Politics & Other Mistakes: The beer that wasn’t and other useless information

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It’s too hot. There’s no way I’m working hard this week. (Technically speaking, there’s no way I work hard any week, but when the temperature hits 90, I’m more forthcoming about my deficiencies.) That means this column was composed with minimal effort and features nothing but trivial matters.

• In Brunswick recently, I spotted a bumper sticker that summed up this horrifying campaign season.

It read, “Vote Yes On No!”

I’m either totally on board with that or completely opposed. It’s the most politically committed I’ve felt in years.

• Ireland-born Maine novelist John Connolly has a new supernatural thriller called “The Woman In The Woods,” starring private investigator Charlie Parker and featuring a mention of somebody named “Al Diamon,” who is absolutely critical to the plot, even though he only appears on one page midway through the book. According to Connolly, this “Diamon” is the state’s “crankiest” political commentator.

“Like the Duc de Saint-Simon in the court of the Sun King,” writes Connolly, “it was probably not a question of whether Al Diamon was annoyed on any given day, but simply with whom Al Diamon happened to be annoyed.”

Even though the story is packed with otherworldly elements, the only part I found hard to believe is when Parker and his lawyer got into Bayou Kitchen in Portland without waiting in line.

• Speaking of annoying, let’s check out who’s running for attorney general, a post that’ll be filled by the majority party in the Legislature after the next election. OK, since you don’t have a vote, you don’t actually give a damn. But the Bangor Daily News was thoughtful enough to list potential contenders, so pretend to be interested.

For the Democrats, the growing field includes failed gubernatorial candidate Sen. Mark Dion of Portland; Tim Shannon, Portland lawyer and otherwise obscure party activist; Maeghan Maloney, district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties; Sen. Mike Carpenter of Houlton, a former AG, and state Rep. Aaron Frey of Bangor, the most important legislator nobody ever heard of. And there’s always the terrifying possibility that if current AG Janet Mills isn’t elected governor, she might try to hold onto the job.

On the Republican side, lobbyist and former legislator Joshua Tardy has been a sacrificial lamb before and might be again. But retiring Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta would be a serious possibility in the unlikely event the GOP wins a majority.

• My wife has often suggested I start drinking “in moderation,” so I went to check out a brew pub in Brunswick called Moderation Brewing to see if I could experience that sensation both literally and figuratively.

Moderation (the pub, not the questionable concept) is co-owned by Democratic state Rep. Mattie Daughtry, who combines excellent brewing skills with a sharp political wit. Daughtry told me she’d recently run afoul of an obscure Maine law.

Daughtry was attempting to gain approval for the label of a beer to be named “Sine Die,” which is Latin for “without day,” the phrase the Legislature uses when it adjourns for good. She described the brew as “starting off with a bit of sweetness, giving way to considerable complexity and having a long bitter finish.”

An apt metaphor for the legislative process.

In addition to the beer’s name, the label featured a drawing of the Statehouse, and that caused the bureaucrat in charge of label approvals (yep, our tax dollars are actually paying for that) to reject Daughtry’s application pointing to an obscure provision buried in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 28A, section 6, paragraph 3, deck 5, row 7, seat 10. It states:

“No person may use or display a picture or other form of representation of the Statehouse for the advertising of liquor.”

I’m pretty sure no other building in Maine enjoys a similar level of legal protection from purveyors of intoxicating spirits. This law does, however, leave open the possibility that some entrepreneur could trademark such products as Statehouse Rat Poison, Capitol Enemas or Dome of Maine Blood Worms.

The statute also raises this question: What happened in the 1980s, when this measure was approved, that prompted our elected leaders to decide they needed to forestall the possibility of someone proposing a beer label depicting the noble edifice where they performed their public service? Back then, Maine only had a couple of breweries, and their labels showed inoffensive images like lobsters and schooners.

Answering that would require research, which is a lot like work, so forget it. Instead, I’ll chalk this law up to that wonderful Maine political tradition of irrationality.

Does that seem cranky?

When it cools off, email comments to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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