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 V.13 No.31 | July 29 - August 4, 2004 

Thin Line

Darren, what were you thinking? Ah summer! Your mind goes numb in the blazing heat, your body gets even lazier than usual and the average news day is just plain slow.

But then along comes the sordid tale of con man-loser Doug Copp in the Albuquerque Journal and—praise Yahweh!—we've got a scandal with a five-day, front page magnitude. Actually, it was more like an exercise in self-absorbed, journalistic overkill. Sure Copp's exploits were newsworthy, but the blood was squeezed out of that stone by day two. The real eye-popper in this overkill episode, though, showed up in the Sunday, July 18, edition in a sidebar entitled "Upshot of Journal Report."

Among the random bullet points itemizing e-mail and telephone responses to the story was this gem: A call from the Bernalillo County sheriff saying, “I'd like to kick his ass. Seriously, let me have five minutes alone with him."

Did Sheriff Darren White forget that our new Metropolitan Detention Center has already earned a reputation for illegal brutality, and that guards were caught on surveillance camera pummeling three handcuffed inmates for 17 minutes earlier this year. The episode is very likely going to cost the public large sums of money once a fat settlement is reached. Do you think the lawyers for the inmates might have clipped and saved White's remarks?

For the record, the sheriff denounced the guard's actions at the time, telling the Albuquerque Tribune in the May 14 edition: "Why would corrections officers be involved in something like this when they knew it would be recorded on videotape? I think it's safe to say maybe they thought it wouldn't be reported."

“Thin Line” wondered if White figured his off-hand remark wouldn't have been reported in the morning daily, as well. We thought, maybe, as a role model for public safety officials, including personnel at the county lock-up, he would choose his public words more carefully. But that wasn't the case. "I was that mad when I read that article," explained the sheriff. "That's my point—it was difficult to read. I pretty much say what's on my mind, sometimes to a fault. But that's the way I am. If I felt it was inappropriate, I'd apologize."

Quotable moments, part two. Which person said the following: "I would not have voted for [President Bush's] tax cut, based on what I know. ... There is no doubt that the people at the top who need a tax break the least will get the most benefit. Too often presidents do things that don't end up helping the people they should be helping, and their staffs won't tell them their actions stink on ice."

Was it? a.) Heather "I'm an independent cuss" Wilson (actual quote) b.) Jesse "The Body" Ventura c.) Rev. Al Sharpton d.) Jesse Helms

The answer: Former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), in a recent interview with Business North Carolina magazine.

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