Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lambert vs. Romney: The crooner and the coif

Like it? 
I sort of like the mayor. I mean -- I don't like him like him. Quote unquote. I just like him.

And before you spread rumors that I'm in his pocket, I'll have you know that I've never met Edward M. Lambert Jr. -- never mind his pockets.

I saw him driving around once last year, back when he was giving people $100 if he spotted you cleaning your sidewalk. I stood on the porch all day with a broom, and he drove right past. He looked just like in the pictures. Maybe shorter, but it was a big car.

No, I only know Ed the same way most of you know Ed -- by reading about him in the newspaper. Based on that, he seems kindly. He builds us new schools, for instance. Technically, several burly men do the actual building part, but he's nice enough to handle the paperwork. Also, now that summer's coming, he'll be planting new trees in the city. Technically, some granola-type people will actually put the shrubs in the ground, but he gets to name them.

Ed seems sincere, good-humored. He seems affable. Yes, that's the word: affable. He's got a lot of aff.

But as it turns out, he's not just a mellow guy -- he can also be a powderkeg of white-hot flaming rage. I like that in a mayor.

Take this week. In a story published in my newspaper, Ed vented a torrent of bile at Gov. Mitt Romney. Mitt put the kibosh on a proposed public law school in Dartmouth, or so Ed fumed. Also, Mitt has consistently ignored or stalled projects for this area.

"I think it's time to say we will not be treated that way," he said.

I agree. Again, I only know Romney from reading the newspaper, but he seems like a sleazeball (note to lawyers: I wrote "seems like"). Mitt couldn't find his way to Fall River with a labeled map and an Azorean guide. Meanwhile, that 6-foot hairdo has no problem hosting political fund-raisers in the South and badmouthing his own state on the way to a 2008 presidential bid.

So, since Mitt doesn't pay attention unless you threaten him or give him donations, Ed said he's going to shed his nice-guy image and "barge into the governor's office to make a case for southeastern Massachusetts." Good for Ed. If there's anything that the Statehouse needs from middle-class people in Fall River, it's a good old-fashioned barging.

I just wish I could have a videotape of that encounter. If it turns into a hair-pulling match, one of them will have a distinct disadvantage. I'll have to be content with my own imagination...


SCENE: The governor's corner office in the Statehouse. Mitt Romney is examining a plan to plaster over the corners in his office and make it more oval-shaped. His intercom buzzes!


SECRETARY. Mr. Romney, the mayor of Fall River is here to see you.

MITT. Mayor of whatchasaynow?

SECRETARY. He's furious, sir! No! He's headed right for me! Back, you fiend! Help! Gaaaah!

VOICE. No appointment!

(We hear garbled screams, and the line goes dead.)

MITT. (shrugs, talks into a different intercom) Secretary 2, get me another secretary.

SECRETARY 2. Right away, sir.

(We hear a resounding crack, and wood flies into splinters -- the door bursts off its hinges in a miasma of smoke. Emerging from the wreckage is an enraged Ed Lambert, his jacket sleeves torn off revealing biceps athrob; his glasses are askew, his tie badly mis-Windsored.)

ED. (emitting what can only be described as a subhuman growl) You ... disgust me!

MITT. Are you with the Statehouse tour?

ED. You listen and you listen good, fancypants. I've had enough of your crap to choke the Taunton River! You know where that is, don'tcha?

MITT. I know you. You're from that city with the spicy breakfast sausage. I didn't like it.

ED. You're damn right it's spicy -- and it's going to get a lot spicier, my friend! You're gonna do what I say, see? And your phony baloney blueblood shtick -- you know where you can shtick it!

MITT. I'll have my press agent contact your press agent.

ED. No more games -- I've had it up to here with your non-presidential non-campaign and your shiny teeth! Understand, Jack? Up to here!

MITT. (towering over him) That's not so bad.

ED. Then up to your head, Sally! (pulls a well-worn list from his pocket) Either we get a commuter rail station, a public law school, a waterfront park, a courthouse, and a city hall that doesn't look like a Dresden bomb shelter -- or else!

MITT. I don't have to take this from you. I saved the Olympics that one time.

ED. Pfft! Describe how in five words or less!

MITT. (thinks for a moment) "I fired some people." That's four. Now scram -- I've got to write more Massachusetts jokes that'll knock 'em dead in Ohio.

ED. (gritting his teeth) Time to take out the trash...

(Suddenly, Ed leaps over the desk and starts mussing Mitt's hair. Mitt shrieks like a 4-year-old girl who's seen a spider.)


ED. (wiping his fingers on his pants -- they're covered in mousse residue) Broke you like a set of cheap dishes, eh, chump? Maybe now you'll deal.

MITT. (searching frantically for a comb) What's your price, you monster? What can I give your pathetic metropolis to be rid of you?

ED. (shriveling) Anything at all would be nice, please. Ahem. Sir.

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