Wednesday, May 02, 2007
The Guv's New Ride
You can't keep a good Jersey boy down for long.
STATE BUSINESS. Yes, New Jersey governor Jon Corzine had a setback, becoming the third straight holder of that office to suffer a broken leg more or less in the line of duty. But he's back in the saddle again, as The New York Times reported Monday:
PRINCETON, N.J., April 30 — Gov. Jon S. Corzine apologized to New Jersey residents on Monday as he left the hospital 18 days after a devastating traffic accident in which he was not wearing a seat belt and was being driven at more than 91 miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway.
“I set a very bad example,” said a contrite Mr. Corzine, who broke his left femur, his sternum and 11 ribs in the accident, speaking from a wheelchair just outside Cooper University Hospital in Camden. His voice breaking with emotion, he added: “I hope the state will forgive me. I will work very hard to set the right kind of example.”
It's true. There's actually a pretty long list of the ways he let the people of his state down. First, there's no excuse for the speed. At that time of the year, on the lower end of the Garden State Parkway, the right vehicle should be able to cruise well over 100 mph with no sweat. I've done it at 120 mph+ myself. But was it the right vehicle? No. Black mark number two. Even a heavy SUV should be able to handle a complex swerving maneuver on that road surface provided it has VR-rated tires, Koni shock absorbers, and metallic brakes. Clearly the governor's ride was not so equipped. Worse than all this, he got caught.
There are only two ways to get caught on the Garden State Expressway. The state police, who go all para-military on you in their designer uniforms when they nail you, can hide on their secret trails in the pines that line the highway and pounce if your vehicle isn't forewarned by state-of-the-art radar-laser detector systems. Obviously, this wasn't Corzine's downfall because he had the state police doing his speeding for him. He got nabbed the second and more humiliating way, by ricocheting off everything in sight after the vehicle went out of control and wrecked. Shameful. A disgrace to every motorhead in the state.
Fortunately, though, it appears that some of the right steps are being taken. According to the Times:
After the brief comments, Mr. Corzine was helped into a black... van, with tinted windows, that he bought and had specially modified... and left the hospital in a six-car caravan about 1:45 p.m. His vehicle followed a black state police Crown Victoria, and was followed by a Chevrolet Suburban — like the one he was riding in at the time of the crash — a Mercedes station wagon, and two other cars.
The governor’s motorcade moved with the flow of traffic on Interstate 295, at some points sustaining speeds up to 70 miles per hour several minutes at a time, according to the speedometer of a vehicle traveling alongside; posted limits were 55 and 65.
This is progress. No doubt, he'll be cruising in triple digits again after the crash trauma wears off. In the meantime, it's a good sign that he's not so gun-shy as to bend over for the dumb-as-rocks double-nickel.
The new "van," mentioned in the NYT article is also a huge improvement over its predecessor. It features abundant armor plate and the aftermarket shocks, tires, and brakes recommended above, as well as a 16-cylinder, 64-valve, 1,001 HP engine specially procured from Bugatti. (It's also a hybrid, just to keep things green.) This should enable the governor to get down the highway at a more respectable speed. It also has custom running lights (see graphic above) designed to notify slower drivers in front to get the hell out of the way of the state's chief executive when he's bearing down on them. Helpful warning stickers are prominently placed on the back of the vehicle to warn away drivers who might be trying to make a race of it, unaware that the quarry they're chasing is being driven by a NJ state trooper:
Inside, the governor will be able to belt himself into a high-performance wheelchair specially manufactured for him by Harley Davidson, so that he can make serious tracks even after he disembarks from the van:
Obviously, the long-term solution is for the Guv to start driving himself again. No self-respecting speed demon wants to leave all the driving to someone else, and it's just not honorable to duck the biggest risks by hiding behind trooper chauffeurs. But he says he's learned his lesson, and we're prepared to believe him. A man in his position can't possibly be ignorant of the values embodied in his state's anthem. (Or proposed anthem anyway. Once upon a time. Before the nanny state mentality descended like a ton of wet blankets.) The words should be burned into his soul, as they are with so many other sons [and daughters; sorry, Monica] of the Garden State, and as he contemplates his responsibilities at the governor's mansion, Drumthwackett, he should be repeating -- or better yet singing -- these lyrics, which have a uniquely new and personal meaning in his life:
Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss
The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybodys out on the run tonight but theres no place left to hide
Together wendy well live with the sadness
Ill love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I dont know when were gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go and well walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us baby we were born to run
Well, maybe not the 'tramps' part. That would be the previous guv.