Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Tom and Leo Show, brought to you by the fresh scent of Glade Plug-Ins

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I'm having a blast following the Bristol County sheriff's race. Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson plus Fall River City Councilor Leo O. Pelletier equals madcap antics!

Thus far, their campaign can be charitably described as hostile, with both sides this close from settling the election after school in the parking lot.

I don't look forward to voting for either of them, mind you. I just like watching them.

Their campaign statements have great comic timing, like an old vaudeville routine. First, Hodgson, the straight-man, will say something buttoned-down and Republican ("I can charge any prisoner fees I want!"). Then, Pelletier will say that Hodgson is full of it ("He's full of it!"). Cue the laugh track.

Then Hodgson grows indignant, and gets off a good one ("Pelletier would charge a booking fee, too!"). Pelletier gets the last word and the biggest laughs ("You're a big crybaby!")--and then they're off the stage, leaving us begging for more.

But actually voting for either of them? I'll have to think about it.

On the plus side, Hodgson sure seems to dig being a sheriff, which is nice. He's always finding new and interesting ways to keep prisoners miserable, pursuing his vocation with holy fervor.

On the other hand, I've heard of people who openly loathe him and others who just loathe him in private, ranking his temperament somewhere between that of a Spanish Inquisitor and Snidely Whiplash.

I have no opinion, myself, because I've never met him. For all I know, Hodgson's quite charming--a real sly-boots with an infectious grin and a singing voice that gives ladies the vapors. I like to believe that everybody's nice at heart, even prison wardens who would lock inmates in rooms without toilets.

But I just can't vote for a guy who would take the Dickensian step of charging prisoners $5 in daily rent, all in a ploy to butter voters' bread with talk of "saving taxpayers money."

Besides, where's this mysterious tax relief? I'm a taxpayer, and I felt zero relief before a judge struck down his $5 fee. Or am I the only person who hasn't gotten his complimentary Hodgson Bucks in the mail yet?

I've never met Pelletier, either, but he seems like an agreeable, regular guy I could have a beer with. Though his primary platform plank is that he isn't Sheriff Hodgson. Actually, that's every plank, and for some, that's enough.

Pelletier is beloved in Fall River for speaking his mind, but as President Bush illustrates, there's a difference between "telling it like it is" and "not having that switch in one's head that makes one think about things before saying them."

Like a while back, some pro-Hodgson signs were vandalized. So rather than express empty regret, like a politician should, Pelletier scoffed to a Herald News reporter, "He's being a big crybaby."

That's his opinion, I suppose, but then he took a decidedly crybabyish tone: "I've lost more stuff than he has."

Elsewhere, he's accused Hodgson of spying on him and his supporters, and once published the license plate numbers of unmarked county vehicles on his Web site, a serious security breach. He took them down quickly--but then said, "He done me a favor. He advertised my Web site and advertised that he does undercover work."

Then Pelletier blamed Hodgson for contacting him in writing, instead of calling on the phone so he could have removed the numbers sooner.

So I'm stuck. Do I vote for the uptight one or the sloppy one?

That gives me a fantastic idea...

Why not elect both of them as sheriffs? Hodgson and Pelletier are the two great tastes that taste great together. They hate each other, but they'd have to work together--imagine how zany county law enforcement could be.

They could save some real taxpayer money by filming the whole thing and selling it as a TV sitcom, putting their boisterous repartee to good use. And I think we have a clip...

--

SCENE: The Bristol County House of Correction looms in the background as Pelletier and Hodgson both try to drive into the same parking space marked "Parking for Sheriff only." They get out of their cars and shake their heads ruefully as the frame freezes.

NARRATOR. Can two men share a prison ... without driving each other crazy?

(Cue the "Odd Couple" theme and the opening credits!)

(After a moment, we cut to inside the sheriffs' office. Leo is smoking a cigar with his feet on the desk, one side of his clip-on tie dangling freely from the collar. He's got a cursive L on his shirt. Leo's half of the room is filthy, but Tom's is immaculate, with a pretty little doily under the computer. Tom enters, mopping his brow, which takes a while--it extends pretty far back.)

TOM. Leo, call the National Guard. Some cad's purloined our law enforcement equipment.

LEO. Aw, keep your mustache on, Tommy. I sold mosta that junk.

TOM. (incredulous) What do you mean, I ask incredulously? My Mobile Command Unit? My fleet of amphibious tanks? Those sets of rocket-powered snowshoes I bought in case we had a prison break in a blizzard?

LEO. I held a yaad sale and used the money to buy a few extra toilets aroun' here.

TOM. What about my tactical nuclear missile? I was saving that!

LEO. I given it to the Salivation Army. Whatchoo buy that thing for, anyways? Parades?

TOM. (rubbing his forehead) Calgon, take me away...

LEO. Sheesh, you're the one always sayin' I should clean something up around here!

TOM. I meant your desk. Last week I saw an old corned-beef sandwich on there crawl over and throw itself in the trash. (He lifts Leo's feet off the desk and puts a coaster under them.) And for the last time, your smoking that cigar in here defeats the purpose of my using the Glade Plug-In.

(Tom sits heavily into his chair--which is actually an inmate on all fours covered with a sheet--and holds up a Glade Plug-In.)

TOM. (addressing the camera) "My Two Sheriffs" is brought to you by Glade Plug-Ins. Available in Mountain Brisk, Musky Ocean, Moldy Stucco, Roasted Pine and new Bananaberry. (to Leo:) I just saved some taxpayer money with that product placement.

(A knock on the door.)

LEO. Here's my pizza!

(Two inmates burst in, chained at the ankles. They're named Lenny and Squiggy.)

SQUIGGY. Hello!

LEO. (sputtering) The jailboids have busted loose! Get 'em!

(Leo draws his gun and fires. Luckily, Leo's only allowed to carry a decoy that shoots a flag with "BANG!" written on it.)

TOM. Remain calm, Leo. They're a work crew. (To Lenny and Squiggy:) All right, you maggots. Start earning your good behavior.

(Lenny and Squiggy start shoveling junk from Leo's desk into trash cans.)

LEO. Aw, c'mon, Tom! My poker buddies are gunna be here any minute--Murray and Speed and that little bald guy with the glasses! The racket these guys making, we won't have no fun!

TOM. Pfft. What a crybaby.

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