January 29, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if every political debate came complete with a lie detector? Do you think we could convince the candidates to hook up to a machine that would confirm whether they were telling the truth or not? I watch a lot of spy movies and I often see the secret agents use a shot of Sodium Pentothal to get the bad guys to give up the secrets. The CIA even argued that it should be allowed to use such tactics to interrogate suspected terrorists, but that might violate their civil rights.

While we might not be able to use it for criminal investigations, maybe we could use the drug on a voluntary basis. I’d suggest that we ask politicians to take a dose of the “truth serum” before they make any public speeches or enter into a debate. I’d love to see a disclaimer at the end of the latest political commercial stating that the candidate filmed the ad after taking a dose of truth serum, guaranteeing everything he said and did during the 30 seconds of air time is true. Even better, we could have the Sodium Pentathol Files, a news show like Firing Line or the O’Reilly Factor, where all the political guests are administered a does of truth serum before they are interviewed. Anyone that made it through 30 minutes hooked up to a lie detector with Bill O’Reilly firing off hard-hitting questions surely would be deemed a trust-worthy representative.

Then again, these truth detectors only work if the individual knows they are lying. If we had installed a lie detector at the recent opening of the Missouri legislative session, it would have been interesting to see who is not telling the truth. With both sides pointing fingers at the opposition, it’s obvious that someone isn’t being completely truthful to the public.

Governor Holden is blaming the Republican led legislature for cutting funding for education. “I will not rest until you have restored the funding you cut from our schools.” Holden said in his State of the State Address last week.

This obviously enraged Republicans, so much so that one representative broke protocol and spoke out following Holden’s rebuffing of lawmakers.

Representative Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill and House Speaker Pro Tem (second ranking Republican in legislature) yelled out “Release the money, Governor!” referring to Holden’s withholding from schools last year. The comment came in response to a succession of jabs by the governor at Republican lawmakers for not approving legislation to increase taxes to further fund schools.

So as we kick off the new legislative year it is apparent there is no olive branch on the horizon for the governor and state lawmakers. It sounds like we were lucky that the year didn’t kick off with some kicks, and punches as Jetton’s actions drew a quick response from the house Democratic Leader Rick Johnson who rushed toward Jetton and entered an animated argument with his fellow representative regarding his “bad manners”.

Who is telling the truth? Is the governor giving us the whole story when he points the finger at Republicans as the culprits behind the education funding problems? Are the Republicans just trying to save face when they say it was the governor who withheld the money, and who still will not release it despite better than expected state revenue? How are we to know? I say break out the truth serum and see who is willing to step forward and talk about education funding, or any other government issues for that matter.

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