For a guy more uptight than a bullfrog in boiling water, State Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, can be a hoot. I first discovered this when he and another senator named Chip (Pearson, from Dawsonville) teamed up a few years ago to pass a bill in the Senate banning our body parts from being micro-chipped without our permission.
I thought that was pretty funny: Chip, Chip and Microchip. Get it?
I wrote that when the bill passed the Senate, Rogers was so ecstatic he was seen running up and down the halls at the Capitol yelling, “I am Mork from Ork. Nanoo! Nanoo!”
Alas, Mr. Rogers didn’t find that remark funny. “My problem with the quote is that in this age of electronic media it will be attributed to me forever, long after people realize it was in jest,” he sniffed.
He should be so lucky. It turns out that Mork from Ork was really “Will (the Winner) Rogers,” a slick-talking cable TV sports handicapper who for a decade guaranteed bettors a whopping success with his picks on selected college and pro games. And all of this for a fee of only $10 to $25. I think even Mork was shocked to hear the news.
Will the Winner was outed by the investigative website, Atlanta Unfiltered, operated by former Atlanta newspaper editor Jim Walls and ably reported by David Michaels, a member of The News Enterprise, a group of journalism students from Emory University.
Atlanta Unfiltered has given a lot of self-important politicians the hives recently with their focus on everything from political skullduggery and questionable ethical behavior to identifying former sport handicappers enthusiastically trying to separate fools from their money.
Some of Rogers’ former colleagues wonder what the big deal is. Joe Duffy, CEO of Offshoreinsider.com and himself a sports handicapper, has mounted a spirited — if somewhat weird — defense on Will the Winner’s behalf. Mr. Duffy helpfully suggests on YouTube that we “shut our pie holes” about his buddy, Chip Rogers. (I think that means “hush, already,” but I’m a little rusty on my gambling vernacular.)
Duffy says, sure, Mr. Rogers wasn’t necessarily a “reputable sports handicapper, but more out a tout” and, yes, he was in the “kind of seedy end of the industry.”
But so what? With his own pie hole at full throttle, Mr. Duffy thinks none of this should impact Rogers’ future political career, assuming he chooses one day to run for, say, U.S. senator. He’s kidding, right?
As usual, Will the Winner is blaming everyone but himself for the mess he is in and which he seems to have created on his own. It seems that nothing is ever his fault. He is being attacked by “Democrats” and “the left,” he says.
Rogers claims he was just an “actor” and had no part in the gambling enterprise. If he wanted to scratch his acting itch, he would have done better to have joined the local Woodstock drama group where he could have played the real Will Rogers, lariat and all. (“Howdy, folks. I never met a man I didn’t like and I guarantee the Patriots to beat the spread handily this week. Now watch this neat rope trick. That’ll be $15, please.”)
The Georgia Christian Coalition, which doesn’t strike me as your typical bunch of left-wing Democrats, has called for Rogers’ resignation as majority leader. Public school advocates are enjoying watching him twist in the wind, given his back-of-the-hand treatment of public schools in the state, including his own Cherokee County school system.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, now UGA and Georgia Tech are on his case for his using their logos on his yard signs without permission. His supporters have been told to remove them pronto. It’s just hasn’t been a beautiful day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood recently.
Rogers has competition in the Republican primary this year from Brandon Beach, president of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. As usual, the big money is with the incumbent. Thanks to lizard-loafered lobbyists, Mr. Chips has over $300,000 in campaign contributions. Beach has a whopping $1,853.
But how badly will his stumbling and bumbling over these recent revelations about his career as a sports tout hurt Rogers’ re-election chances? Voters in the 21st district will let us know that this July.
In the meantime, stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Will the Winner. Dick the Dauntless is betting it will be a hoot. Nanoo! Nanoo!
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint. Contact him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.