wins all or a combination of the swing states.

Which is fine. It’s always been that way.

And in the past I’ve always felt like swing state voters are about as smart as voters of any other state.

What they say goes, and the rest of us live with the results.

Not any more.

A recent news report proves my long-held but unvoiced opinion that Pennsylvanians should not be allowed to vote for president.

Not because they can’t pass a civics test. Because they can’t even handle roadkill.

The most recent episode of critter carcass mismanagement occurred shortly after an unfortunate raccoon perished while trying to cross Franklin Rd. in Johnstown, Pa.

The tire tracks across the beast’s back made the cause of death clear.

The mystery is why it became part of the road on which it died.

Before the raccoon’s family could even gather and pay their respects, a state painting crew came along to decorate the fresh asphalt with festive double yellow lines. Unfortunately, the raccoon was directly in the painters’ path.

Painters saw the animal, but failed to remove it.

Sounds like a union problem regarding division of labor.

John Ambrosini, spokesperson for the state DOT said paint crews generally have a foreman who is tasked with cleaning away dirt, brush and dead animals before painting proceeds.

On this day the foreman was absent.

For some reason (probably George Bush tax cuts for the wealthy) there was no other union-certified raccoon remover available.

The paint machine was too big to turn around on what was insensitively described as a road with “squirrelly geometry,” so the work crew painted right over the raccoon.

The result was a day-glo yellow tribute to government incompetence.

A passing motorcyclist snapped a photo of the slaughter and it appeared in the local paper.

Readers didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Normally, one could overlook such an insensitive —not to mention stupid — error.

Normally one would not assume that the death of one raccoon would raise questions about the wisdom of all Pennsylvanians.

But this is not the first time it’s happened.

Several years ago I wrote a similar story about a Pennsylvania road crew that paved over a dead deer.

This bunch didn’t bother to try and remove the animal, either. They steamrolled it, antlers and all, then buried the buck beneath a sea of asphalt with its legs dangling out like the filling in a turnpike twinkie. Inexcusable.

I have friends in Pennsylvania. I like them a lot.

I still don’t think they should be allowed to vote.

Citizens of a state that can’t get a dead animal off the road have no business putting a live person in the White House.


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