March 5 - 6, 2005
It was just a little more than a week ago that Rep. Jim Gibbons apologized for having said that anyone who criticized the corporate-funded parties for President Bush's inauguration was a "communist." Well, just about the time the Reno Republican was trying to deflect attention away from that revealing remark, he found himself at the center of controversy again.
Several days ago it was disclosed that Gibbons, who is considering a run for governor in 2006, plagiarized a speech he gave in Elko a week ago for a Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner. Gibbons didn't tell his audience that the words weren't his. The author was Alabama state auditor Beth Chapman, whose work had been copyrighted. Such intellectual dishonesty is disturbing, especially for a member of Congress. Gibbons apologized, but he said that the speech accurately reflected his views. That doesn't make it any more comforting, though.
The Elko speech was replete with name-calling and questioned the patriotism of those who oppose the war in Iraq. To get an idea of Gibbons' thinking, consider the following passage from the speech: "How would he (Abraham Lincoln) feel, what would he be thinking about, all of the dissension, all of the division, that the liberals and a few others, including some of our movie stars and song makers, are trying to divide this country over its efforts to establish freedom and liberty in countries around the world? ... I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else." It's amazing that Gibbons, while talking about the need to establish freedom and liberty in other countries -- presumably that includes freedom of expression -- would in the same breath condem n Americans for exercising their free speech rights to condemn a war they believe is unjust.
His remarks of late tell us that Gibbons, who was first elected to Congress in 1996, has become part of the Washington crowd that believes trashing their political opponents is more important than reaching common ground to find solutions to some of our nation's most pressing problems. Such invective certainly is ill-suited for Nevada, especially for a person who aspires to be governor one day. Indeed, Gibbons stands in stark contrast to the two moderates who have been our governors during the past 16 years -- Republican Kenny Guinn and Democrat Bob Miller, both of whom have been praised for working well with, and reaching out to, those from the opposite party. (It's also instructive that Miller defeated Gibbons in a landslide in their race for governor in 1994.)
Instead of auditioning for governor of Nevada, Gibbons' fiery, caustic remarks lately would seem a better fit for somebody auditioning to be a right-wing radio talk show host. It's well over a year before serious campaigning begins, but Gibbons' recent actions are already calling into question his fitness for the highest office in the state of Nevada.