Rex and The City: Slumdog legislator

Monday, June 22, 2009 at 12:00am

CORRECTED VERSION: (See note on last item)

Rex has learned that one member of the Tennessee House of Representatives is working on getting his own bailout package, and no he did not call President Barack Obama.

State Rep. Henry Fincher of Cookeville has auditioned to be a contestant on the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The auditions were held recently at the Hilton Downtown.

Rex was pleased to learn that Fincher passed a “timed, written test,” something that Rex believes most legislators would have struggled with, and is now waiting to see if he will be picked from those called back for the “interview portion.” Let’s hope he did better answering those questions than Miss California did.

While Rex has no doubt that should Fincher appear on the show that he would readily poll the audience to make up his mind on a question, what politician can’t do that, Rex wonders who he would call if he has to “phone a friend.” If he calls a lobbyist would that surprise anyone?


How many times does Rex have to go over this? Yet again, another person in Tennessee politics has brought derision to the state for a joke about President Obama that was racist.

Last week an aide to State Senate Caucus Chair Diane Black was busted for forwarding a racist joke on a state computer. Black said that she had reprimanded the aide and told Chattanooga Times Free-Press reporter Andy Sher that she did not tolerate such behavior. To prove the she wasn’t racist Black stated, “I spent time in Haiti during the time of Aristide working with people with black skin who needed medical help.”

While many have called for Black to fire her assistant, the problem has been systemic. Both Tennessee Republicans and Democrats have been caught with their pants down and their red neck showing. Others have called for mandatory diversity classes, but Rex isn’t sure “sensitivity training” would do the trick either.

Maybe we should resurrect that annoying Microsoft paperclip that tried to “help” you when you were writing something on the computer. Anytime a reference is made to Obama in your e-mails, it pops on screen and makes you answer 20 questions before proceeding. Surely there is some technology developed as a result of the Patriot Act that does this, it’s not like the government isn’t already reading your e-mails.

Fewer statues for pigeons to poop on

In other news from the legislature, the State Senate voted down a proposal to “urge” the State Capitol Commission to have statues of Tennessee’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners built with private money and erected on the grounds of the capitol.

The two snubbed Nobel laureates are former Secretary of State Cordell Hull (1871-1955) and former Vice President Al Gore.

A bust of Hull already sits inside the State Capitol, but there is no monument or recognition of Gore. Rex wonders if slapping Al’s name on the side of a recycling bin would satisfy the pro-Gore statue crowd.

Speaking of birds that poop…

Last week, Rex was notified that someone we all know had lost a pet. Sad yes, but compassion gave way to befuddlement very quickly in this case.

What shocked Rex was that he was notified not by a neighbor or acquaintance, but by The Tennessean. The story was about how WSMV news anchor Cynthia Williams had lost her pet cockatiel, Sunny.

A cockatiel, also known as nymphicus hollandicus, is a bird. Yes, a bird. The folks at 1100 Broadway pushed out a story about how someone lost their bird and wanted help finding said bird that was lost.

How was the bird lost you ask? It “was riding on Williams’ shoulder as he normally does when traveling with her” the paper reported.

Apparently the bird, known as Sunny, went flying out the window when Williams hit a curb while on the way to Walgreen’s. Rex also noticed that throughout the “article” that Sunny was referred to as a “he” and a “she,” which then got him wondering if Sunny was related to Cher and Chastity Bono.

While Rex is sorry for Williams’ loss, (though the image of a woman riding pirate-style to Walgreen’s is funny) he just doesn’t understand how that ever made it onto The Tennessean’s news page. How someone had the nerve to ask a trained journalist to write that stuff up and then publish it we will never know.

Seriously, it’s a good thing that former Tennessean editor John Seigenthaler isn’t dead because if he were, he’d be rolling over in his grave.

La-loan the vice mayor a pronunciation guide… or at least The City Paper

(CORRECTION: The original last item in this column, based solely on the pronounciation of the last name of a Metro Councilmember, erred because Kristine LaLonde's name was being used correctly by Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors. Rex, pronounced WRECKS, reported that it wasn't. The City Paper regrets the error, and would like to note for the record, the councilwoman's name is pronounced La LUND.)



Rex Noseworthy appears Mondays in The City Paper. He can reached at