Where in the world is George? I'm not talking about George W. I know where that George is. He has donned his flight suit and is preparing to jet to Wall Street where he will land in front of the empty Merrill Lynch building festooned with a "Mission Accomplished" banner.
No, I am talking about George E. As in George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue, who happens to be your governor and mine - or at least he was until he just up and disappeared a few weeks ago. It wasn't the first time he has been reported MIA.
Remember when House Speaker Glenn Richardson got his panties in a wad in the last days of the recent legislative session? The governor took off for China until he was sure that Richardson had gone back to Hiram and taken his bad temper with him.
Then when we almost ran out of gas a few weeks ago, it was the governor's spokesperson, Bert Brantley, who assumed the role of acting governor and told us that George E. was unavailable to help with the long lines, short gas supply and even shorter tempers, because he was in Spain on an industry-seeking trip.
The only industry I know of in Spain is bullfighting. I believe someone must have told the governor there was a Toro business available, and he thought he was getting a lawn mower plant for his boyhood home in Houston County. What he didn't realize is that the kind of toro business the Spaniards were talking about consists of angry bulls and guys in tight sequined pants.
I hope somebody set the governor straight. I have been to Houston County, and they strike me as the kind of people who would shoot the bulls on sight -- and probably the guys in tight sequined pants, too.
Now that we have some gas, acting Gov. Brantley has stirred up some serious dust. He says he wants to eliminate the annual automatic cost-of-living increases in retired teachers' pensions.
Actually, he says that is what Gov. George E. wants to do, but as I noted earlier, we don't know that for a fact because we don't know where the governor is. He might still be in Spain trying to get those angry bulls on the state airplane after the Spaniards assured him that bulls eat grass and, by definition, that makes them lawn mowers. The Spaniards still haven't figured out how to sell him on taking the guys in the tight sequined pants, but they are working on it.
If acting Gov. Brantley will accept some advice from a modest and much-beloved columnist, he will drop the idea of eliminating the retired teachers' cost-of-living increases like a hot piquillo pepper. Teachers are very smart -- I have two of them in my family -- and smart people with some free time on their hands can dream up innumerable ways of making life miserable for anybody who messes with them and their pensions.
Acting Gov. Brantley hasn't helped his case either by announcing that a $23 million "Go Fish, Georgia" Center is under construction in Perry. I think the retired teachers and the rest of us commoners would like to know why such a boondoggle is necessary at this time, given that the state is facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.
I suspect acting Gov. Brantley will be happy to get the real governor back on the job. If it's not the retired school teachers in an uproar, it's the House Speaker acting like a 2-year-old. If it's not the House Speaker stamping his feet and holding his breath, it is a totally confused columnist trying to understand how we can build a $23 million fish pond when the state is broke. If it's not justifying a fish pond, it is worrying about a group of guys in tight sequined pants making goo-goo eyes at the state's chief executive while he is busy trying to load a herd of angry animals on an airplane.
Acting Gov. Brantley would be the first to tell you that being governor is not as easy as George Ervin Perdue makes it look. Even when he goes AWOL. And that's no bull.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; Web site.