Friday, February 22, 2008

Impeached former Arizona governor dies

Former Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona died today at the age of 83.

I remember Mecham, a Republican, being a fixture on the national news during his 1987-88 reign, due to his endless stream of offbeat and bigoted comments and actions. This finally ended when he was impeached for funneling state funds to his Pontiac dealership and removed from office. Later he was convicted in criminal court of violating campaign finance laws. Mecham claimed the whole impeachment and criminal trial were a big conspiracy by political enemies who wanted to ruin him.

Evan Mecham made such a fool of himself that the news became a form of entertainment. Nowadays, however, I realize he wasn't all that funny. The conservative governor's actions actually hurt Arizona tourism by leading to boycotts of the state. One staffer claimed Mecham actually believed he got the governor's throne by divine right. The governor was so paranoid that he once said, "Whenever I'm in my house or my office, I always have a radio on. It keeps the lasers out."

I'm actually going pretty easy on the guy. A lot of websites have been a bit rougher on Mecham today, because these sites are full of old dudes like me who remember how embarrassing his statements were. I feel guilty saying anything negative about someone who just died, but it's an understatement to say that Mecham was a controversial public figure. It's my job to educate and inform my readers who may be unfamiliar with him.

I remember one week when the big event in my household was an upcoming story on one of the TV newsmagazines about Evan Mecham. My folks were looking fiveward to the program all week, because we all knew Mecham was going to embarrass himself again. But, lo and behold, the station - it was either our local network affiliate or another affiliate that we got on cable - ran ads and promos over the first few minutes of the show.

That a TV station in Kentucky or Ohio was willing to lop off part of a TV show in order to avoid exposing Mecham shows how connected the media in my area is with conservatives.

The saga of Evan Mecham will be remembered for decades to come.


1 comment:

  1. I think I remember this guy..

    Also I remember another guy like this..I think he was a state governor or some politician somewhere out west.

    The guy I remember had white hair. He was filmed giving a nazi salute. They interviewed him on the news and he kept denying it.

    Reporter: "But you DID make a nazi salute. We have it on tape."

    Politician: "I did not!! And you're gonna be six feet under if you report that!!"

    Reporter: "Are you threatening me?"

    Politician: "I don't make threats, I keep promises."

    Does anybody else remember this kook? It wasn't Evan Mecham, but it was some other guy.