Larry Craig, Hall of Famer
Not even a sex-sting arrest and an on-again, off-again guilty plea can keep Idaho's senior senator from induction into the pantheon of Gem State greats.
His GOP colleagues in the U.S. Senate may wish him gone. But Larry Craig will always have a home in the Idaho Hall of Fame. This Saturday in Boise, Craig will join 11 other distinguished citizens of the Gem State in what promises to be a squirm-worthy induction ceremony. Since its creation in 1995, the Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization, has been honoring the state's leaders and historical figures—including World War II flying ace Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, actress Lana Turner and Sacagawea, the American Indian woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition. Organizers bristle at the suggestion that Craig should be disinvited following the uproar over his guilty plea for disorderly conduct in a restroom sex sting, and his refusal to resign from the Senate as he'd initially discussed—even after a Minneapolis judge last week rejected his motion to withdraw the guilty plea. "He was nominated well before this happened," says Hall of Fame president Charles Indermuehle. "We will have our dinner, and we're looking forward to it."
It may be the most determined culinary performance since Martha Stewart appeared on the CBS "Early Show" grimly chopping cabbage after she was indicted on federal charges of insider trading. "There are times when we've tried our damnedest to get some publicity," says Hall of Fame board member William Vaughn Jr., adding that the organization stuck with Craig because of his record representing Idaho in Congress for 27 years. "He sure as hell isn't being honored for the last few months," Vaughn says. "We try to look beyond personalities and look at the facts of what they've accomplished." Still, he admits it's hard not to cringe at reminders of Craig's newfound fame—such as the sticker he saw in a men's room during an out-of-state vacation proclaiming CRAIG WAS HERE. (The vote to include honorees in the Hall of Fame is made by a subcommittee of the board and then approved by the entire group. That process was completed before news of Craig's arrest was made public.)
Although the Hall of Fame is still trying to raise money to build a museum (one can only imagine the Craig exhibit), Saturday's ceremony, featuring a dinner, plaques and handshakes, promises to be exquisitely awkward. (Pre-printed invitations to the ceremony laud Craig's service this way: "Thirty years of exemplary political service to the State of Idaho and the country speaks for itself.") But while the late-night talk-show hosts sharpen their blades, and the blogs snicker about the "Idaho Hall of Shame," the humor is lost on others. "He seems to have the hide of a rhinoceros," says fellow honoree Arthur Hart, a Boise historian who plans to bring his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the ceremony. "I wish he wouldn't come. That isn't very nice for the rest of us."
While Idahoans are a forgiving—and stoic—lot, it has not been easy becoming the butt of a nation's jokes. A recent poll by local television station KIVI found that 51 percent of Idahoans oppose Craig's decision to stay in the Senate. Several of Craig's fellow hall-of-famers have become players the "will he or won't he?" resignation saga. Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter, who will also be inducted Saturday, scrambled to put together a list of replacements after Craig signaled his intention to resign. Otter, a fellow Republican who has said publicly "it would be best for Idaho" if Craig left the Senate, spent hours vetting potential candidates only to find out that there wouldn't be a vacancy after all. Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who plans to be right there gripping and grinning onstage, announced this week that he intends to run for Craig's seat—whether or not the incumbent is still in it—in next year's election. Declaring his candidacy, Risch acknowledged the "considerable personal suffering" Craig and his family have endured, but added, "it's really time for Idaho to move forward." Other nominees include local television news anchor Dee Sarton, who has been reporting the Craig scandal for months. One honoree who may have chosen the wisest course: Boise State football coach Chris Petersen, nominated for his role in leading the school's team to its 2006 Fiesta Bowl victory over the University of Oklahoma Sooners, can't make it, says a spokesman. He's got a game the next day.
whos next? ron "the hedgehog" jeremy? next time , just stick to potatoes.......
and in a related story.......
Sen. Craig to File Appeal Over Judge's Refusal to Withdraw Guilty Plea
BOISE, Idaho — Sen. Larry Craig says he will file an appeal Monday over a judge's refusal to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea stemming from his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.
In an interview Sunday with KTVB-TV, Craig repeated he will not resign his post in the Senate and said he will continue to work his legal options.
"It is my right to do what I'm doing," said Craig, an Idaho Republican. "I've already provided for Idaho certainty that Idaho needed — I'm not running for re-election. I'm no longer in the way. I am pursuing my constitutional rights."
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August after he was accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June.
After the matter became public, Craig tried to withdraw his plea. But a judge in Minnesota refused, saying Craig's plea "was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and ... supported by the evidence."
Tribe leader Chief Joseph, Coeur d'Alene writer and historian Louise Shadduck, World War II fighter ace Gregory "Pappy" Boyington and newspaper and hospitality magnate Duane Hagadone.