I miss the heck out of Zell Miller. I wish he would come back and straighten out the mess under the Gold Dome. And he could, too. His detractors - mostly liberal weenies these days - go apoplectic at the mention of his name. (That isn't particularly noteworthy; liberal weenies go apoplectic at the mention of my name, too.) However, most Georgians are not liberal weenies and think ol' Zell hung the moon.
If Zell Miller were governor, there would be 22 repentant legislators and 5,000 businesses falling all over each other to pay their back taxes, which amount to about a half billion dollars, in order not to have to face the wrath of Zell. I have experienced Zell's wrath up close and personal. It is not a fun thing.
If Zell Miller were governor, there would be no concrete fish pond being built in (wink! wink!) Houston County, and we wouldn't be talking about fishing tournaments while the state is running an almost $2 billion deficit. Zell wouldn't block a $25 million offer from the Nature Conservancy to buy the Oaky Woods property in (wink! wink!) Houston County and then turn around and buy it himself. He also would not do a deal with a member of the Board of Economic Development to buy some land in Florida and then get his attorney - a prominent member of the Legislature from (wink! wink!) Houston County - to get him a $100,000 retroactive tax break. Zell doesn't operate that way.
If Zell Miller were governor - and this may be stretching a point - he would never, ever give an elephant a physical examination. Or ride a motorcycle around the Capitol or drive a bus across town or manufacture any other contrived photo op. He would be in his office taking names and kicking fannies until the budget was under control.
If Zell Miller were governor and the Speaker of the House told him he was showing his "rear end," Zell would whip his, well, rear end right on the spot. He threatened to do that to that smart aleck on one of the cable channels. Most of the media and assorted political pundits rolled their eyes in embarrassment. Most of the rest of us wish he had done so and would have held his coat while he did it. It would not have taken long. No sissy liberal who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy would last one minute with a mountain man from North Georgia. Zell would have wiped the smirk off his face faster than a hog eats corn.
If Zell Miller were governor, maybe he could get my telephones to work. I can't seem to find anybody at the "new" AT&T that is not a robot. Zell could probably get a law passed saying the mismanagers responsible for screwing up a great company like BellSouth must pay penance by fixing all our telephones personally.
If Zell Miller were governor, nobody - but nobody - would be screwing around with public education. Every governor claims to be the "education governor" except the current one, who is too busy building concrete fish ponds. Remember HOPE? That was Zell Miller's brainchild. Since he's been gone, politicians have tried to portray public school teachers as villains. The mantra that "teachers' unions" cost Roy Barnes his re-election is as fallacious as the sun rising in the west. What beat Barnes was a poorly run campaign that one prominent Democrat called "the worst I've ever seen." Teachers were a convenient excuse. Zell wouldn't allow it.
If Zell Miller were governor, we would probably elect him to the U.S. Senate, but this time, he wouldn't go. He would have no part of TARP and trillion-dollar deficits and weasels like Harry Reid. He would raise holy hell at Nancy Pelosi commandeering military jets for her personal use at our expense and groan at Joe Biden's diarrhea of the mouth. You can fool Zell once, but not twice. No way he would put up with that stuff, and I don't blame him.
Zell Miller, of course, will never again run for public office. But just the thought has ruined this day for a lot of liberal weenies. That alone makes it all worthwhile.
E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.