It's an iron-clad electoral rule: the politicians you hate the most aren't up for reelection.

           Take the case of Governor Arne Carlson: he seems incapable of articulating any policy whatsoever (unless you consider gutting public education or fussing about editorial cartoons policy). It got us wondering: If he does so little--in public view, anyway--why do some people hate him so much? And what are the alternatives? Surely, in a state like ours, there is some other Arne Carlson who could do a better job of doing nothing. We started making phone calls and came up with a limited slate of Arne Carlsons, all of whom seem eminently qualified for the top spot in St. Paul:

Name: Arne Carlson

Home: Minneapolis

Retired "from the meat industry"

Family: unknown

Past political
: none

Age: 69

           The City Pages Interview:

           CP: Hello. Are you related to the governor?

           AC: Nope.

           CP: Do you get a lot of calls for him?

           AC: Just about three I think, over the time. One to wish me a happy birthday.

           CP: How would you evaluate his work so far this term?

           AC: Oh, I think he's done well.

           CP: What do you think he's done well?

           AC: Oh, just overall. [long pause] I guess I can't say anything more than that.

           CP: Has he made any mistakes?

           AC: I can't think of any.

           CP: Do you have any political ambition?

           AC: Nope.

           CP: So you wouldn't run for governor?

           AC: Nope.

           CP: You wouldn't run against Arne Carlson?

           AC: Nope.

           CP: How much attention do you pay to politics?

           AC: Not much.

           CP: So it's not a big part of your life?

           AC: Nope. [long pause] I vote both parties.

           CP: So you'd call yourself an independent?

           AC: I would.

           CP: What do you think the strengths of the state are?

           AC: [very long pause]...[inaudible]

           CP: Okay. Thanks for your time.

           AC: Yup.

           Political Analysis: This Arne Carlson conducts himself in a style that could be characterized as "minimalist sound-bite." Our conversation was fraught with barren pauses and terse affirmative/negative responses to policy questions. Could he fill in for Minnesota's governor? Nothing's impossible. The fact that his more complex analysis was mumbled and unintelligible is promising.

Name: Arne Carlson

Home: Orono

Retired Small
Business Owner

Family: Married

Past political
: unknown

Age: 67

           The City Pages interview:

           CP: We're selecting an alternative draft for governor, and we thought of you, for obvious reasons.

           AC: Now, are you thinking that I'm Arne Carlson?

           CP: Not at all. I'm thinking that you might be a decent alternative to Arne Carlson.

           AC: I'm not interested in being a candidate for anything.

           CP: I see. Well, in that case, how would you evaluate the governor's performance so far in this term?

           AC: I'm more pleased than displeased. I think he's represented a nonpolitical-not-too-far-left-not-too-far-right. I'm pro-choice. He hasn't taken a strong stand on

that one way or another.

           CP: Has he done anything poorly, do you think?

           AC: Oh, well, I'm not sure about his public relations. Without getting too specific.

           CP: Suppose you were governor. What would your goals be?

           AC: I'm not really interested in pursuing this.

           Political Analysis: Well, for someone who seems to dislike Cyndi Brucato (without getting too specific) this Arne sure knows how to obfuscate. "I'm not really interested in pursuing this"? Spoken like a pro. This man is ripe for political office. Later in our conversation he summed up the state's problems succinctly: "We've got a big geographic state and a small population to take care of it." A little brushing up with the hated Brucato and this guy could be a shoe-in.

Name: Arne Carlson

Home: Minneapolis


Family: unknown

Past political
: unknown

Age: unknown

           The City Pages Interview:

           Woman: Hello?

           CP: Hi. Is Arne there?

           Woman: Uh, you must want the governor, huh?

           CP: No, huh uh, I don't. You get a lot of calls for the governor?

           Woman: Yeah.

           CP: I want the other Arne Carlson.

           Woman: Well, he's dead.

           Political Analysis: Is Minnesota ready for a dead governor? True, we buried Rudy Perpich with pomp and circumstance, and a score of other former governors have died. But never has a dead man actually served as governor. Nevertheless, Minnesota prides itself on its liberal, inclusive reputation. Putting a dead man in the governor's office would be a true test of whether there's any meat on the bones of that reputation. Then again, this Carlson might be better suited for the lieutenant governorship. Carlson & Carlson. Has a nice ring. *

--Joseph Hart


           Three times a year, the on-air hosts at Minnesota Public Radio break from reading news copy and sing for their supper. As the deadline approached to meet this season's fund-raising goal of $499,000, KNOW's broadcast talent extemporized at an impressively feverish pitch, from the koans of Gary Eichten to the the manic free association of pledging Zeus Dan Olson. We present the following lightly edited transcripts. Membership might not be free, but the verse is.

We've got our fingers and toes crossed

Makes it a little hard to walk

We have everything we can crossed save for our eyes

Writing isn't very easy either, I can tell you that

We can make it by nine o'clock tonight

--Kate Smith & Bob Potter

Do we have the gong handy?

Can we get that ready to go?

A lot of people I know, last fall, were very insistent

They weren't going to give any money

They weren't going to make any contribution

Until we gave them just a flavoring of that treasured midday gong



Ah, watch those phones light up now.

Bob is actually levitating right here in the chair

Listen to those phone rings

They love the gong

We love the gong

We're One with the gong.

--Gary Eichten

Look North, you'll see those storm clouds brewing

Some scattered thunderstorms coming our way

Looks like they may be pretty strong

The temperature is rising, it's now up to 95 degrees

Ten callers on the line right now

It's getting hot, we're rolling up our sleeves in the studio

Asking you to call 1-800-227-2811

In a way, Minnesota Public Radio is an oasis

The cool water in the hot desert of media in America

We need 10 callers, 12 callers, 15 callers

We need a tornado of calls

We need a tidal wave of calls

We need a cyclone of calls

A tsunami of calls

Six people on the line

We need more than that

--John Rabe & Mike Edgerly

Here in this airless studio

It's airless

It's air conditioned

But where you are at there's a prairie fire burning

Nail-biting time

New pledge totals, new numbers coming by

It's nail-biting time, the prairie fire that you started

Ten of you calling on the line

Responding to the challenge,

Your friends and neighbors

And now you--sitting on the fence

Listening to the service

Not paying for it

Our volunteers are standing by

--Dan Olson

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