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Mayoral Liver, D is for Driving and a $1,707 Puzzle

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The Deseret News’ editorial policy regarding alcohol operates much like a physical law of gravity. That is, alcohol must always and forever be brought down, as in very, very low down. Which is fine, really. There are plenty of knuckleheads who need reminding that alcohol consumption carries several dangers, but they probably don’t read the LDS Church-owned Deseret News.


No, the D-News’ undying urge to cast all things alcohol in an evil, Satanic light stems from some puzzling need to stoke the righteous fires of its readership. So we get tiresome Lee Benson columns investigating Brian “Emmanuel” Mitchell’s penchant for drink. The not-so-subtle message here is that Mitchell’s apparent deranged mental state, matched with Mormon notions of polygamy and personal revelation, had nothing to do with Elizabeth Smart’s abduction. No, it was the beers. Then there’s the paper’s relentless menu of features about families ripped apart by drunk drivers. Never mind that Utah has the lowest rate of DUI cases in the nation, a rate The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported as trending downward.


Not even Salt Lake City’s mayor is immune. Judging by the D-News’ May 16 story, which corralled comments from local doctors critical of Rocky Anderson’s glass-tipping during a promotional tour of downtown nightlife, you’d think our workaholic mayor had turned derelict or something. He was “setting a bad example” for youth. Fact: Alcohol is legal in Utah. Fact: Youth tend to mimic peers, not middle-aged fuddy-duddies (unless the D-News finds our mayor dangerously hip). Fact: The mayor did not invite anyone underage to drink with him. Fact: Despite last year’s Winter Games, downtown Salt Lake City still struggles for commerce. Should the mayor host a tour of suburban ice-cream parlors instead?


Let’s put down the bottle and get back to driving. Utahns rarely complain about the weather. Instead, we complain about Utah drivers. In a national survey conducted by TheSteelAlliance, Salt Lake City was recently ranked in the top three cities with the drowsiest drivers. Forget alcohol. There’s some untapped media fodder for the D-News. Salt Lake City drivers were graded a D for safety, and a C for rudeness. The most egregious act of rudeness among Salt Lake City drivers was drinking a beverage behind the wheel. The survey found that Charlotte, N.C., and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area ranked at the top of safe, polite driving cities. Chicago ranked as the most unsafe, while New York City—surprise—won as the rudest driving city.


The putrid stench of wealth fuming off most of our elected representatives is a foregone conclusion, but few know how bizarre gift-giving gets the closer you get to the White House. According to the Office of Government Ethics, our Prez is worth something on the order of $22 million, while the Veep shames him at $86 million. How surprising. The real thrills start with the Prez’s $1,000 cowboy hat and a White House staff gift of a puzzle valued at $1,707. A puzzle worth $1,707?! Granted, our leader’s oracular vernacular has all the smooth edges of a jigsaw, but the man isn’t known for spending his time with vintage Rubik’s cubes.

bfulton@slweekly.com

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