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Let's pombo 

What would you call 14 years of uncompromising partisanship, corruption, and environmental degradation?

Three years ago, Seattle Stranger sex columnist Dan Savage responded to vile homophobic comments by now-ousted Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by holding a contest.

Savage challenged his readers to "define santorum" to immortalize in infamy the senator's name by assigning it to some still-uncoined substance or act. The people spoke, and the frothy brew of lubricant and bio matter that leaks from the bum after anal sex forever became known as santorum. Lewd, but effective.

After a big day, a blue day, a day when a strong wind blew, it took more than a minute to straighten up enough absorb the totality of the events that took place. At once we saw a Democratic house, a Democratic Senate, Nancy Pelosi third in line for the presidency, and Rumsfeld taking a long, long walk. Who could have guessed?

Most phenomenal of all was the story of seven-term Tracy-based Republican Dick Pombo, beaten by an unknown carpetbagger. The San Joaquin congressman stood as a symbol of the Bush administration. Pombo was chairman of the powerful House Resources Committee, frontman of the GOP's offshore drilling audition, and an unwavering supporter of the war. The Bush lackey frequently proved a microcosm of the notoriously cowardly 109th Congress.

As soon as George Allen conceded Virginia, the revolution went full circle and a thought suddenly entered my head: Pombo seems too sweet a simple collection of syllables to simply forget. What is a pombo? How would one pombo? Here are the fruits of analysis:

pombo (pÿom'bÿo) n.

1. an amalgamation of phlegm, blood, and mucus exuded from the mouth as a result of contact with ocean pollution or harmful algae blooms. 2. a symptom commonly associated with red tide. 3. a byproduct of special-interest-led deregulation.

Santa Barbara congressperson Lois Capps scarcely regarded the defeat of her political archnemesis she had her own farmers'-rights demons to dispatch but no doubt she smiled once or twice thinking about not seeing Pombo in Washington again. The Republican stood out in front of every recent surge to overturn the quarter-century-old offshore drilling moratorium as a solution to the mounting energy crisis.

Californians, above all else, should remain intrinsically suspicious of a "natural" energy crisis. Certainly Pombo's GOP-heavy district could read the writing on the wall. In July, several hundred District 11 voters called Pombo out to a town hall meeting to answer for reported misdeeds, including taking nearly a quarter million in contributions from energy interests, shifting $450,000 in shady accounts that trickled down to members of his immediate family, ignoring a 13-count complaint from the Center for Ethics and Responsibility, and apparently lying about using federal money on a massive RV tour.

A student of Tom DeLay and associate of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Pombo kept the PACs and lobbies at no more than arm's length right up to the end. And, more than anything else, California air and water quality suffered as a direct result of his backdoor dealings, due to his lofty position as head of the committee overseeing natural resources. Yet, his advocacy was always purportedly in the interest of lower gas prices.

If you didn't notice, the autumn-long slide at the pump reversed this week. pombic (pyom'bik) adj.

1. describing complicity in a larger ruse for political gain: playing a pombic game. 2. ignorant of collateral damage inflicted on a friendly party. 3. participating in a staged event lending artificial vindication to a failed war.

Support our troops. Pombo and Bush stated repeatedly that they kept the American servicemen in the forefront of their mind every single day on the job. Certainly both were appalled by a recent wave of insurgency in Baghdad that cost the lives of an undisclosed number of soldiers, but that's the reality of war, right? It's hell.

Funny that the incident sparking the violence news from the Iraqi tribunal that good-ol' Saddam will be hanging around occurred three days before the general election. A death sentence, issued against a deposed Sunni leader, by Kurdish judges, at the request of Shiite prosecutors, seemed a mandate that should have been handed down on more stable ground. Perhaps after the successful installation of some self-governance infrastructure?

How's that police academy coming, by the way?

For the safety of the boys and girls sent off to play in an evil sandbox, delaying the sentence a few months would appear a more prudent, yet less profitable action.

Bush revealed his hand by stumping for loyal GOP candidates in the more contested congressional districts, hardly finishing a sentence without uttering "Saddam." He shipped the first lady to the West Coast, and she was ready and waiting in the California 11 when the verdict came. Apparently, the exchange rate of soldiers for congressmen took an unforeseen leap.

pombo (pyom'byo) v.

1. to whine, cry, or otherwise bemoan a fair democratic decision. 2. to make a shameful scene following an already-embarrassing defeat. 3. to claim like-minded opposing factions colluded to prompt one's downfall.

Just a quick memo to budding politicos: If you notice the suffix "-ists", there's a decent chance that the individuals the overall term refers to are advocates for the base word. This is an important rule of thumb in California especially, where a veteran lawmaker can, so it seems, not know that environmentalists seek to protect the environment.

When the poll numbers trickled in, indicating that Pombo might not cruise to reelection, he lashed out against conservationist organizations like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters for ganging up on him. Of course, Pombo did vote to drill in ANWR, spun information to promote the privatization of protected mining land, and battled the National Environmental Protection Act at virtually every turn. Among his more egregious maneuvers, Pombo incorrectly blamed a bush (the innocent kind) for causing a levee to break in the valley and used that as ammunition in a battle to amend the Endangered Species Act.

I could go on, but it would literally take another column. Let's just say I wouldn't leave any baby seals unattended in the greater Tracy area if you know what I mean. If you don't, you probably don't know what an environmentalist is either.

Then again, it's actually not that surprising Pombo didn't know what an environmentalist was. It's not like he ever listened to one.

Staff writer Patrick M. Klemz reads Dan Savage every week, but, in all fairness, Matt Groening invented the shtick. To do the homer, or propose a new way of doing the pombo, send an e-mail to

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