Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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Take Gibbons’ phone, please

"The parties have agreed that there will be no further public comment from either side while the parties attempt to resolve issues related to the divorce action."

— Joint statement from Gibbons’ attorneys, Monday

Thank goodness the nightmare is over — that is, if you don’t count People magazine, the Los Angeles Times and other national media inquiring about our illustrious governor.

“She won’t move out,” declared the all-caps, boldface headline in People a few days ago. And the Los Angeles Times piece Tuesday synthesized much of the chatter reverberating from Reno to Elko to Las Vegas under the headline, “Nevada governor’s messy divorce is a gossip jackpot.”

Oh, and there’s this, too: The revelation Tuesday in the Reno Gazette-Journal that Gov. Jim Gibbons used his state phone to text the woman the first lady says he is involved with 850 times in one month and 160 times one day during the legislative session. Now we know why the governor always looked as if he were clueless during the session — he was busy texting his girlfriend.

We thought it was embarrassing when the national media lampooned our gin-swilling, showgirl-escorting mayor. But think of the ongoing field day the networks and cable programs will have with our text-messaging, “Sex and the City”-going governor.

Unlike Oscar Goodman, Jim Gibbons has a real job that affects millions of Nevadans. And even his most ardent supporters now have to deal with the fact that he apparently had no idea there were foreclosure and budget crises because he was too busy having text with the wife of a Reno podiatrist.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

For all those who have lamented the coverage of Gibbons’ private life — and I have been one of the high-minded pontificators — this no longer is simply the story of a messy divorce. The nexus between public and private behavior is now too apparent for anyone to ignore. This is a story of an elected official utterly bereft of good judgment, one who has been recklessly gallivanting around Reno with married women just as he has recklessly gallivanted around the state with the governorship, showing the same disrespect to the office that he has shown to his wife.

The governor’s behavior has been an escalating series of embarrassments, beginning with his dazed legislative performance, continuing with his maladroit handling of the economic crisis and then his filing for divorce from a mercurial wife. The first lady then publicly accused him of adultery, and the governor responded by cavorting with married women around the biggest little gossip center in the world.

And now the text messages — an average of almost 30 a day during one month of the Legislature with a woman he claims is only a friend — a disclosure that may finally induce someone, whether it be impeaching lawmakers or frustrated friends, not only to take away his phone but also to tell him to relinquish his elected position.

“Of all the atrocious decisions this guy has made as governor, in every facet of being governor, this actually is such a real-life thing,” one Republican said Tuesday soon after learning of Gibbons’ text-messaging extravaganza. “That is far more damaging to him, as a leader — the picture of a governor cracking off this many text messages.”

The text-message story, which will have the whole state talking, will only further pique the national media’s interest. And it will be hard for the state to stay red when the Republicans here are so red-faced about the governor’s unstoppable humiliation.

As The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder so snidely put it Tuesday, “Putting the swing in swing state, one wonders whether Gov. Jim Gibbons’ nasty divorce will further demoralize Republicans in the state and boost Barack Obama’s chances of winning. At the very least, it’ll be hard for John McCain (to) appear in public with an alleged adulterer.”

Republicans here are reduced to arguing that Dawn Gibbons should stop the attacks so the governor is employable after his tenure — how pathetic is that? — and to banking on a promised housecleaning that will sweep out the highest levels of staff in his office — as if that will keep the governor at home and off his cell phone.

Gibbons and his sycophants may well be able to weather yet another storm, even though this one would seem to have Katrinalike devastation because he is not doing a heck of a job as governor. I don’t know why, but I keep imagining Gov. Brian Krolicki in front of TV cameras and solemnly intoning, “Our long state nightmare is over.”

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