Man of La Mancha, Wisconsin
by Bill Walker
by Bill Walker
My last dose of The Virtue Of Selfishness having worn off (they only provide immunity for 20 years; don't forget your booster), I agreed to review a documentary video. Without any payola. What the heck was in that Dove Bar? Oh yeah, theobromine.
A Remarkable Man is the $16.95 story (ouch! I thought the web was going to make obscure video cheap?) of Ed Thompson, Tommy Thompson's more honest younger brother.
Having spent his youth in Toughman contests, you would think that the concussions would have properly prepared Ed for a political career. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have retained plenty of IQ, and he went into business instead. He opened the Tee Pee Supper Club in El Toboso… no, I mean Tomah, Wisconsin. He served spare ribs and ethanol, and put in a few video poker machines.
Then one day, the District Attorney decided to raid all the small gambling establishments in Wisconsin (not the big Indian casinos which Ed points out are only 50 miles from Tomah, just the little taverns and other places not up to hiring Abramoff or his ilk). Ed found his Friday night restaurant receipts confiscated, and faced the threat of 8 years in prison. A lesser man would have taken the proffered plea bargain and gotten back to feeding his family. Ed decided to fight.
First, he defeated the initial charge of illegal gambling. He never claimed to be anything but guilty, but it seems that no jury in Tomah would convict him. Note to other prospective libertarian troublemakers: reading to senior citizens pays off. Note to prospective troublemaking jurors: for Pete's sake, don't ADMIT that you know about FIJA: the cursed prosecutor will just look for more pliable jurors.
Following this victory, he took vengeance on the District Attorney, finding and funding an opponent to defeat him in the primary. The most touching moment in the film is the scene where the former DA talks about losing the only job he ever loved: that of persecuting his fellow citizens for victimless "crimes" like owning video poker machines.
Finding that door-to-door politics was easy for a tavern owner who controlled the massive Alcoholic Bloc, Ed climbed down the political ladder to become mayor of Tomah. He privatized a couple of things and paid off the city's SuperFund obligation. Then, mad with power, he ran for governor… as a Libertarian.
I won't spoil the ending for you… I can't, you already know he loses miserably with 10.5% of the vote. There is much whining about how he was outspent… of course he was outspent, be wasn't promising to give anyone any subsidies. In the advance auction of stolen goods, you have to be the high bidder.
Is this video worth the money? Sure! If it will talk you into spending your efforts on getting rich through business or legitimate, profitable political corruption instead of wasting your family's livelihood on "idealistic" democratic politics, it's worth ten times the price. (I should know; my wife got nearly three times Thompson's vote total when she ran for state rep as a Libertarian in Dallas, Texas).
There's a moral here: if you're going to tilt at windmills, make sure you get more footage of the battle scenes. This video would sell a lot better with some images of black-clad donut-eaters grabbing all the cash out of Ed's till. And they should have ended with a musical number; "To Dream The Impossible Dream" might be cheap to license. ~ "Sancho" Walker
May 23, 2006
Bill Walker [send him mail] works in HIV and gene therapy research in Rochester, Minnesota.
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