Now, people in southern California are aware of that, as well.
For four hours prior to Thursday's national championship football game in Pasadena, Calif., a plane flying above the Rose Bowl pulled a banner that derided Gov. Bob Riley, who was at the game along with a delegation of political and economic development officials from the state.
The banner's message was direct: "Impeach Corrupt Gov. Bob Riley."
That escapade — cost: $3,000 — was paid for by wealthy Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate, a longtime and harsh Riley critic who's never shy to inject himself into state politics. If the outspoken Pate wanted a sizeable bang for his buck, he made the proper choice. It's hard to find a more visible venue than the sold-out Rose Bowl before a nationally televised title game.
Yet, it's highly unfortunate — if not embarrassing for the state — that a Riley detractor introduced this chapter of modern-day Alabama politics to such a wider audience. An audience, it's important to note, that included a hefty contingent of traveling Alabamians. Truth be told, they surely would have appreciated at least a brief respite from the growing bloc back home that's boiling over the governor's hard-line approach on electronic bingo.
"I wanted everybody in the nation to see how I feel about this governor," Pate told the Associated Press, claiming the governor was a "phony" but that the banner was not influenced by Riley's anti-gambling beliefs.
In the broader sense, the reason's irrelevant. Pate paid three grand to fly a banner in Pasadena, and next week it'll hardly be an issue. The businessman's dislike for the governor is old news. And debate over the governor's anti-gambling stance — or other policies, for that matter — is worthwhile, but it's best left for another place and another time.
What's more, it would have been nice if Riley's spokesman, Todd Stacy, hadn't referenced the "gambling thugs" in Phenix City who assassinated Albert Patterson in 1954 after he won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. Flying banners, meddling in state politics and opposing the governor is one thing; gunning down a state official is another.
It would have been better if Riley's office had simply chalked this up as a non-issue, giving reporters nothing but a placid, milquetoast response to queries about the banner.
It also would have been better for Alabamians — even for those who oppose Riley's politics — if Montgomery's business could have stayed in Montgomery for at least a day. Instead, it followed Alabamians all the way to Pasadena. What a waste of $3,000.