Jack Ohman

Meeting lobbyists: Sacramento's cool kids

One of the fascinating aspects of editorial cartooning--besides my really long conversations about different types of pens--are my occasional interactions with the public.

In Sacramento, the public includes lobbyists.

In fact, it seems that virtually every time I meet anyone anywhere, they're a lobbyist.

In Oregon, they mostly seemed to be the Governmental Affairs Director (so sanitary-sounding) for the Oregon Confederation of Coniferous Tree Growers. You had to go down to Salem to see any of them, and that usually would be when I needed to take a rest stop on I-5.

Sacramento's lobbyists all look like NewsCenter anchors. Life's genetically beautiful winners, they exude height, teeth, brains, and charm. If any of them have any problems in life, they are obliterated by their breathtaking pulchritude and microscopic knowledge of California tax law.

The men are all obvious former tennis team captains and wide receivers, the women all statewide debate champions and 100 yard dash record-holders. None of them seem to smoke, have crummy smiles, or walk less than 5000 steps per day.

1960s lobbyists were all stinky alcoholic hucksters from state schools in the midwest (dropped out to work on a Chicago alderman campaign), and 21st century lobbyists are people who could just as well be Olympic javelin throwers with Yale undergrad/Stanford law degrees.  

The one thing that seems to divide the lobbyists here is the Moral Relativity Quotient of who they represent. The wages of sin are fabulous for the satanic groups. While underpaid, lobbyists for groups like the California Association of Helping Children Grow Up Healthy and Good At Math are always chirpy and engaging, like really motivated 23 year old elementary school teachers. The lobbyists for the California Freedom of Choice Coalition For Tobacco-based Nuclear Waste Gasoline Additives seem more subdued, and look down ever so briefly when asked who they work for, their shiny shoes reflecting the slight shame in their face. Then they look up with gleaming teeth, recovering their composure, and offer to buy you drinks, cigars, dinner, upper-end cars, yachts over 50 feet, European vacations, precious metals, and will introduce you to the latest Hollywood actress named Jennifer.

I look forward to meeting more lobbyists. I am not for sale.

Unless you give me a really nice pen.