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by Jim Lehrer

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8061-3915-9
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

A chance remark on a call-in radio show throws The One-Eyed Mack into the Oklahoma governor’s race. And it’s not even his remark.

Radio host Sooner Sam, given name Jimmy D. Ramquist, has a gift for drawing out his guests. When he hosts Buffalo Joe Hayman, Oklahoma’s inimitable governor goes on a toot, claiming that “I want to take government out of government” by privatizing every government function his host can name, from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation to the office of the Lieutenant Governor, which Mack has occupied forever (Fine Lines, 1994, etc.). Arguing that the governor is patently off his rocker, Mack’s wife Jackie and his old friends Luther Wallace, ex-Speaker of the Oklahoma House, and OBI director C. Harry Hayes persuade Mack to do something he has never done before: go head to head with his boss in the upcoming election. No sooner does the infant campaign issue its first press release, however, than its plans run aground when Mack, in Washington for a meeting of the National Lieutenant Governors’ Association, eats one Milky Way too many, passes out from sugar shock and wakes up en route to the St. Francis Memorial Hospital, where he’s mistaken for another patient scheduled for a triple bypass and gets treated to (and billed for) the surgery himself. While Mack convalesces and Jackie and grandstanding Sooner lawyer Slim Gilbert prepare the mother of all lawsuits against the hospital, Luther takes Mack’s place as the man who would be governor. The tabloid accusations he trades with Buffalo Joe, which could have been ripped from today’s headlines, provoke hilariously credulous responses from Oklahoma radio audiences. And the $50 million lawsuit, though its fairy-tale ending defies belief, shows Mack at his most endearing.

Perhaps the best of all Mack’s adventures. He even gets to try his hand at some shuttle diplomacy worthy of a Henry Kissinger with heart.