What mixes with drugs and alcohol? Potpourri.

Despite President Obama’s bid to refocus the health care debate, the dispute is mostly bad street theater and useless until the House and Senate act. So let’s shift attention to the death of a lion and a prince, some palaver about guns and drugs, and Nevada government spending oversight.

Yes, dear reader, it’s another potpourri column featuring food for thoughtfulness via items plucked from the news. If I offend, Grin & Barrette.

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After pondering the deaths of the Senate’s Lion and the Prince of Darkness, I’m sure Edward “Teddy” Kennedy and Robert Novak had more in common than you might imagine.

True, the liberal Kennedy and conservative Novak—a longtime columnist/TV personality—had little in common when it came to issues.

But they were major players in D.C. during careers that began in the 1960s. They came up in a time when legislation and opinion journalism still were tethered to, or at least had some passing acquaintance with, facts. Ah, for the good old days.

Another similarity: Conservative colleagues from the Senate spoke glowingly of Teddy the Lion; liberal press colleagues did the same for Robert the Dark Prince. And it wasn’t pro forma, but from the heart in both cases.

The Lion and Prince Noir lasted so long partly because they knew partisanship could be good street theater, but passing legislation or getting the goods for a good column meant working with friend and foe as situations warranted.

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A recent issue of The Economist magazine included an article about Portugal’s experience with what some may call liberal—but I would call sanely libertarian—laws on illegal substances.

Headlined “Treating, not punishing,” the story mentioned bad publicity and problems predicted when Portugal decriminalized drugs years ago.

The article then cited a recent Cato Institute study that found “none of the nightmare scenarios” came to pass. Heroin usage went up just slightly and other drug usage declined. As the guy who handled the study put it: “The apocalypse hasn’t happened.”

I’ve always been puzzled that some conservatives want crackdown drug laws but staunchly defend gun ownership rights, while some liberals flop those positions and seek easing up on drugs while restricting guns.

One fringe element on the right worries that the Obama administration will remove guns from the nation’s citizenry. At the other end, the fringe on the left that backed the president’s election wonders why this former drug-experimenter doesn’t push for liberalized drug laws.

Fancying myself a true conservative who wants government to treat adults as such, I say leave us alone unless we victimize someone else. The nation doesn’t need overzealous officials pursuing drug users or trying to herd us on gun ownership. History shows prohibition doesn’t work well, whether it’s sex, alcohol, drugs or guns.

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Something occasionally reminds me of the Founding Fathers’ wisdom. Nevada’s legislature and governor produced the latest reminder. The conservative Republican governor and Democratic-controlled legislature are fighting over federal stimulus money for Nevada.

Gov. Jim Gibbons got his stimulus overseer but has a legislative oversight panel, headed by Sparks Assemblywoman and Democrat Debbie Smith, monitoring administration stimulus moves. Smith and Gibbons have a history. She pushed through AB463, monitoring state use of consultants, which the governor vetoed. But lawmakers sided with Smith and overrode the veto.

Anyway, our Founding Fathers gave us checks and balances through separation of powers. States followed suit. So those checks and balances, with Nevada’s current partisan divide, mean that $1.2 billion in federal largesse gets tracked via a public fracas. What a stimulating thought.