This column firmly upholds the notion that people's private lives are their own business. But when people make a business out of telling other people how to live their private lives, they make their own foibles fair game.
With that said, we thought you should be privy to the gossip buzzing at the State House these days. Democrats, Republicans and Christian Coalition sorts alike have heard the story about Mary Wood Beasley pushing her way past the SLED security detail to get into her husband's office recently.
Rumor has it that the first lady caught the governor in an up-close and personal situation with his communications director, Ginny Wolfe.
As preposterous as it seems for the governor to revert to his pre-married, pre-Republican, pre-born-again philandering ways with a married woman at the office, there has been enough smoke to cause some folks of fundamentalist persuasion to assert, "All is not well in the Beasley household."
A check of the governor's travel records indicates that before Ginny was communications director Beasley took most of his out-of-state trips with his press secretary, Ginny Wolfe. Since Robyn Zimmerman became press secretary in September 1995, Beasley's most frequent traveling companion has been his communications director, Ginny Wolfe.
A former Beasley staffer expressed no surprise at the allegations that the relationship between David and Ginny was closer than the office requires (or that "family values" allow).
"As a woman," our source confided, "I noticed the short leather skirts and fishnet stockings that Ginny wore to work as indicative of the way she related to the boss."
Sec. of State Jim Miles isn't running against Strom Thurmond, but he apparently isn't doing enough to keep his troops in line.
Tony Denny, the senior senator's campaign manager, made a recent trip to Miles' office to complain that Miles' first string was off sides.
It seems that Miles' closest supporters have thrown in with the campaign of Harold Worley, the Myrtle Beach businessman and state representative running against Thurmond for the Republican nomination.
Michael Graham, former Miles' public relations flack, is managing Worley's campaign. Graham, who views politics as a blood sport, is helping produce campaign ads that boldly mention the fact that Thurmond is actually a very old man.
Miles' former assistant and advisor, and current chair of the Horry County Republican Party, Lois Eargle, has endorsed Worley, and Miles' attorney Christian Adams has a Worley bumper sticker on his car.
Miles listened to Denny's litany of complaints and said, "I want to tell you one thing. This is America, and my people can do what they want."
Meanwhile, Miles continues to pay rent on an office for his Campaign '98 office for a Senate bid against Fritz Hollings. Worley's campaign office is on the next floor.
Gov. Beasley told House Republicans on May 28 that, "More has happened good in these last two years than probably has happened in the last two centuries in state government."
Beasley was obviously referring to benefits accrued to white, middle-class, male homophobes who don't breathe air or drink water.
Upstate Democrats in the Fourth Congressional District hope that their candidate to replace congressperson Bob Inglis will do more to support family values and a healthy national defense than the incumbent.
The recent newsletter of the Greenville Democratic Party characterized Inglis as a drum major in the military band of "Newtie and the Blowhards."
"I did not spend 20 years in the Marines, with tours in Korea and Vietnam, to sit back and watch men like Newt and Inglis sit back and listen to nonveterans like Rush Limbaugh tell half-truths about good Americans and simply do nothing," said Democratic candidate Darrell Curry.
Inglis, who never served in the military, voted to give the Pentagon $6 billion more than it requested while opposing a minimum wage increase and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Analogies to Nazi Germany are rampant in the Upstate in the wake of Spartanburg and Greenville county councils' resolutions condemning "gay lifestyles."
While the Spartanburg Council reversed its decision, Council Chairman David Dennis plans to bring the resolution back up. Dennis has been conferring with the Colorado-based evangelical group Focus on the Family. The group's big cheese, James Dobson, can be heard several times a day on WIS radio in Columbia. WIS is owned by the Greenville-based conservative Liberty Corporation.
Anonymous flyers were distributed in Greenville after the ordinance passed ordering "gays to report to the County Court House to be issued pink triangles." The triangles, like the ones used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals, "are to be worn by all gays between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight."
A volunteer at the Greenville County Democratic headquarters said, "We have gotten dozens of calls from people who identified themselves as former Republicans.' They are angry and frightened at what is happening. One man told me he was a life long Republican, but no more.'
"This is really going to turn out to be a positive development," the Democrat said. "The religious fanatics need mainstream Republican support to hold onto power, and they are scaring them off."
When the votes in the Senate were running against him in the debate over barring felons from office, Sen. Kay Patterson (D-Richland) called on the Lord.
"I don't know," Patterson said during an hour-long assault on the bill, "but I'm pretty sure the Lord would not prohibit felons from running."
Many legislators who support the bill privately agree with Patterson that the amendment is not necessary. It's possible that the known felon on the ballot might be the lesser of evils and that voters don't need a constitutional amendment to make their decision.
After the debate, Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) defended his title as the stupidest senator by saying, "Joe Neal's in trouble now. He's a great legislator, but people don't like to be told what to do."
Ford was referring to Neal's primary race against Lost Trust felon Jim Faber. Ford's view is that voters in District 70 will choose a felon if they are told they won't be able to do so in the future.
Despite Ford's unfortunate remarks, we agree with his opposition to the bill. Voters already get to decide if they want to elect former felons. This proposal is simply more posturing by legislators concerned that the voters can't tell who the real crooks are.
While it appears that legislators are not going to let motorists increase their speed on the state's highways, the DHEC Board has decided to let the Laidlaw toxic waste incinerator increase the amount of mercury it can dump in the North Tyger River.
The company faces a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for dumping illegal amounts of mercury in the river, but the Board's decision may help get it off the hook.
Mercury is a long-lasting heavy metal that causes serious health problems.
While the Board left in place monthly mercury limits, they increased by a factor of eight the daily amount of mercury the company can discharge. "Our position," said DHEC Board Chair John Burriss, "has been that we were really, in effect, lowering the standard."
Environmentalists and area residents who have been fighting to get the plant under control for years question Burriss' logic. The new ruling will allow the plant to burn more toxic waste, make more money and release more toxins into the en vironment.
Next time you get pulled for doing eight times the speed limit, try the DHEC Board's rationle on the highway patrol officer. "This was just a temporary increase in my speed, Officer. My monthly average will be 65 miles an hour."
This month's sleazeball tried to block the Rural Development Act because it contains a clause that calls for a privately financed monument to African Americans on the State House grounds. In an attempt to derail the legislation, this Republican House member offered amendments to build monuments for every ethnic group and nationality he could think of. He claimed that only a "racist" could support a monument for blacks but not other ethnic groups.
Be the first caller to identify this sleazebag and win a free trial subscription to POINT.