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You’ll Know Us By the Sound of How We Pronounce Missouri

Stop me if you haven’t heard this before — Missouri is the Show-Me State.

It’s our motto of sorts, conveying that Missourians are a “don’t talk about it, be about it” people. Of course, if you ask most Missourians I’m not a real Missourian because I’m from the “Sodom and Gomorrah” of the Mississippi River. From your most Catholic American city outside of New Orleans, La. and Boston, Mass. — St. Louis.

I’m a St. Louisan, which is not one-in-the-same with being “Missourian.” For one, a lot of us insist on pronouncing Missouri “Missoureee,” proving how questionable we are.

St. Louis and Kansas City have all the money, sports teams, corporations and racial tensions of any mid-to-large sized Midwestern city, but the real Missouri (which is pronounced “Missourah” there), runs the state. Former St. Louis Mayor Vince Schoemehl’s dreams of being mayor were destroyed in 1992 when he referred to his Democratic rival, country dweller Mel Carnahan, as the Redneck from Rolla. Schoemehl, an idiot, forgot that the vast majority of the Missouri voting public were from small towns like Rolla and were, quite proudly, Rednecks, but didn’t appreciate some big city Liberal flinging it around like the N-word.

Carnahan became our governor for two terms, only later to die tragically in an aviation accident a few weeks before the 2000 senate election. In death, Carnahan went on to beat “Let the Eagle’s Soar” singer/songwriter, Republican (and former Missouri governor) John Ashcroft, who, for not bitching too much about the loss, was rewarded with being named Attorney General of the United States.

You may remember him from such hits as “The Patriot Act” and the weakening the First and Fourth Amendments.

But politically, this is the environment of Missouri. KC partisans to the left of me, St. Louis Liberals to the right and here I am, stuck in the backwoods with you …

Despite this ideological divide, Missourians and Missou-rahans can join together on things like getting a presidential or vice presidential debate. Washington University in St. Louis, our most prestigious private university in the state is playing host. Somehow the university has managed to snag one of these high profile debates every four years since 1992. This vice presidential debate, about to start in less than two hours central time (it’s about 6 p.m. now), will finally end one level of ridiculousness before moving us on to the next.

Wednesday, Chris Matthews actually carried on a discussion as to whether or not Joe Biden should pull out Sarah Palin’s chair for her — even though both will be standing during this debate. Right now, commercials are airing attacking either Palin or John McCain’s judgment in picking Palin and both in terms I would describe as cruel and crueler.

The first, repeatedly shown on CNN featured footage of aeral wolf hunts, essentially making the accusation that Palin is a cruel wolf killing, animal hater (Defender of Wildlife Action Fund). The second was borderline inappropriate if only because it featured a power ballad with the chorus “One Heartbeat Away,” damning headlines about Palin’s controversial decisions as mayor and governor with an image of a steadily fading away McCain as a heart monitor flatlines (CA Nurses Association). I’m against McCain, but a flatline? Really? The song’s catchy and funny, if it were a skit on Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show, but as a campaign ad?

I’m guessing that ad will probably be pulled come the next few days.

I don’t know how Missouri is going to go in the election. The race is close here, but some pundits are putting us in Barack Obama’s column even though I still think we’re still a toss-up. Missouri tends to pick the winner because we’re a bellwether state. We go as the country goes. But as with Schoemehl, I hope everyone, from Biden to the surrogates to Obama himself, stay away from accidentally insulting an entire subgroup of people in an effort to get one over on their opponent. I want people to be hard-hitting, but not ignorantly swinging away. Especially when they’re technically in the lead.

I don’t expect Biden to call Palin the Redneck from Wasilla. But Palin could also stand to avoid heading down the well worn path of snide and divide if only because as a St. Louisan who gets tired of being lambasted for the audacity of being multicultural, “different” and “not one of us.” I get tired of hearing intelligence and exceptionalism bashed, along with any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus (and I love Jesus, but it’s not necessary to be jerks). I don’t need another us against them, I’m a real American because I shop at Wal-Mart and you aren’t because you like Target. It’s incredibly dumb. But I know why people do this because it is easier to play to the lowest of human nature, to our lizard, primate brains, than to appeal to any sort of log
ic or critical thinking.

We say we’re from the “show me state,” but our criticizes will gladly — like all Americans — take the lazy route and just say, “tell me.” Tell me exactly what I want to hear.

I’ll be watching for sport. Not for knowledge, but I do love a good fight. It’ll either be dull as dirt or highly insane.

Here’s one vote for chaos.

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One thought on “You’ll Know Us By the Sound of How We Pronounce Missouri

  1. I’ve been to Missouri many times and I can’t say I remember a whole lot about it. I often got lost on that tricky Missouri/Kansas border. MO isn’t as dull as Kansas and not as hot as Texas, and it did give us Harry Truman, and one day a big earthquake is supposed to strike there, and it’s kinda southern and kinda mid-west, and I don’t think I would want to live there. Then again, I’m looking forward to moving out of North Carolina whenever I get the chance. I feel ya, Missourians. Just joking. At least it’s not the brunt of jokes like New Joisey. It gave us a complex years ago.

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