Fitzgerald special session (copy)

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald gavels into the special session Gov. Tony Evers called to address gun-related issues, without any other senators present, just before 8 p.m. on Thursday. 

Is it just me, or did things even weirder in the state Capitol these last few days than is usually the case?

It was especially creepy to hear a bunch of Republican legislators, most notably Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, get so snowflakey over Gov. Tony Evers' insinuation they are a bunch of "bastards" for refusing to confirm his ag secretary, Brad Pfaff.

These are the guys who for nearly three years now have emphatically defended their national leader, President Donald Trump, for his daily profanities and crude insults — many of them blatantly racist and sexist. It's just Trump being Trump, they assure us, adding what a great president he is.

But when a governor who had every right to be miffed over the Fitzgerald-led snit that resulted in Pfaff's firing used the term "bastards" — as in, don't let them get you down — it's "shockingly disrespectful toward Senate Republicans."

Not that they don't need to be disrespected.

How can one respect a group of closed-minded politicians who don't have the common decency to even discuss two bills aimed at addressing America's shameful record of gun violence? Never mind passing the bills, but just discussing them, especially since statewide polls have consistently shown 75-80% of the people surveyed favor expanded background checks and "red flag" laws, the two items Evers had asked legislators to consider.

No chance, especially when such action might upset that big campaign donor, the NRA.

Then, just a few days after Fitzgerald slipped into the Capitol at night, opened the special session and then gaveled it closed less than a minute later, the legislators found ample time to debate the pressing issue of what to call the evergreen in the Capitol rotunda — a holiday tree or a Christmas tree?

That debate came after another monumental issue — declaring the week of Thanksgiving "National Bible Week." That, too, generated some pointed discussion, especially after the Freedom from Religion Foundation insisted that the resolution favors Christians over other religions. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Fitzgerald's comrade in the lower house, replied that "many of us are Christians."

Like several governors before him — with the notable exception, of course, of that great Christian Scott Walker — Evers decided the state should call that evergreen a "holiday" tree. He pointed out that nearly everyone in the state celebrates the holidays at this time of the year, so why not include everyone, not just Christians?

Fitzgerald, who is positioning himself for the soon-to-be-vacant 5th Congressional District seat, called Evers' action "PC garbage" — a term that he obviously believes isn't nearly as insulting as calling Wisconsin Republican senators "bastards."

While he couldn't find time to talk about gun safety, Fitzgerald suddenly found his voice and accused the governor of going through "machinations" to avoid offending a small group of people.

The state's right-wingers, of course, went nuts. One of their more prominent bloggers claimed Evers had "killed" Christmas in Wisconsin by calling the tree a "holiday" tree.

Apparently, killings by the wrong people with firearms aren't as serious a problem.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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