Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Foreign Tourist's Guide To Washington

Visitors to the United States can be forgiven for being a bit confused by Washington. This does not refer to George Washington, first President of the country, but to the two large areas called Washington. There are some easy ways to tell them apart however. One of them is about as far north and west as a person can travel in the country. That one has dramatic mountains, towering redwoods, a primeval coastline and even a fruited plain. It manufactures Boeing aircraft, develops Internet Email systems, and produces apples. The other one is tucked in between Maryland and Virginia, about a third of the way down the East Coast. It is a piece of formerly uninhabitable swampland. It subsidises Boeing aircraft, taps into Internet email systems, and produces nuts. As an aide memoire, the western Washington is referred to as Washington State; the eastern Washington is referred to as Washington, DC. In what must be one of the greatest examples of Biblical Justice, average people get to go to Washington State to enjoy the tranquillity, the excitement, the food, the wine and the majestic beauty. Politicians get to go to the swamp. So the confusion about the two Washingtons is not really so impenetrable. That allows foreign visitors to focus on the real confusion: who actually won the November, 2004 election for Governor of Washington State. (No one actually won the November, 2004 election for Governor of Washington, DC as there is no Governor, since Washington, DC is not actually a state. That’s a bit of confusion best left to another travel guide.)

In November of 2004, the State of Washington staged its election for Governor. Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi contested the battle hotly. After counting 2.9 million ballots, it was determined that Mr Rossi won by 261 votes. American politics being what they are these days, Ms Gregoire also won. The Republican may have won the Governorship but the Democrat won the right to go to court. It’s nice when everyone wins. After a machine recount of the votes, the margin stayed with Rossi by 42 votes. Rossi was still Governor and Gregoire got to go to court again. Since state law says that any election determined by less than 250 votes can be challenged, a hand recount was ordered. In this recount it was discovered that hundreds of valid votes were dismissed by faulty signature scanning devices and hundreds of convicted felons’ votes were illegally included. Gregoire won this one by 129 votes. In a less than surprising move, Mr Rossi went to court.

The contest has now been decided a bare 7 months after the election. In the latest legal round, the judge tossed in some votes, tossed out other votes, probably tossed down 3 bottles of Washington State Merlot, and decided that Gregoire had actually won an election at some time and in some place in the distant past by 133 votes. Of course Rossi automatically won the right to appeal the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court but he has decided not to take the case further given the political makeup of the high court. Tourists (and residents of Washington State) no longer have an excuse to be confused about who the Governor of The State of Washington is.

So, for our visiting friends from afar, Christine Gregoire is the Governor of Washington and no one is the Governor of the other Washington. And George Washington may have seen Washington, but George Washington never saw George, Washington. Hopefully that clears everything up.


Blogger birdwoman said...

Hey, you want confusing names? Go to Indiana, Pennsylvania. or Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania (which is not near Jersey, or the shore). or, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or, Mars, Pennsylvania.

My favorite place, though, is Intercourse, Pennsylvania. That's half way between Blue Ball and Paradise. I wonder if George Washington ever slept there?

As for the gubner of Washington? I was kinda hoping they'd take it to a mud pit. Woulda made good pay per view, and would have probably paid for all the stupid court hours they've racked up.


9:14 AM  
Blogger Queenie said...

As a person living in the state of Washington where the guvnor's race is a freaking marathon, I just thought I'd let you know that you pretty much hit the nail on the head! Great post!

9:18 AM  
Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

Having been to George, Washington, I can tell you that George Washington didn't miss much.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Whymrhymer said...


That's a classic!

"My favorite place, though, is Intercourse, Pennsylvania. That's half way between Blue Ball and Paradise. I wonder if George Washington ever slept there?"

(I won't stoop to delivering the obvious caustic remark about which two presidents might have slept there)

9:17 PM  
Blogger Pryncess Kat said...

Living on the sane side of Washington State (that would be Eastern Washington, in case you are wondering) I agree with your post! This Gov election has been nothing but chaotic. All I know is that I'm thankful that Locke is out...what an ass.

I'm pretty sure everyone now has their confusion all cleared up! I'm pretty sure George never did gorge in George, WA. That's a pretty safe assumption!

What I always find humorous is when I say I'm from Eastern Washington and someone assumes I mean WA, DC...since it's THE eastern Washington. I think from Ellensburg east they should create a whole new state...since western WA rarely acknowledges there is anything past the pass!

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Great story! BTW, I have blogrolled you.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Cynikell said...

I would have gone with a nice Gewurtztraminer instead of the Merlot. The stains are less noticeable on the ballots.

11:23 PM  

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