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Column plans more escapes from field trips

Thank you, and please be sedated.

It’s my honor to deliver another State of The Column address to my many distinguished and demented readers.

I apologize for the timing. Like years past, the president has made another blatant attempt to upstage me with his State of the Union blah-blah-blah.

Hey, speaking of the prez, I read the other day that Barack Obama called Mary Verner a “young lady” at a national conference.

This is why you never trust a politician.

That’s no young lady, sir. That’s my medium-well mayor.

But getting back to our scoop du jour, sadly I must report that the State of The Column is shakier than a John Edwards paternity denial.

That’s because The Column returns today after taking a week off minus pay.

No, it had nothing to do with what that guy wrote in a recent letter to the editor: “Mr. Clark is the one in need of confinement, at least from his keyboard.”

My hiatus was due to The Spokesman-Review’s “furlough” program. This is an economic move designed to cut costs and shrink employee self-worth to the size of a microbe’s shinbone.

Question: What sucks worse than taking a week off without pay?

A: Getting the flu while taking your no-pay-cation.

Seriously. I spent the last chunk of my furlough in a clammy, feverish fog.

Now I know what it’s like to be Martha Coakley.

But this is no time for depression. Not when The Column is on the brink of not one, but two dangerous adventures.

The first will come when I dare join a busload of Spokane boosters for a trip to Washington’s crapitol city – Olympia.

The odyssey is being organized by the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau as a way to celebrate Tourism Day, which apparently is Feb. 9.

Who knew?

The Column has always been a staunch supporter of tourism. Especially when that tourist is a visiting federal judge who drops his pants in Riverfront Park.

But The Column also sees this journey as an opportunity to lobby state leaders on other important issues.

Take Rep. Matt Shea, R-Greenacres, for example.

Shea is sponsoring a House bill to keep dangerous mental patients from taking field trips from state hospitals without a court order.

This is all about what happened last September, of course, when homicidal maniac Phillip Paul took off from his keepers while on an Eastern State Hospital-approved outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

“This was a very traumatic event for Spokane County,” said Shea in a news account.

True. But Shea needs to get his priorities straight.

Though plenty scary, Paul’s powder provided delicious fodder for The Column, as evidenced in ranting, raving and even a parody song.

Should The Column survive Olympia, an invitation has been extended to take part in the seventh annual Inland Northwest Motorcycle Show.

And by “take part,” I mean that The Column has been asked to get into a steel globe and try really, really hard not to get in the way of some motorcycle-riding kid who is racing round and round on the INSIDE WALLS!

Steve Cody, who contacted The Column, referred to the act as the “Ball of Thunder.”

The “Sphere of Sphincter Loss” sounds more accurate.

Actually, two riders were supposed to be inside the globe. Then Cody told the daredevils how big an obstacle would be in their way and they decided to, ahem, cut back.

Which brings us to the point of today’s State of The Column address.

The Column has always put the entertainment needs of the reader on a higher plane than little things like common sense or the likelihood of a loss of limb.

And so The Column has agreed to play human speed bump in this Blender of Doom motor ballet.

Just as soon, that is, as The Column locates a costume roomy enough to hide an adult diaper.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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