Being a political satirist in Utah is like hunting inside a game preserve, radio personality and commentator Tom Barberi told Davis County Democrats Friday night.
"There's just so much material out there, especially when the Legislature is in session. It's so easy," Barberi told the Democrats, holding their first awards banquet.Barberi was keynote speaker for the event, which drew about 100 people, including a few Republicans.
The long-running morning radio personality said he was somewhat surprised to learn there were any Democrats in Davis County, much less the number that gathered in the Syracuse Lions social club for the party's awards dinner.
"I was talking to Wayne Owens the other day about his plan to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone Park and suggested he try introducing some Democrats to Davis County as practice," Barberi said. "He told me he can't do everything, he's only human."
Politicians have been inviting targets for the two decades he's been on the air on KALL Radio, Barberi said, running down a brief list of those he's skewered in the past.
Barberi noted his campaign to legalize adulthood in the state, as he terms it, is "inching forward, glacially, but I think this last session of the Legislature set it back two steps."
Passage of the abortion bill, called the toughest in the nation, was not only unnecessary but may be counterproductive to the state's efforts to land the 1996 Winter Games bid, he said.
Lawmakers should have let another state lead out on the issue, he said. The law only brings the state publicity on the national and even international level that harms its image, he said.
Barberi predicted the upcoming governor's race will be "really interesting. We've got all kinds of people jockeying for position right now. It's going to be a free-for-all, a real mudwrestle."
His observations on some potential candidates:
- Lt. Gov. Val Oveson: "Val. He goes in Norm's office when the governor's not there and plays. He bounces in the chair, he bangs the gavel on the desk. Mention the governor's job to him and his eyes glaze over, he drools."
- GOP party leader Craig Moody: "You mean Slick? He might be able to do it if he could grow into his own ego. I love interviewing Craig on the show. He's a young Norm Bangerter but not as smart."
- Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis: "What a strange little scenario. Right here in the middle of this state that's billed as the most Republican in the country, we have a little Italian guy, a Democrat, a former Jesuit priest candidate, as the mayor of the capital city. He sneaked in."
- Rep. Jim Hansen: "He makes Howard Nielson look credible. I'm amazed he can do so little and get so many votes."
- Himself: "Absolutely not. There's no way I'd put myself in the position where some idiot on the radio can make fun of everything I do."
Noting the state's senators evened the score with him a couple of years ago by making him an honorary Utah senator, Barberi conceded that "individually, they have a pretty good sense of humor. But collectively, they're dangerous."