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For governor: the only choice

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The amazing thing is there is no choice, really. That is, if issues and past performance matter. The challenger is on the right side of virtually every issue. He is rude, yes, crude, egocentric, but a positive pit bull for anything and anyone in which he believes.

The incumbent is a career politician of marked, though sinister talent who has successfully engineered a radical social agenda that has gone far to cripple the glue that once held this vaguely united state together, our system of public schools.

Once, they were the great force that enabled the children of immigrants from the world over to emerge as one people who had the rudiments of the mental tools needed for success as Americans. Now, we are close to allowing any crank with four cane chairs, a Bible and a spare basement to open a state-supported school.

He tossed the mentally ill onto the streets in his first term and, in his second, denied food stamps to the children of welfare clients -- their babies -- whose parents refuse to comply with work guidelines. He has distorted the balance of power, cleverly causing the Legislature to cede more of its authority to the executive branch.

In one of the least covered stories in the past decade, environmental protections have been dangerously lessened. The condition of the state's roads are a well-known disgrace, though a last-minute election attempt to do a fast-and-dirty fix on every pothole in sight has traffic snarled throughout the metropolitan area.

That, of course, is your governor, John Engler, the candidate of every special interest and corporate newspaper in the state. (That's just the barest summary of his record; for eye-opening detail, go to www.metrotimes.com and call up the impressive array of stories Curt Guyette and others have done over the years.)

To call him a hypocrite is to demean hypocrisy. Were he a liberal, the Detroit News would attack him as the very symbol of sponging off the state. Johnny, you see, has never had a job in the private sector; he was elected to the Legislature while still in college.

Now he's 50, way past pleasingly plump, and gearing up for his last great ride on the public tit, four more years to find a cushy position with an insurance company or right- wing think tank before term limits blast us free of him in January 2003.

Eight years ago, the first time he ran, he promised he'd never, ever, run for a third term. True enough, when the time came, he never did announce; he sent his wife Michelle to do it. The first time he ran, he wanted eight debates. Now, knowing he faces a challenge he cannot handle, he has refused any televised confrontation. Why, incidentally, is he running for a third term? What does he seek to accomplish? They don't tell us.

"Gee, but what about Fieger, Dad," I hear you saying. "Isn't he a clown? A lunatic? Hasn't he said bad things sometimes? Doesn't he make people upset and angry?"

Yes, Buffy, he does, though the meaning of some of what he's said has been distorted by the lies of his opponents and the newspapers. But he is a fighter and a rock 'n' roller in a state and a town built by fighters and rockers. Walter Reuther was one, as was Coleman Young and, in his own way, even Henry Ford.

Geoffrey Fieger is the quintessential Detroiter. Sometimes he has played fast and loose with the court system; been a bull in a china shop, said things that embarrassed and angered. But he also has been a champion of the little guy, of people screwed over by the medical system or the legal system, of an eccentric named Jack Kevorkian.

Could a Governor Fieger, a man who doesn't suffer fools at all, let alone gladly, get it done? Consider: he has gone into court three times with a client who essentially admitted breaking the law. Three times, unanimous acquittals. (A fourth trial ended when a panicked small-town prosecutor threw in the towel after opening arguments.)

Despite newspaper accounts, he does have detailed positions on the issues; a link at the Metro Times Web site will take you to Fieger's Web site, where they are posted.

He has been the only candidate to stand up for those of differing sexual orientation, and won the primary mostly thanks to the enthusiastic support of people of color. Still not convinced? Well, the latest polls show Engler 59 percent, Fieger 27 percent.

Do you think we need another right-wing landslide? Do you want to send Engler and his henchmen a blank check to do unto us for the next four years, this time with no accountability, since Big John wouldn't have to worry about running again?

Unfortunately, Fieger has run a poor campaign, running wimpy ads and wasting time chasing after votes in the Upper Peninsula. Not smart, though rumors are he may be finally figuring it out and may be closing the gap in the home stretch.

"Maybe we need a crazy bastard in office," one Jeremy Marshall wrote to the Metro Times a few weeks ago. Especially one who is crazy like a fox.

But forget all that. Forget, as a matter of fact, everything I have said.

Then consider -- do you think John Engler has your best interests in mind? Then vote.

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