Case vs. Akaka revisited: Conspiracy?
Today I was planning to write about an English bloke who was killed when he hit a badger riding his motorcycle. The first issue to sort out was who was actually riding the motorcycle, the bloke or the badger? Sometimes these wire reports from England suffer in translation. We truly are two countries separated by a common language. I would take a wild guess that the bloke was riding the motorcycle when he hit the badger, not the other way around. But why did the badger want to kill this chap? Was he a suicide badger? Was he seeking badger martyrdom? What is a badger, anyway? And why do humans find badgers -- the nonhomicidal ones, anyway -- so amusing?
Unfortunately, I can't write about badgers today. A query from a reader necessitates us taking another look at the U.S. Senate race involving Sen. Dan Akaka and Congressman Ed Case. (That's a bad segue, I know. And I'm not making any correlation between badgers and our esteemed political leaders.)
Last week, I suggested that Case must live a charmed life considering that in the middle of his campaign to unseat veteran Sen. Akaka, Time magazine suddenly comes out and names Akaka one of the worst senators in Congress. How lucky is that for young Case? Some Hawaii residents considered it quite tacky for Case to challenge fellow Democrat Akaka. So Case was walking a thin line trying to kick Akaka out of his job while showing respect for the elder statesman.
Then the Time magazine piece comes out branding Akaka as a dullard and something of a potted plant around the Senate chambers, a lawmaker who, despite decades in office, never seems to actually make laws. Case has got to be living a charmed life to become the beneficiary of such a timely and savage assault on his opponent by a major national magazine.
But a mainland reader of this column sees a darker side to this. He thinks the Time magazine piece could have been a setup. (I'm always amazed when readers turn out to be more conspiratorial than I am.)
David Tallant writes:
"Isn't Congressman Case's son, Steve Case, the former or current chairman of AOL Time Warner ... and its largest shareholder? Isn't there a very strong coincidence that Time magazine published an article slamming Sen. Akaka during the heat of an election race with Ed Case?"
Bravo, Mr. Tallant! You win the "Honolulu Lite" Vast Mainstream Media Conspiracy Award for April!
But let's get a few facts settled first. 1) Badgers don't ride motorcycles. Wait, wrong column. 1) Internet mogul Steve Case is Ed Case's cousin, not his son. Steve Case, a graduate of Punahou, founded America On Line and became a gazillionare. AOL merged with Time Warner, becoming a company so vast that I believe it created its own gravity. But, like Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts or Jessica Simpson and Nick Whatshisname, the AOL-Time Warner marriage was not to be. After the split, Steve Case stayed on Time Warner's board of directors for a while but eventually resigned. Nevertheless, he apparently continues to be one of Time Warner's largest shareholders, with more than $250 million in stock.
And since we all know that Time Warner owns Time magazine, you can see why Mr. Tallant's conspiracy radar goes off.
The question then is: 1) Do badgers ride motorcycles? Dang. I've got badgers on the brain. The question is: 1) Could the fact that Steve Case owns so much Time Warner stock and has a close historical relationship with Time magazine's parent company have anything to do with Time magazine suddenly branding the political opponent of Steve Case's cousin as one of the worst senators in the country?
Nah. I love a conspiracy as much as the next wacko, but come on. To believe that Time magazine would torpedo a sitting U.S. senator to the benefit of an obscure Hawaii congressman simply because the congressman's cousin owns a big chunk the company is as ridiculous as believing badgers can drive motorcycles. They can't, right?
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org