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Bill Shipp - Coming soon: Sonny and Romeo

I can feel it: 2008 is going to be a year of superlatives, not all of them good.

For example:

Gov. Sonny Perdue will prove that he is easily the least-accomplished Georgia governor since Reconstruction. He just about sewed up the title in 2007. (See water, drought and "don't know which way to turn.") During the next 12 months, he'll cinch the crown for incompetence as well as a tarnished medal for suspicious conduct.

Moreover, Sonny is in line for the Sleeping Watchdog Citation of the young century. While the governor yawned and looked on, state employees made off with millions in improper state credit card expenditures. Another major scandal involving breathtaking cash shortages, including the disappearance of criminal fine payments made by money orders, is about to surface in the Corrections Department. It may set an all-time record for missing moolah.

Even so, Sonny continues to be among the most popular governors in recent times. The reason: He didn't do anything to make most voters angry. Apparently Georgia voters don't care that our man-of-faith chief executive misplaced his moral compass among a stack of foul-smelling real estate deals. Or that some of Sonny's state employees treat taxpayers' dollars like Monopoly money.

Insiders say Perdue has another "worst" prize coming. The governor has the worst temper of any governor since Jimmy Carter. Carter was mean because he was a perfectionist. Perdue yells and screams to drown out reminders that he has let the people down.

House Speaker Glenn "Romeo" Richardson will continue to hold the multiple titles of least-qualified, least-ethical and least-caring presiding officer in modern history. Still, Romeo is a barrel of laughs. Have you read the latest version of his GREAT tax-reform proposal? You'll fall down giggling, unless you believe it may become law. Then you'll head for Alabama. The state of Georgia will be on its way to becoming the state of chaos.

My heart goes out to members of the Georgia House of Representatives - well, some of them anyway. They face participating in the most divisive legislative session since the fight over "whites only" signs on Capitol water fountains.

How would you like to be a straight-arrow Georgia House member forced to make the awful choice between backing Perdue or Richardson?

A king-size fight is brewing over whether Sonny has the legal right to "redirect" millions of dollars from the House-crafted state budget to finance dozens of items of the governor's choosing.

If you side with Perdue on his unconstitutional act, then you may find yourself sitting in the House cloakroom for the rest of your career. You'll also be in league with a fellow who wants to take the Legislature back to the bad old days when the governor controlled every move of the House and Senate.

On the other hand, if you follow Speaker Romeo, you may be on the side of the angels, but you also will be in league with a leader who has made you a laughingstock with his bizarre behavior. He is at the top of many folks' soon-to-be-emeritus list. Voting with Richardson may mean you are following a chief headed straight over a cliff. If you side with Perdue, you'll be selling out your peers.

Just think of it. The Sonny & Romeo Show may turn out to be among Georgia's most action-packed thrillers since the long-running Yazoo Land Fraud bombshell, also brought to you by Legislative Productions. Not suitable for children or many adults, S&R opens next week in the Gold Dome theater in downtown Atlanta. Don't miss it.

One more thing: Georgia has achieved superlative standing in another field. In a different era, we would have stood and cheered. We are among the fastest-growing states in the nation. We'll soon have 10 million souls living on Georgia soil. Demographers have been telling us for years that Georgia was about to experience runaway growth.

Growth means prosperity, doesn't it? Well, not always. Somebody forgot to send the growth memo to Sonny. Otherwise, he might have upgraded the infrastructure to get ready for the crush. Oh, well, the next guv can tend to it, while Sonny further hones his act in the U.S. Senate.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, or e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net.