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Pawlenty shocks Democrats

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Democratic legislative leaders thought relations with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty were going well.

Then he told a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce audience: "You don't celebrate getting out of Weight Watchers by going over to the all-you-can-eat buffet. So our message to the Legislature is: 'Push away from the table. Put your fork down.'"

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, was not laughing. A lot of people "might not be very happy with his analogy," Clark said.

A day before Pawlenty criticized Democrats for wanting to expand too many state programs, he met with legislative leaders in what Clark called "a mid-session temperature taking." She said the meeting was "very cordial."

'I'll show...'

Take it out of context and it might not sound good.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, delivered an "I'll show you yours if you show me mine" type of comment on the House floor Thursday.

But to be fair, rewind to earlier in the debate about his bill to require that all American flags be made in this country.

"As I was getting dressed, I made sure that everything I wore was made in the United States," he said.

He even made sure his $112 pair of shoes was American made. "I will be wearing those Red wing shoes in my casket."

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said he did not like Rukavina's bill, although he and other Republicans opposing it are just as patriotic as Rukavina.

The Virginia representative wanted to prove Seifert was not as patriotic, hinting that not everything Seifert wore is made domestically: "I will challenge you to show me all of your clothes today. I will show you mine."

Rukavina, part 2

Selling foreign-made American flags could bring penalties of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail under Rukavina's bill.

Several Republicans said that was too harsh for people selling flags at garage sales or for July 4 venders. One asked Rukavina what he would say to that.

Without missing a beat, Rukavina replied: "Book 'em, Danno!"

Rukavina, part 3

Minnesota Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, brought up an amendment to require lawmakers to own and drive only American-made cars if they voted for a bill mandating American flags be made in the United States.

Bill sponsor Rukavina asked Westrom a simple question: "What kind of car do you drive?"

That brought down the House, laughter interrupting work for several minutes.

Once laughter died down, Westrom replied: "Rep. Rukavina, I have never driven a foreign car."

Westrom is blind, and has a good sense of humor.

Don't leave

The struggle among Minnesota lawmakers for a piece of the budget pie can get competitive.

"Before I ran off and got married, our (budget) target was $40 million," Sen. Steve Murphy told his transportation finance committee Thursday about how much new revenue the panel would have available. "When I came back, it was zero."

Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, got married in Las Vegas.

State Capitol Bureau reporter Scott Wente contributed to this report.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.