Tea party, our foot
We've suspected the Tea Partyers of consuming stronger beverages off-camera, and Rep. Mark Biviano of Searcy, a T.P. darling, lends support to our belief, if unintentionally. It was not tea that was served at a social event Biviano attended just before he was involved in a traffic accident in downtown Little Rock. (Whether he caused the accident, as the other party says, has not been officially determined, in part because Biviano skipped out before any police arrived. But his insurance company is paying for damage to the other vehicle. Do the math.) Biviano had been at what was billed as a "Bourbon and Bacon" affair, during which these products were celebrated and, as we understand it, ingested. He left the Capitol Hotel, got into his pickup and, according to a woman who was driving down Markham Street, pulled away from the curb and rammed into her car. Biviano says she struck him, although she's not the one who fled the scene. Biviano also says he gave her a business card before driving off. She says he provided no information, but she wrote down the number of his "Arkansas legislator" license plate. Her husband later determined who the plate belonged to and called Biviano. No charges were filed by the police, though their original report called the incident a "hit and run."
Who knows what officers might have found had Biviano not been so eager to avoid them? But whatever happened that night, Biviano sounded like a man well under the influence of something when he gave an interview to his local newspaper days after the incident had been reported. He said that allegations he wrongfully left the scene were part of a political vendetta against him by unnamed Democratic leaders because of his opposition to health-care reform. President Obama has not responded to Biviano's remarks, but Governor Beebe said through a spokesman that the governor was not part of an anti-Biviano vendetta and hadn't even known of Biviano's accident until he read about it in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, more than a month after it happened. "The ability to connect a minor car accident to a health-care debate requires a mind for conspiracy that we do not possess," the spokesman said.
It's possible that both a mind for conspiracy and a taste for bourbon are required. The driver of the other car said she was no vendettist either, and was in fact a Republican. We're reminded that another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Bruce Holland of Greenwood, is awaiting trial on charges of fleeing a deputy sheriff at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour. Evidently, Republican legislators and law enforcement don't mix.