Oscar for Governor

I have always thought that Las Vegas got a huge gift when it elected Oscar Goodman, one of my heroes and a great criminal defense attorney, as its Mayor a few years ago.

Today's LA Times captures Oscar perfectly in Las Vegas Mayor Gins Up Support:

"He is the mayor, after all, who invites residents to meet him for a drink at a local bar to discuss civic issues. "Martinis With the Mayor," the sessions are called. And they've become so popular, bars clamor to host the next one. And gin martinis have been Oscar Goodman's companion for 38 years, which has helped endear him with constituents as a regular fellow who lives life with gusto."

"All this is to say that, in Vegas, the mayor and martinis go together like Siegfried and Roy. So when Goodman agreed to switch from his favorite gin to a brand sold by the state's largest liquor distributor in exchange for $100,000 (donated to charity, of course), there was barely a stir (which is not how he prefers his drink)."

"Goodman, who encourages only responsible drinking and designated-driver programs, has never let convention stand in the way of promotion."

"The Democrat once urged the city to endorse an Internet gambling Web site in exchange for a piece of the action. The idea was withdrawn on a technicality: Internet gambling is banned by federal law. Elected mayor in 1999 largely on his popularity as a defense attorney for mobsters, he wants to convert an old downtown post office into a mob museum."

"So Friday night, when Goodman accepted the $100,000 check at a downtown street party attended by several thousand revelers, showroom entertainers sang and showgirls swished, their towering feather headdresses swaying back and forth."

"Goodman danced with "cuchi-cuchi" performer Charo, posed with a Playboy playmate starring in a new Strip strip show and was serenaded by Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe impersonators. All the while, Goodman sipped a martini or three from an oversize glass and told everyone -- surely without exaggerating -- that he's the happiest mayor in the world. "Isn't this the greatest thing in the world?" Goodman gushed. "This is the only place in the world that can have a party like this," he shouted to the crowd. "In all the other cities, people just mope around."

"The gin endorsement was part gimmick, part fund-raiser for the mayor, in cahoots with Southern Nevada Wine and Spirits." "The company is philanthropically active in Las Vegas and its managing director, Larry Ruvo, asked Goodman if he would switch from his favorite brand of gin -- Beefeater, which is distributed by a competing company -- in favor of "any other one he wanted -- as long as we distributed it."

"Goodman agreed, and in exchange, he received $100,000. Rather than apply the money toward his bar bill, Goodman split it between two charitable causes -- to help the homeless, and for scholarships at a private school co-founded by his wife of 40 years, Carolyn."

"We've had dog shows and other sorts of fund-raisers, but this one takes the cake," she said at Friday's night VIP gin party, which City Hall billed as the world's largest happy hour."

"After some due-diligence taste testing, Goodman chose Bombay Sapphire. Now, T-shirts, napkins, stirrers, glasses and other promotional items will be distributed in bars all around town pushing the Oscar Martini -- Bombay Sapphire gin and dry vermouth, shaken and straight up with three anchovy-stuffed olives. In exchange, participating bars must agree to kick in a portion of the Oscar Martini proceeds to the homeless fund."

"The mayor's martini marquee has drawn some cynical reactions. Las Vegas Sun columnist Jeff German wondered whether his next promotion would be renaming City Hall "Heineken Hall," and activists against drunken driving voiced concern about mixed messages. But overall, locals seem to have embraced the popular mayor's promotional antics, and the few voices of displeasure were drowned out by the crowds Friday night."

"Only Oscar could pull this off," says District Court Judge Kathy Hardcastle, watching the events with some amazement." "George Schick, who mixes paint at the local Home Depot, drank beer from a large, plastic football-shaped container and gave his mayor an "attaboy." "I'm Republican, but I still like Oscar," he said. "Some of what he does may seem a little far out there, but at least he's trying, and he's perpetuating our image, that Vegas is a place to have fun."

I happen to know that Oscar's favorite candy is tootsie rolls. I wonder what Las Vegas would get if a competing candy company got him to switch. Or, what the maker of tootsie rolls would give to Las Vegas if Oscar made tootsie rolls the offical candy of Las Vegas.

I know Oscar is having more fun being mayor than he has had doing anything else-- he is positively gleeful every time I see him. With his boundless ingenuity, good governance and gregarious personality, I fully expect he'll be Governor of Nevada one day.

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