If there’s one thing we Utahns like above all else—other than fighting over which are the best ice cream flavors, cookie franchises, football teams (bite me, Zoobs) and porn sites—it’s that we unite and come together as one to rejoice that we are loved and adored by non-Utahns. We hate it when they mock our saccharine ways and silly traditions, but we relish it when they say nice things about us. Today is no exception to the latter.
The latest state rankings by U.S. News & World Report—released just in time for the spring floods to properly announce the greatness of our recent historic snowfall—places Utah as the No. 1, ultimate, nobody-does-it-better-than-us Best State in America. Several things are not known at this point, however. One, do those rankings include states in the Central and South Americas as well, or just the best of the United States of America?
It’s a sniggling point, but it remains notable in that when we use the word “America,” our exceptionalism allows us to forget that we aren’t the only place on the globe that derives its name from the Italian explorer and cartographer, Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci did most of his exploring south of the equator, so it’s only fair that Central and South America not be excluded from a ranking of their own states: such as Bahia in Brazil, which just 59 years after Vespucci ventured there, notably established the first slave market in the New World.
That was a full 300 years before early pioneers even arrived in the Utah Territory. If they are still allowed to teach it in Utah public schools—Utah’s version of CRT is not Black, but brown—then future generations will know what happened next.
Did the list consider Managua, Nicaragua? Actually, what we call a state here is termed a “department” in Nicaragua, but certainly Managua has its share of winnable assets. Among those is it being the birthplace of noted human rights activist Bianca Jagger, wife of Mick. Surely that counts for something.
However, contributing to world good was not a metric on the U.S News & World Report rankings. That focused mostly on a states’ fiscal stability, education, natural environment and health care. But, as they say, “You can’t always get what you want.”
I might get a quarrel from my friend, Steve Conlin, formerly of the Five Wives Vodka empire, that his new home in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico should be counted as a state for the purpose of this ranking. As well, Salt Lake Tribune Publisher Paul Huntsman might argue that his own favored basecamp in the unincorporated territory of Guam should be a rankings candidate.
I’m certain both Puerto Rico and Guam could rank ahead of several states, particularly several southern United States. For example, Louisiana does squat when it comes to damned near anything, sitting solid as the 50th Worst State (52 counting Puerto Rico and Guam). Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi aren’t far behind. Wayda go, Confederates.
What exactly is U.S. News & World Report, anyway? I jest. I do remember an era, and fondly so, when the likes of that magazine plus Time and Newsweek comprised the big trio of “go-to” resources for updates on national and international matters. Truth is, I’d forgotten about all three of them of late, they seemingly being of little consequence when it comes to moving the needle of public opinion these days.
If there are 10 citizens who subscribe to U.S. News & World Report in all of Utah, I’ll buy each of them a platter of fish and chips at the Green Pig Pub. That even includes Gov. Cox, who, assuming he is a U.S. News & World Report subscriber, would have the added ammo he needs for next year’s rankings issue, when Tastiest Fish & Chips is added to the metrics that measure the best of our 50 or 52 states.
Which reminds me. There is another category that, if we Utahns can rally behind, will secure us a forever ranking as the Best State in All of the Americas—North, South and Central. That category is “Best Mules.”
I’m not talking about the mules that used to work alongside Utah’s farmers and miners back in the olden days. Nor about the mule who does the dirty work of transporting drugs, often across international borders.
Corporate and special interest muling is now the primary calling for our elected officials. Is there a more full-throated mule than Sen. Mike Lee, who mocks the Constitution he so loves by doing the conspiratorial dirty work for the likes of an integrity-stained Supreme Court Justice like Clarence Thomas? According to Lee, Thomas is “the most influential justice our country has ever seen.” Huh? There is also Lee’s buffoonery work on behalf of the ethically challenged Donald Trump, aka “Captain Moroni.” He’s no saint, Mike.
How about Rep. Burgess Owens, who carries the water for all things against transgendered people? It’s his favored cause on the bigoted battering ram that is Twitter.
Or Sen. Mitt Romney, who accepted $13 million worth of mule work for the National Rifle Association while running for president. Utah averages about 400 deaths annually from firearms.
You do the math to determine what Mitt is paid for each one—but then multiply that number for how many deaths occurred in Sen. Marco Rubio’s Florida in the same period (2,449) and you see that the NRA got a real bargain in Mitt. Poor Rubio only got $3 million.
Our guys in the House and Senate really deliver for their benefactors, and at frugal Utah prices. That’s what I mean by saying that we have the Best Mules Money Can Buy. When U.S. News & World Report adds that metric, Utah will hold the No. 1 spot forever.
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