Search­ing for the ‘Luv Gov.’s’ legacy

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEW­POINTS -

Well, folks, let’s put the fi­nal coup de grace to the Robert Bent­ley six year Gov­er­nor’s reign and move on. Ole Bent­ley was quite a story his last two years. He had be­come the ring­leader of a cir­cus and an in­fa­mous na­tional car­toon char­ac­ter. The sala­cious and lurid de­tails of his af­fair with Mrs. Re­bekah Ma­son were a never end­ing, tit­il­lat­ing saga. The story, along with his pic­ture, could aptly be a plot for a tabloid or a Soap Opera. I will ac­tu­ally be sur­prised if it does not make it to tele­vi­sion or even the movies.

Un­for­tu­nately, this story will be his legacy as gov­er­nor. He has no pub­lic pol­icy ini­tia­tives to tout for pos­ter­ity. He will be known as the “Luv Gov.”

Our last two gov­er­nors may not have gone to jail like pre­vi­ous ones, but they gar­nered ter­rific nick­names for their ex­ploits over their last year in of­fice.

Bob Ri­ley spent his last year do­ing the bid­ding of the In­dian Gam­bling syn­di­cate and his cow­boy and In­dian es­capades clos­ing down all the non-In­dian casi­nos earned him the nick­name of “Bingo Bob.”

Ole Bent­ley, who ap­peared to be the least likely per­son to play the part, be­came a sex crazed phi­lan­derer. His and Re­bekah’s sor­did ro­mance tapes sounded like the x-rated ver­sion of Bar­ney Fife sweet talk­ing Thelma Lou. Even the na­tional me­dia dubbed him the “Luv Gov.”

Bent­ley never re­ally showed any gen­uine re­morse or con­tri­tion. Even when he read his pre­pared res­ig­na­tion speech, it did not seem heart­felt or sin­cere. They were just words wrapped in re­li­gion. He never seemed to apol­o­gize from the heart. He still seemed a lit­tle bit haughty.

Hav­ing taught Sun­day school for many years, one would have thought Bent­ley had taught some from the book of Proverbs. One of Solomon’s great­est proverbs says, “Pride goeth be­fore a fall.”

Early in the day of Bent­ley’s res­ig­na­tion, I was walk­ing around the Capi­tol with ru­mors swirling that Bent­ley’s demise was im­mi­nent at any time. I was wish­ing the best for ole Bent­ley. I thought about ole Big Jim Fol­som stand­ing on the Capi­tol steps when the press would pound on him and ask him to re­sign. He would say to them, “Y’all ain’t gonna get old Big Jim to quit. When I was a boy, grow­ing up in Cof­fee County my old pappy would make me get out of bed be­fore day­light and go work in the fields chop­ping cot­ton and plow­ing be­hind a mule. I’d see a rain cloud come up and start pray­ing for rain so I could quit for a while. My pappy would say boy it may cloud up but it ain’t gonna rain on Big Jim.”

Well, bless his heart, it did rain on Bent­ley. He’s gone. Kay Ivey will serve out the re­main­ing 19 months of his term. She may de­cide to run for a full term of her own as gov­er­nor. As the in­cum­bent gov­er­nor, she would be a vi­able can­di­date.

There is an ever-grow­ing list of po­ten­tial and prob­a­ble horses that are gear­ing up for the 2018 gu­ber­na­to­rial derby. The list of vi­able can­di­dates is at about a dozen.

How­ever, let me tell you again, like I have been telling you for years, Alabami­ans like to vote for a dark horse for gov­er­nor — one who has not been around the po­lit­i­cal track. Let me give you the names of two very rich busi­ness­men who could pull off a Fob James 1978 like coup.

Jimmy Rane, known as “Yella Fella” from his ads of rid­ing a horse and wear­ing a big yel­low hat ad­ver­tis­ing his yel­low lum­ber, started out and built Great South­ern Wood out of Abbeville where he was born and raised and still calls home. Forbes magazine has his net worth at $600 mil­lion.

Johnny Johns be­came CEO of Birm­ing­ham based Pro­tec­tive Life at a young age. He built the com­pany started by Colonel Rush­ton into one of the largest life in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in the world. When an in­ter­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion bought Pro­tec­tive sev­eral years ago, Johnny walked away with $300 mil­lion. He is known through­out Birm­ing­ham as one of the most civic minded peo­ple in the Magic City.

Ei­ther one of these two dis­tin­guished gen­tle­men could eas­ily buy the gov­er­nor’s of­fice with their pocket change and they may be in­ter­ested.

Steve Flow­ers is Alabama’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal colum­nist. His weekly col­umn ap­pears in over 60 Alabama news­pa­pers. He served 16 years in the state leg­is­la­ture. Steve may be reached at www.steve­flow­

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