Ever since Pres. Bill Clinton conducted focus groups to determine where the First Family should vacation, the summer holiday activities of politicos have been the subject of scrutiny.
None of the vacations of our local leaders was as exclusive as Pres. Obama summering with the hoity-toity of Martha's Vineyard, but their responses to our inquiries did reveal some interesting vacation activities:
Sen. Orrin Hatch: "I find composing music very relaxing, so on my vacation, I wrote some new lyrics to the 1970s favorite 'Stayin' Alive.' It's a personal theme song for me, describing my life on so many levels. And if you like the song, you'll really love the YouTube video of me dancing to it — Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo."
Gov. Gary Herbert: "I come from a very talented family (especially the in-laws). We sing, we dance, we play sports. With all that talent in my genes, I'm a candidate for one of those celebrity dancing shows, so I practiced some dance routines on my vacation: 'Waltzing with the Tea Party,' the 'Anti-Immigration Twist,' the 'Veto Override Hustle,' the 'Liquor Department Hokey Pokey,' the 'Delegate Disco' and the 'GRAMA Quickstep.' And I still have to master the 'Jim Matheson Dodge.'"
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: "I spent a little time on the beach reading the book 'Tease' — which I thought was a manual on political tactics but turned out to be just a murder mystery. But for me, vacation equals media opportunities. While others are relaxing, I'm filling up those slow news days. I almost achieved the media quadruple crown: CNN, ABC This Week, and Fox News — all within 72 hours. I apologize for not quite making it. … I know how important this is to my constituents."
Rep. Rob Bishop: "This was a great summer. I was able to kick back, avoid the newsies and read the entire contents of 'Hind's Precedents'— A multi-volume study of the historical origins and evolution of House procedures dating back to 1789. Wow! It was almost as exciting as the Federalist Papers."
Sen. Mike Lee: "For relaxation, I memorized the U.S. Constitution — backwards. This was really enjoyable — and a little spooky. Those sneaky Founders hid away a few secrets, probably influenced by the Illuminati. Who would've guessed that if you read every third word of the Constitution in reverse order, you will have revealed an 18th century recipe for Bundt cake."
Utah Democratic strategists: "At the beginning of the summer, a number of fundamentalist Christians believed that the Rapture was about to occur. We spent our vacations joining in prayer and fasting, hoping for this event because we believe most people righteous enough to be translated into Heaven would be conservative Republican voters. This is our Victory Plan for 2012."
Utah Republicans: "We're a diverse group. Some of us spent time at the beach drawing lines in the sand. Those will be the new congressional boundaries. Others enjoyed time at a dude ranch, acting out roles in a cattle drive. We dressed up like Hereford steers and were herded about by tea party cowboys. Loads of fun. The rest of us took courses in emergency preparation. We see a big storm on the horizon called 'HB116 Backlash.'"
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker: "My administration had no vacation. We focused all of our efforts on the most important issue facing our city, our country and possibly the planet — automobile idling. Once we have eliminated this atrocious evil from our fair city, saving life as we know it, then I'll take a summer vacation."
Rep. Jim Matheson: "I like advanced technology, so I developed a new iPhone app, 'The Choices Ahead.' You plug in redistricting data, past election results and approval ratings, and it tells you whether to run for Congress, the Senate or for governor. It's a little better than throwing darts, blindfolded."
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon: "I was commissioned to write one of those yellow 'Dummies' books. My topic is, 'Dos and Don'ts for Creating a Positive Political Legacy for Dummies.' Dos: Clean up county government and fight tax dollars for soccer arenas. Don'ts: Avoid imposing a new police fee and stay away from negative campaigning."
West Valley Mayor Mike Winder: "I relaxed and read the political classic 'Blind Ambition,' by John Dean. I'm amazed and disappointed at ambitious, power-hungry politicians who use their current position as a springboard to higher office."
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff: "Hey, I didn't just beat the big C, I kicked the tar out of it. You can't have a better summer than that."
Jon Huntsman: "My summer of campaigning didn't go so well, but if this presidential candidate gig doesn't work out, I can make a good living modeling checked shirts."
Mitt Romney: "It was a fairly relaxing summer until the cowboy from Texas surged ahead of me in the polls. Thank goodness he's another George W. Bush — only without the brains."
Frank: "I spent the summer predicting, accurately, I might add, that Jason Chaffetz wouldn't run for the Senate — along with schmoozing, wining, dining and kowtowing (also called lobbying) politicians. Oh, and did I mention that I predicted that Jason Chaffetz wouldn't run for the Senate?"
LaVarr: It was an educational vacation for me. I honed my campaign strategy skills by watching Napoleon Dynamite over and over again. I'm still not sure how Pedro got elected.
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: email@example.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org