I’ve watched the animals in America’s political zoos most of my adult life. It’s not always a pleasant chore. Limited mostly to people who can eat sawdust without asking for water.

But sometimes, a “political” story comes along that’s so overpowering in sheer contradiction that it leaves the world of politics and even the non-wonk can share in the idiocy. This is one of those.

The inhabitants of the Idaho Legislature, like many counterparts in other states, have been embroiled in wasting taxpayer’s money trying to get out from our new federal law on health care. They tried to embark on a guaranteed-to-lose … but costly … action called “nullification.” That’s an attempt to override the powers of the U.S. Constitution so the state … in this case Idaho … can ignore the new law. Or, one would guess, any other federal statute local folks don’t like. A Senate committee of six wisely deep-sixed, this week, what the House had already passed overwhelmingly.

The concept of nullification succeeds only in the mind of the malcontent who refuses to check decisions of the U.S. Supreme court going back more than 200 years. Or, as in the case of Idaho, those who rise in debate to say “God is with us and might makes right.”

Now, here’s where those of us with a twisted sense of humor find the delight that keeps us coming back for more.

Remember, now, the state legislature has wasted a lot of time trying to get out from under a law it doesn’t like; a law laid down by a level of government one step up on the political food chain. The Feds. Alright. Here’s the next step.

The Idaho House Agricultural Committee is working on a bill dealing with expansion of feedlots for large cattle operations. You know, those huge muddy, smelly fenced fields where cattle are fattened up. Fed right into the old slaughterhouse.

While some of these super-size, hamburger-breeding factories are owned by a farmer or two, many of them belong to large corporate operations that run dozens or even hundreds of ‘em. So, when neighbors, and even communities, begin filing complaints about nasty smells and polluted waters, the big-city owners are far removed from the mess they’re making. Complaints are just a damned paperwork nuisance.

But the Idaho Legislature may turn a deaf ear … and a plugged nose … to the neighbors. And the communities. The Ag Committee bill would strengthen the Idaho Right To Farm Act. It would do so by shielding operators from complaints and even lawsuits. It would do so by … now wait … here it comes … are you ready … curtailing or even overriding local ordinances regulating feedlots.

In other words, a legislature trying to get out from under a federal law it doesn’t like is trying to put a law on the books to ignore or overrule local ordinances and laws it doesn’t like, either.

Imagine yourself a city council member or a county commissioner in a county befouled by these corporate burger operations. You want to do your duty but find you have no control over your own destiny because your friendly state government neutered your local laws.

There is yet another irony here. Many of Idaho’s legislators ran on the old, phony mantra of “get government out of our lives.” I call it phony because many of these same folks want government in the bedroom to be sure there are no abortions. They also want federal highways, water systems, airports, social security, medicare, etc. But that’s another thought for another day.

As a species, I rather enjoy the inhabitants of our political worlds. Most of ‘em. But there are a few … lately, more than a few … who have taken the absurd to new levels.

There are many serious things I could say at this moment about the volatile economic conditions of each state and our country at-large. I could wax eloquently about the need for common sense, compromise and the necessity for wiser heads to deal with our many troubles.

But you already know about that.

So … just for a few moment … let’s just sit and drink in the absurdity of another stirring political contradiction created in the minds of the denizens of the Idaho Statehouse and even the governor who you know will sign the feedlot bill if it makes it to his office. Let’s just enjoy a chuckle or two.

Because of the traditional seriousness of politics, we watchers of it don’t get many laughs. Lately, though, they’ve increased. A bunch.

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