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Oh brother, here we slo-gan in West Virginia

September 18, 2007|By TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

Hot diggity doo, West Virginia is having itself a hootenanny of a slogan contest. I hope I have the strength.

First, the bad news: From age 2 to 30, I was a West Virginian. Second, the worse news: I am strangely proud of this. Third, the marginally better news: The above facts allow me to make fun of my home state without fear of...

(Sounds of a dead possum being scraped off of my face).

But please, does West Virginia have to ask for the abuse by opening itself up to slogan contests? Yes, yes, we've heard them all: "A Louisiana Away From Being Last In Everything." "One Big Happy Family - Really." "Pearl Buck Stopped Here."

We get it, thanks.

We don't need a whole 'nother round, like what happened when it came time to suggest ideas for the new West Virginia quarter. ("How 'bout a crescent moon?, har har.")

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Besides, I thought West Virginia already had a slogan: The Mountain State. What's wrong with that? Turns out, that's the motto, not the slogan. Sheesh. Pretty soon it'll need a state adage, state mantra and a state catchphrase.

For the record, W.Va. already had a slogan, too: "Open for Business." I don't know what was wrong with that one either, except that it just as easily could have worked for a brothel.

The slogan was the brainchild of Gov. Joe Manchin, but it had fallen under criticism of Republicans (Slogan: "Our Stance is Wider than Your Stance"), who said it sounded "cheesy."

This makes you wonder if there is something, anything, anymore that one party could do without drawing criticism of the other party.

Glad to hear that unemployment, education, transportation and poverty issues have all been solved, so there's nothing left to debate except whether or not the state motto has a nice ring to it.

I said motto. I meant slogan. Sorry.

But Manchin, to his credit or discredit, I can't decide which, agreed to open up the issue for debate

He writes: "With our state heading in the right direction and our citizens taking a renewed sense of pride and ownership in West Virginia and its future, I believe that now is the time for us to engage the people of West Virginia in choosing a permanent welcome slogan - one that they would want all the world to see as they journey into the Mountain State."

Um, OK. Sure, I mean if not now - when?

So folks are being asked if they want a new slogan, and if so, to suggest a replacement.

The tallies for the new slogan were being compiled online, which suggests a slogan in itself:

"West Virginia - Didn't Think We Had Computers, Did You?"

According to press accounts, a week into the vote some 21,000 people had responded. Which, given recent demographic trends, leads you to suspect that some people are voting twice.

I'd hoped some of the "suggested mottos" would be available for all to see, but they weren't. It just asks, new slogan, yes or no, and then provides a space for you to write something. I resisted the strong pull to type "Inbred, We Trust" into the space because I didn't want to cause any trouble.

I did notice recently - and thought it might be applicable - that West Virginia finished No. 2 in the celebrated "fattest state in the nation" survey. Maybe snaking a bit off of New Hampshire's "Live Free, or Die!" credo, I was thinking along the lines of "Live Fat, or Die." But my colleague Andy Schotz said this could be improved upon if the slogan were treated as an admonishment to the citizenry, sort of as encouragement to watch their caloric intake: "Fat Free, or Die!."

Or not. Plus, we remembered that New Hampshire's "Live Free, or Die" is a motto, not a slogan, so really it fails on two levels.

By the way, what ever happened to "Wild, Wonderful West Virginia?" GOP didn't like that one either? And maybe the "wild" part conjures up too many "Deliverance"-like connotations. As a matter of fact, just about anything will. People will twist the new slogan into double meanings and then snicker behind our backs. Except for this one:

"West Virginia: Don't Believe Everything You Hear."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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