By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Let's face it: Harping on Rep. Michele Bachmann just ain't what it used to be. At this point, taking swipes at her fairy-tale worldview is like shooting fish in a barrel. No, wait. It's more like shooting the barrel itself, provided it's filled to the brim with steaming bullshit.
So it is with fatigued reserve that we pass along a laughable speech that the Sixth District representative delivered to the Anoka County Business Leadership Forum last week: "If we extract 20 percent [of the oil] we know is off the coast of Virginia, we can replace what we import from Saudi Arabia," she said. "We have got almost unlimited availability of energy in the United States but we have restricted our ability to use it."
Sigh. It's impossible to know the exact figures, but according to the Interior Department, about 56 million barrels of oil are waiting to be tapped off Virginia's coast. Twenty percent of 56 million—let's see, carry the one—is just over 11 million barrels. Total. By contrast, we import roughly 500 million barrels of oil a year from the Saudis, according to those hippies at the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. government's own site that keeps track of such matters.
Note to Bachmann: 500 million > 11 million. —Matt Snyders
If the end of the world is nigh, what's the harm in an unpaid bill? It's a question raised by a lawsuit a local tech firm filed recently against a Southern Bible college.
In its complaint, Eagan-based Apex IT alleges it did tens of thousands of dollars in computer networking for Rhema Bible College, an Oklahoma school, only to get stiffed on a sizable chunk of its pay.
Rhema Bible College didn't respond to a request for comment, and has yet to file an answer to the complaint. The school's website yields a clue, however: Its mission is to "play a key role in the end-times revival that will usher in the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." But if Rhema is rolling the dice on the apocalypse, its odds are long: There's a mandatory settlement hearing scheduled for late April. —Jonathan Kaminsky
Despite the short session, Minnesota legislators had time to debate one of the state's most pressing transportation issues: Should boozing while bicycling be legal?
Of course, says Al Boyce, managing partner at the Minnesota Pedal Pub, a tour company that books rides on its bicycle-powered mobile bar.
"You can drink on buses and limousines, why not on a multi-person bicycle?" says Boyce. "We've had people who call us up and say, 'Pedaling on a bar sounds like fun. Call me back when you can have a beer.'"
Currently, local ordinances in some cities, including Minneapolis, make it illegal to drink alcohol in public, so Boyce was forced to pedal his booze-quaffing passengers around private property. Not much of a tour, says Boyce, who adds that there is a designated "driver" on all rides.
To help Boyce out, State Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-Miller High Life) authored a bill that would allow the consumption of alcohol on commercial multi-passenger bicycles. The legislation was approved by the House Commerce and Labor Committee in March, and was rolled into the alcohol omnibus bill last week. (Other parts of the bill include mandatory-minimum penalties for "Party Fouls" as well as the long-needed "Truth in Beer Goggles Act.")
"If it passes, we'll be the only bar left in the state that still allows smoking," Boyce says. Just be sure to save some of your wind for pedaling. —Beth Walton
A campaign ad currently airing on local television lauds Norm Coleman for working to "crack down on predatory lenders."
It's a line that doesn't sit well with Sunday Alabi, a member of ACORN, a community organizing group that has long fought predatory lending.
"It's a blatant lie," says Alabi, who adds that his group has been trying to get Coleman's support on the issue since the senator's days as a Democratic St. Paul mayor.
A quick check of Coleman's record backs up Alabi's case. Coleman recently opposed the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which would have put more muscle into penalties for nefarious lending practices. He has also taken more than $16,000 in contributions this election cycle from the mortgage banking industry—the eighth-highest among senators.
As for the ad, it was paid for by an Iowa-based nonprofit called the American Future Fund. Calls to Coleman's press office weren't returned. —Jonathan Kaminsky