Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wyoming's new "Code of the West"

A couple of lawmakers were sitting around the Wyoming Capitol Building.

Lawmaker 1: What we need is a new Code of the West.

Lawmaker 2: We already have a Code of the West.

Lawmaker 1: But that's an old Code of the Old West. We need a new Code of West, one that seems old but also is up to date.

Lawmaker 2: What's wrong with the old one? If it ain't broke...

Lawmaker 1: Just seems like some of those old values and traditions are slipping away from us. We need reminders of the way things used to be.

Lawmaker 2: Like that bumper sticker: "Wyoming is what America was."

Lawmaker 1: Just like that.

Lawmaker 2: Maybe there's something in the old code that would be useful.

Lawmaker 1: Don't spit into the wind?

Lawmaker 2: That's more common sense than code.

Lawmaker 1: Never draw against a man named Doc?

Lawmaker 2: Never sit with your back to the saloon door?

Lawmaker 1: Those are both good. But I was looking at something a bit more generalized. Some wise saying a modern cowboy might utter.

Lawmaker 2: "Better smile when you say that, pardner."

Lawmaker 1: Still a bit too specific. I like Owen Wister and The Virginian. If we had an official state book, that would be the one.

Lawmaker 2: I think I see what you're getting at. Universal truths, as in the Bible. Do unto others, etc.

Lawmaker 1: That's right. Words to live by.

Lawmaker 2: I got one: take pride in your work.

Lawmaker 1: That's great. Write it down.

Lawmaker 2: Ride for the brand.

Lawmaker 1: Sure, just like the old cowboys. Be loyal to your employer, even if you're paid a dollar a day like cowboys were.

Lawmaker 2: They got beans for dinner, didn't they?

Lawmaker 1: I see your point. Ride for the brand -- and don't complain.

Lawmaker 2: Ride for the brand -- and don't complain. I'll write that down.

Lawmaker 1: Erase the last part. Some people will complain about it.

Lawmaker 2 (erasing the last part): What's next?

Lawmaker 1: Remember that some things are not for sale.

Lawmaker 2: Do you think that's wise? Won't the oil and gas and coal companies get mad? We've sold them just about every square inch of land that we can.

Lawmaker 1: Yeah, damn federal government. If they didn't control half the state, could have sold those parts too.

Lawmaker 2: Damn federal government -- is that part of the code?

Lawmaker 1: Better leave that one out. Wyoming gets more in federal funds than we pay in taxes.

Lawmaker 2: Maybe we can put that in the footnotes.

Lawmaker 1: Can't have a Code of the West with footnotes. A Code of the West has to be simple and pure of heart, like the people of Wyoming.

Lawmaker 2: Simple and pure at heart -- does that go in?

Lawmaker 1: Better say it this way: Talk less, say more.

Lawmaker 2: I like it. What else?

Later that same day.

Lawmaker 1: The code is finished. We now have ten good points on the list.

Lawmaker 2: It's a fine code. Our colleagues will like it. The Governor will like it. Cowboys should like it.

Lawmaker 1: Energy companies will like it.

Lawmaker 2: You betcha. It's a kind of code that can change history.

Lawmaker 1: Prog-bloggers may not like it.

They both laugh hysterically.

Lawmaker 2 (harumphing loudly): Prog-bloggers! There ought to be a law.

Lawmaker 1: Or a code. We'll work on that one tomorrow.

FOOTNOTE: On Thursday, the Wyoming Senate passed a bill authorizing a new state code. The votes were almost unanimous, with one nay from Sen. Bruce Burns, a Republican from Sheridan. What's with that? Sheridan (according to its web site) has been "voted in the Top 25 Cities & Towns with the Best American Values and No. 1 Western Town in America!" A town of the West certainly needs a Code of the West. When this new code becomes law, Sen. Burns shall be dealt with by the proper authorities. I hope everyone in the state gets deputized to enforce the new code. Can't wait to "Get Western" on some of my neighbors.

Here's the new state code, as derived from the book, "Cowboy Ethics," by James P. Owen:

(i) Live each day with courage
(ii) Take pride in your work
(iii) Always finish what you start
(iv) Do what has to be done
(v) Be tough, but fair
(vi) When you make a promise, keep it
(vii) Ride for the brand;
(viii) Talk less, say more;
(ix) Remember that some things are not for sale
(x) Know where to draw the line.


karl said...

shouldnt "love your horse" be in there somewhere?

Michael Shay said...

Yes, Karl, "love your horse" should be in there. But that would make 11 things in the code, and you know that the code can't go up to 11.

Joanne Kennedy said...

They forgot "love your sheep," too:)
Funny post, Mike - but seriously, is this what our lawmakers are spending their time on? Wow.
It reminds me of the time the Ohio legislator voted to make "Hang On Sloopy" the state song. "Whereas Sloopy comes from a bad part of town, and whereas everyboy tries to keep my Sloopy down, we hereby resolve..."
Yup. They really did!