Some critics wonder where I get off commenting on Fargo issues, which I'm about to do. After all, I live in south-central North Dakota. Well, for one thing, according to a legislative model I've seen, I'm likely to be gerrymandered out of Trump territory into a liberal Fargo district. That explains why I'm a candidate for Best Columnist in Forum Communications' Best of the Red River Valley Competition.

Last year, I finished 11th in the Inforum contest. Out of 10. I was so far south on the tally, I woke up in Buenos Aires. This year, however, I'm putting on a full-court press, shaking hands and kissing babies. (Note to self: Don't mix those up.) I also love puppies, kitties, and helping old ladies cross the street. You can vote as many times as you like at so it's just like a real election.

The inimitable Jim Shaw, with his sincere “conscience of North Dakota” persona, won last year. Now, I respect Jim, a New England native and therefore not one of us, so I can't think of anything derogatory to say about him, I just wonder why he hates the Minnesota Twins. And actual children who are twins. He and horticulturist Don Kinzler have been locked in a death struggle ever since Don, a fellow nominee, killed Jim's Boston Fern while he was plant-sitting. We're not even going to discuss the iguana.

Then there's the effusive Tammy Swift, America's Sweetheart, who inexplicably shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. But who am I to judge? I will say that while I’m unsure if homicide is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, I feel it should be.

The brilliant and eternally warm and fuzzy Mike McFeely has also received a well-deserved nomination. I'm a little concerned about McFeely though since he and conservative scribe Rob Port are in agreement over the debacle surrounding the inept attempt to recall the Fargo School Board. When Port and McFeely agree — both think it was ridiculous — we are clearly teetering on the precipice of the Apocalypse. Don't cross the streams, fellas.

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Which brings us full circle to my introduction. Why am I interested in the now-defunct recall effort by a bunch of clueless Mean Girls? Entertainment value, mostly. Initially, I was offended when the “organizers” managed to get a third of the signatures on the petitions disqualified for numerous infractions, then I had to admit this is indeed a glaring indictment of the educational system. To be fair, though, 67% is still a D+ in North Dakota and an A in Texas.

Many of the signatures weren't even from the Fargo School District, and that offended my ethical sensibilities, too, until I remembered that I'd just qualified for the Best of the Red River Valley Competition. From McIntosh County. Still, if I made that many mist@K*es in my columns, I'd be drummed out of Fargo. If I lived there.

For the record, I'd intended to vote for McFeely until I learned that in a recent game of one-on-one in the pressroom, Port slam-dunked on him. He didn't stick the landing, but still.

In the meantime, I think we should recall Shaw. Or storm The Forum, at least.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.