Paul Davis — cueing up the ‘Rocky’ theme
Somewhere recently, most probably in a rink in Paul Davis’s district of TopsailParadise, a young hockey player may have shed a tear of hope when he heard his hero had uttered words that reverberated throughout the province: “Never say never.”
Yes, for sure, adult voters may have taken to the streets in exuberant celebration when Davis — former cop, former premier, now the lame duck Tory leader — responded to the latest political polls by suggesting that maybe, just maybe, he might have a change of mind about his pending resignation and actually be a candidate for the PC leadership whenever his party gets its act together and organizes a convention.
But it was the kid whose heart swelled when the news spread like wildfire throughout the province.
Surely, you remember that young fella. Davis, his voice breaking, told a story during a leaders debate that, as I mentioned at the time, sounded like a scene out of one of those maudlin (but slick and effective) videos produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints crowd, public relations messages on behalf of the Higher Power designed for the spiritual seduction of soulless sinners.
The hockey player, whom Davis probably wanted us to imagine had red hair and freckles, spoke with a charmingly thick Newfoundland brogue, and made appearances in tourism ads, those brightly coloured television productions where all the participants — the children running through the fields, the horses, even the whales — move in super slow motion, and he always made sure he sat next to his favourite politician.
(By the way: perhaps the spin doctors with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Newfoundland Tourism Department of Dwight Ball’s administration should join forces to spread the word: the Lord Loves Liberals).
And why, we all wondered at the time of the debate (with bated breath), did the lonely kid sit next to the politician? Because, as Davis told us, the youngster knew that Davis would always help tie up his skates. That’s why.
It was Davis’s way of delivering an awkward illustration of the deep and profound goodness he feels exists in each and every Newfoundlander, but it constituted a moment when most viewers undoubtedly shuffled their feet, or looked away, praying for the story to end. (Although for the scattered voter in his cups that night, the sappy tale may have brought on a crying jag, a torrent of beer tears).
As our journalism files now tell us, the yarn and everything else Davis uttered that night, and throughout the campaign, for that matter, fell on mostly deaf ears, and Dwight Ball went on to a predictable win in the provincial election.
But, hey, as Davis implied last week, he may actually take another shot at being the premier, given those polls showing the Tories ahead of the Liberals (and the NDP in their traditional third-place slot).
Even if the year he spent in the premier’s office — put there, you might recall, by a handful of PC delegates, representing a miniscule percentage of the voting population — did not exactly prompt a rewrite of political history in Newfoundland, Davis can always dream of a comeback, especially when his successor, Disastrous Dwight, continues his downward plunge in popularity.
But it reminds me of the sort of long shot made famous in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”
(If you’re cruel of spirit, unlike yours truly, you can take time here to place Davis and Ball in the titular roles; Earle McCurdy, of course, and past NDP leaders, haven’t been given an opportunity to play either Dumb or Dumber, Newfoundland voters content since Confederation, masochistically so, to repetitively place the Tories and the Grits in power; you’d think, at some point, Newfoundlanders would give the NDP a governing mandate, even to screw up, to act dumb or dumber).
Anyway, I’ve wandered, as usual. Getting back to “Dumb and Dumber,” the character, Lloyd, played by Jim Carrey (Davis, in your local playbill) is wondering about his chances to get it on with a woman he’s got the hots for (the Newfoundland electorate).
Lloyd (Davis): I’m gonna ask you something flat out and I want you to answer me honestly: what do you think the chances are of a girl like you (Newfoundland) and a guy like me (Davis) ending up together? Come on, give it to me straight. What are my chances?”
Girl (Newfoundland): “Not good.” Lloyd (Davis): “You mean, not good, as one in a hundred.”
Girl (Newfoundland): “I’d say more like one in a million.”
Lloyd (Davis): “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
He leaps joyfully and optimistically in the air, as does, in a locally adapted scene stealer, the little kid at the rink.