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Well knock me down and zap my body 

I was all set to go a whole week without writing about the sheriff. There I was, walking along, whistling a jaunty tune, my hands shoved deep in my pockets, thinking of which locals have avoided my rapier wit of late, when--bam!--I tripped over a lawsuit.

That "bam!" was the sound of me falling over and smacking flat into the curb. I got some cuts and bruises and everything. You couldn't tell me from some guy who got taken down by police officers in his own home because they thought he was breaking in, which happened recently in San Luis Obispo--except I didn't have any guns on me to make the lawmen extra suspicious. Read all about it on page 13.

But listen to me run on! I must sound like a crazy person, and I probably am after my fall. That nasty bump on my head could be an indication of addled wits.

Regardless, I have no idea why a lawsuit was just lying there in the middle of the road. And now that I think about it, it might not have been a lawsuit after all. Yeah, looking back now I realize that it was just a wadded up newspaper--maybe an old issue of New Times--and that I actually saw the lawsuit later.

However I discovered it, the litigation in question ruined my day, because right there in black and white I saw the name that I was trying to avoid: SLO County's one and only Sheriff Pat Hedges.

At this point in the game, everyone knows his story, but for the sake of aiming for the lowest common denominator--and assuming that at least some of our readers don't pay much attention to current events, or were in South America for the last couple of months, or some combination of the two--I'll sum up.

Sheriff: suspicious bugger. Chief deputy: unhappy buggee. County: Don't look at us. Public: not surprised.

After making his complaints known to the county, Gary Hoving (the buggee) took the next big step that everyone was bracing themselves for and filed an official lawsuit.

So the gloves are off. But do sheriff's deputies even wear gloves? Whatever they wear, it's off, though not in a sexy law officer stripper sort of a way. It's more of a boxing metaphor, except that you'd put gloves on to start boxing, so don't ask me to explain. I'm still trying to figure out what it means to take someone to the mattresses. Is it a violent term? Or an erotic one? Or is it more mundane, like shopping for a new bed?

Sorry. My brain's a little jumbled. When I saw the lawsuit naming the sheriff and realized that my sheriff-free streak was ruined, I spun around to run out of the room and smacked my head into a hanging lamp. The light bulb shattered, and I got a pretty good electrical shock. You couldn't tell me from some naked guy who got shot with beanbags and zapped with a Taser because he was acting like he was on PCP, which happened recently in Los Osos--except I wasn't in the buff to make the lawmen extra suspicious.

And while I'm on this subject, I have to point out that while history may show us that people on drugs are sometimes possessed of a high tolerance for pain and superhuman strength, it's also shown us that naked men don't have many places to hide weapons. You're not going to find any ninja stars tucked away down there, if you catch my drift.

I'm going to spare you and not make any nightstick jokes.

Anyway, when I came to after my run-in with the lamp, I started fanning myself with a sheaf of papers, just to get my wits about me, and darned if those papers weren't that pesky lawsuit again. Why fight fate? Why dare to disturb the universe? Why smack the hand of God away?

I hunkered down and read the document, and here's what made me the most angry out of everything written there: Attorney Michael Stone, representing Gary Hoving in this case, dubbed the controversy surrounding the sheriff's surreptitious monitoring of his subordinate "San Luis Obispogate."

Last week I made a big deal comparing Pat to Richard Milhous Nixon (they're virtually the same, minus the jowls), but I think that my astute analogy should have ended the discussion. Obispogate? Really?

I hate the fact that adding "gate" to the end of anything makes it a scandal. Watergate wasn't about water, and "gate" isn't a catchall suffix it's part of a proper noun. Using it this way makes about as much sense as saying "Water Luis Obispo," which I call dibs on for when I open my wave pool with waterslides and other aquatic attractions.

And I'm not just singling out Michael Stone. I'm pointing my finger at anyone who ever used the term, most notably the perpetrators behind Winegate, Koreagate, Irangate, Baftagate, Travelgate, Nannygate, Fajitagate, Monicagate, Kobegate, Marthagate, and Nipplegate--though that last one is pretty funny.

Fortunately, nobody is forced to call this case by anything other than "that lawsuit the sheriff better worry about because I'm not buying that he's got a good defense" if they feel like it. Besides, Spygate, Buggate, and even Patgate are waaaay better names than San Luis Obispogate, which could refer to anything from the many fights waging around Ernie Dalidio's hope to develop his land, to the ongoing battle against development downtown and on hillsides, to complaints of excessive force on the part of local peace officers.

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