All across the land, standup comedians and political pundits are milking lots of humorous mileage out of legislatures in two states: New Mexico and Tennessee.
But there’s a marked difference in the source of this gaiety.
These people are laughing with creative lawmakers in New Mexico. But they’re laughing at the rubes from Tennessee.
New Mexico’s mirth stems from a bill that would make “roasting of green chiles in the fall” the official state aroma. Authored by Sen. William Soules, the proposal is a lighthearted effort to highlight a delightful seasonal scent.
If enacted, green chile roasting would join other bizarre New Mexico symbols. Such as the air balloon (official state aircraft) and the bolo tie (official state necktie.)
It’s not all fun and games. New Mexico prides itself as the “Chile Capitol of the World,” boasting an annual yield of 51,000 tons, worth $45 million.
New Mexico’s tourist season runs into October, the peak of the green chile season. A fiscal projection concluded the aroma designation “may have a positive, though difficult to calculate, impact” on drawing visitors into the state — especially those from Colorado, “which for some reason, thinks it has a green chile comparable to that of New Mexico.”
Furthermore, it would play off the “official state question” which — I’m not making this up — is, “Red or Green?” That's because red chile season and roasting is a summer affair.
(In case you’re wondering, the “official state answer” is, “Red AND Green, or Christmas.” Oh, those hilarious New Mexican solons.)
Which brings us to the derisive hee-haws directed at Tennessee.
First is the ban on drag queen shows. It went through the state House and Senate like a dose of salts and was immediately signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.
Sigh. Why do Tennessee lawmakers continually waste their time and our money running down sanctimonious rabbit holes like this?
Cross-dressing for theatrical effect, amateur and professional alike, has been going on since Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble exchanged party outfits with Fred and Barney. But for some reason, this type of political theater always gets top billing in Tennessee.
Even nuttier, and laughter-producing at Tennessee’s expense, is Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s social media banter with gay men. Innocent or intentional, this embarrassing exposure wound up in a knee-slapping skit on “Saturday Night Live.”
Perhaps our lawmakers should take a cue from their peers in New Mexico and spend their energies drafting an official state aroma. The methane effluvia from Tennessee cattle would be a great place to start.
Sam Venable’s column appears every Sunday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Sam Venable: Huge difference between laughing 'with' versus 'at'