‘Nevadan on purpose’ exits reviling and revering

Craig Ferguson, television’s zany Late, Late Show host, published memoirs he called American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot after becoming a United States citizen.

It’s a rowdy romp from his days as a roly poly, school-hating Scottish kid through punk rock drummer days and druggie/alky stand-up comedic gigs, then on to cleaned-up acting/screenwriting and his present persona among TV’s Johnny Carson wannabes.

In his book, he leaves the impression that one of his greatest triumphs is his citizenship achievement. Ferguson emerged as a star by leveraging fun, but also is happy to share his serious side.

“I am proud of my heritage,” he writes.” I will always be Scottish in my heart, but my soul is American, which means: between safety and adventure, I choose adventure.

“Scottish by birth, but American on purpose.”

Those words closed his book, but a few pages earlier I had learned this foreign-born compatriot of mine really understands the reason.

“America truly is the best idea for a country that anyone has ever come up with so far,” he said. “Not only because we value democracy and the rights of the individual but because we are always our own most effective voice of dissent.”

He apparently knows the road to self-correction is smart self-expression, sometimes by comforting the afflicted or afflicting the comfortable (which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily always mean the comfortably well-off). As he put it:

“We must never mistake disagreement between Americans on political or moral issues to be an indication of their level of patriotism. If you don’t like what I say or don’t agree with where I stand on certain issues, then good. I’m glad we’re in America and don’t have to oppress each other over it.”

I couldn’t have chosen better words for my final column at the Reno News & Review. So Ferguson’s words set up some Reviled and Revered brickbats and bouquets as this Nevadan-on-purpose exits stage semi-right.

1) BOTH reviled and revered: Republican primary voters last spring. They gave us Sharron Angle and Sen. Harry Reid; he then won another term despite his record. But they also gave us Brian Sandoval, who will be a great governor.

2) REVILED: Aforementioned GOP challenger Sharron Angle and Happy-Days-Ain’t-Here-Again Harry Reid. Their campaigns made a mockery of Ferguson’s quote regarding not being oppressive. Their ads oppressed me, even depressed me at times.

3) REVERED: Assemblyman-elect Pete Livermore, my friend Andrea “Ande” Engleman, GOP State Party Chairman Mark Amodei and associates who ran Livermore’s refreshingly clean campaign in the Carson City area. He’ll represent me from the 40th Assembly district, and his race renewed my faith that clean politics can be well done.

4) REVILED: Republicans who castigate folks they call RINOs (Republicans in name only) and offer simplistic, though not simple, solutions for complex problems. Taxes offend, but a sound tax system is necessary. Governments overspend, but growing states (and Nevada will grow again) aren’t like those out-of-control Federal profligates.

5) REVERED: Rich in Carson City, an engaged reader who comments prodigiously on the RN&R website pages. Because Ferguson’s words undoubtedly reflect a shared attitude, I bet the following makes him smile: “Rich, you have every right to be wrong.”

6) BEYOND revered: RN&R editor Brian Burghart and news editor Dennis Myers, who treated me with respect; plus every Nevadan who votes thoughtfully in every election.

To everyone: Be a patriot true to yourself. Adios.