I had attended this sumptuous diplomatic reception several years ago. In the cobwebs of my mind I recalled Larry Crispo, a distinguished Los Angeles lawyer, was made the president of the Half-Norwegian (on the Mother's Side) American Bar Association. No doubt, it was a step down to merely become a member of the California State Bar Board of Governors as he is now. You know, I became a lawyer so that I could be like Larry Crispo, to have his bearing and intellect, and all I recall from that Scandinavian feast several years ago was that Crispo ended up wearing a helmet with two horns sticking out of it which made him look like he had poached a couple of rhinos for their horns on the way over from his office.
But when [I was invited to speak here], I began to vigorously research not only my Scottish background but the Norwegian system of courts. Since I did not know anything about either, I decided to call that institution we all call when we are planning a trip--the Automobile Club. However, I found out that I had been kicked out of the Automobile Club because one of my daughters would constantly call the Triple A and ask, "Triple A? How do you spell that?" Doing that will get you kicked out of the Automobile Club just like using the word fahrverngnugen at any time or vomiting in a toll booth change basket.
So, I then turned to Dave Barry's "The Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need." Dave, the humor columnist for the Miami Herald, gives folks like me a handy guide to travel. For example, he writes about Alabama:
"Often called the pancreas of the South. The state flower is the Camellia and the state dog is named 'Booger' and you should not wake him up."
He writes of Tennessee:
"Although Tennessee is what geographers call 'a long skinny state,' it was nevertheless for many years able to contain Elvis Presley, whose Memphis home, Graceland, draws millions to marvel at the King's awesome legacy in the field of interior decoration, including a large room with a color scheme based entirely on digestive enzymes. . . .
"There are many other dynamic points you'll want to see," Dave writes, "but be on the lookout for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is a very large man named Earl M. Potash Jr. Do exactly what he says."
A guide such as this would surely help me understand Scotland where I am told my ancestors escaped from. Here's what Dave had to say about my dear Scotland and other occupants of the British Isles:
"Speaking of food, [its] cuisine has received a lot of criticism over the years, but the truth is it can be a very pleasant surprise to the connoisseur of severely overcooked livestock organs served in lukewarm puddles of congealed grease. [The British Isles] manufacture most of the world's airline food, as well as all the food you ever ate in your junior-high school cafeteria."
But enough about my sacred heritage. Let's see what Mr. Barry, the travel writer, has to say about Norway. At Page 148, the section for Norway simply says, "See `Denmark.'" So I turn to page 125 and it says: "Denmark (also called Norway) is best known as the original home of the prune Danish as well as the Vikings, who wore hats with horns sticking out of them, and for a very good reason: they were insane. But it did not stop them from being bold mariners who actually reached North America before Columbus but were stripped of the title when blood tests revealed that they had used steroids."
On May 17, 1814, Norway, which had received its well-earned independence from Denmark, adopted its Constitution which consisted of 112 paragraphs. The Norwegians were very careful to follow the lead of the Americans. Our foreguys--and they were all guys--went out of their way to reject certain provisions from our Constitution, and the Norwegians followed suit. For example, our Founders refused to include in our Constitution a provision which would give the vote to dogs who think they're people; we didn't put in our constitution a third house of Congress to be filled by really fat guys; our constitution didn't state the national bird must be served on a bun, never on a stick.
If you fly to Norway to watch a jury trial, please be sure to take an airplane. But be careful about your selection of airlines. Don't get on an airline where the advertising slogan is: "Our pilots are terminally ill and have nothing to lose." Do not fly an airline which claims, "We're the airline terrorists are afraid to fly" and never get on an airline which boasts, "your kids will love our inflatable slides" and never, never fly to Norway on an airline that advertises: "Our engines too noisy? We'll turn them off."
If you go to Norway to see a jury trial, good luck; they don't have them. And that saves their judges a lot of trouble. Here in the states, everybody is trying to get out of jury duty. Some ways to get out of jury duty include: ask the judge if you get to personally execute criminals; another way, every 5 minutes point to a different person in the courtroom and yell, "He did it"; and you always get out of jury duty when you ask if you'll be given an opportunity to personally examine bloody undershirts. Also, it never hurts to fly into a rage any time Norwegians are mentioned.
I did a little research to see if there were any famous Norwegian criminals in our history and the only one I could find was Jim Bakker. No, not the former Secretary of State. The Democrats in the room were all whispering, "I knew it." No I'm talking about Jim Bakker, the defrocked television evangelist. But there is good news about Tammy Faye Bakker's ex-husband--there is evidence his Norwegian soul has been rehabilitated. For example, he can now remember six of the commandments. Also, his prayers include less use of the term "vacation home" and he recently told a group of visiting theologians, "In all candor, I am an incredible dork." Finally, he has openly admitted to a prison counselor his attraction to Tammy Faye may have been a passing clown fetish.
Well, as it is so every year, this nationalistic celebration must come to an end. Today, the Norwegian military stands tall and proud, despite the fact it couldn't hold its own militarily against the UCLA pep squad. Of course even if it couldn't beat the UCLA cheerleading squad, given recent history, it would handily beat the University of Southern California football team.
Seriously, we have in jest today given our Norwegian sisters and brothers a hard time of sorts. But there is much to be said for the celebrations today in cities like Bergen and Oslo. Earlier today, the children of Norway participated in parades and ceremonies all over their country. Several years ago, an article in the Washington Post described the celebration in Oslo as follows: "In Oslo, children from all districts line up, some with instruments, and walk past the Royal palace to wave and play for their king and the royal family." One observer called Norwegian Independence Day "Children's Day" because of the role they play in the celebration. Today Norway celebrated its freedom and the liberty of its people. The world in which we live remains dangerous and filled with too many evil people and leaders for whom terms like ethnic cleansing are a matter not of morality but of state policy. War lords in places like Somalia and tyrants such as those who oppress the people of China and Tibet still have too free a rein. But in the darkness of our time, the candle of liberty which burns brightly in Norway this day, turns back the darkness and helps light our way. Thank you.