Laugh till it hurts

How Moroun's new mailer stretches the truth

Aug 22, 2012 at 12:00 am

That Moroun clan. What a bunch of jokers. 

Here at the Hits we're still chuckling over the latest comedic offerings sent our way by the benevolent owners of the Ambassador Bridge. You know them. They are the people who so love the residents of Michigan that they're willing to spend millions upon millions of dollars — $4.6 million, give or take — to keep us from making the cataclysmic mistake of letting Canada fund a new bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit.

Yes, they love us enough to shell out all that cash and jump through all the necessary hoops to get a referendum placed on the November ballot that, if approved by the Board of Canvassers, will allow voters to decide the fate of proposed international border crossings.

You know, like the new bridge Gov. Rick Snyder says is going to be built, regardless of what happens with this proposed ballot measure.

So, billionaire Matty Moroun and his kin want you to decide. In fact, that's what they're calling their initiative: "The People Should Decide."

This is how the Morouns and their bridge company explain things on the campaign's official website:

"The People should decide whether state government may construct or finance new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles. Consistent with this policy and to shield the people from unnecessary burdens, the state shall not undertake ownership and the development or use of state funds or resources for new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles unless first determined to be necessary and appropriate by majority vote of the people."

Of course, the website makes no mention of the fact that this effort is entirely being paid for by a company that stands to lose as much as 70 percent of its business if it has to face something as nefarious as actual competition!

Which is why the company was willing to spend so much to collect more than 600,000 signatures in order to make sure this referendum gets on the ballot.

But that's just the start. Now that the signatures have been collected, the whole thing's going to be just a very, very expensive effort in futility unless you, the people, decide things the way the company wants you to decide them. 

And so mailers are showing up at the homes of prospective voters. A mailing, by the way, that has earned the cry of "FOUL!" from those killjoys over at the Michigan Truth Squad, a project of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Michigan.

Do-gooders that they are, the Truth Squaders apparently labor under the idealistic notion that political discourse — even that involving campaigns — should be honest and factual. When it's not, they helpfully point that out for the rest of us.

In the Truth Squad's opinion, the mailer is, at the very least, a little bit challenged when it comes to truth-telling. (We know, it is shocking — and so unexpected. To think that anyone would ever question the veracity of any statement coming from the bridge company.)

Not outright lies, necessarily, but much shading of the truth to be sure. And that's what had the crew here at the Hits slapping our knees in complete mirth. Especially this bullet point: "If the new government bridge for Canada is such a great economic boon for Michigan why did the Michigan Legislature, repeatedly, vote against it?"

For starters, the one and only reason legislation authorizing construction of a new bridge couldn't make it through the Legislature was because of the no-holds-barred lobbying campaign the Morouns have been waging for years.

It reminds us of that old joke about the guy who murdered his parents and then begged the court for mercy because he's an orphan.

But did the Legislature really refuse to authorize building a new bridge repeatedly?

No way, says the Truth Squad, hitting the flier with one of its many "foul" calls.

Here's the real deal:

"Moroun has lobbied hard against the bridge and has managed to convince enough key Republicans to forestall legislative approval. ... The House, under Democratic control, approved a bridge-related bill in 2010; it stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. It has never come to a vote by the full membership of either the state House or Senate. A state Senate committee in November 2011 decided not to authorize the project by a 3-2 vote."

So much for repeatedly.

Like we said, that Matty Moroun, he's a funny, funny guy.