Chicken-Fried News: State Crapitol 

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Those who are not on Twitter or for whatever reason choose to totally disengage from local media missed an all-time great moment in Oklahoma political theater in the video of a confrontation between House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Rep. Corey Williams, D-Stillwater.

Tensions were high between the two parties during this special budget session. House Republicans need supermajority approval to pass a proposed tax increase, so they need votes from Democrats, who voted no on any plan that does not include a tax increase on oil and gas companies.

A NewsOK capitol reporter was recording a McCall press conference and captured the spat. Chicken-Fried News is now offering play-by-play analysis. Keep in mind that Williams had been heckling McCall throughout the conference.

1) McCall: “I’m hopeful this passes, and then we’ll talk about that.”

This is where the clip starts, and it is impossible to tell what the question was. Regardless, McCall is clearly focused on the tax increase at hand, and that is where he wants the media focused as well. Note that he said he is “hopeful” that the proposal will pass, not that he is confident it will.

Within earshot of McCall, Williams makes a snide comment.

2) Williams: “You’re delusional if this passes.”

Williams is getting mostly glowing praise from blue-bleeding Okies on how he handled this in teraction, but we quibbling Chicken-Fried Newsers believe this moment was actually a misstep. If this plan were to pass, it wouldn’t make McCall delusional. On the contrary, that kind of success would make him quite the political diplomat. It is likely that Williams meant to say, “You’re delusional if you think this passes,” which would imply that Democrats will never be swayed into voting for the plan.

From here, McCall ends the presser and walks backstage toward Williams. He begins to speak, but Williams interjects.

3) Williams: “Good to see ya!”

His greeting is part antagonistic sarcasm and part nervous bracing. Williams — who has no idea what McCall is about to do or say — is digging in his heels for a potential confrontation.

4) McCall: “You all need to support this; this is bullshit.”

McCall implies that Williams and House Democrats need to get behind this plan. It is a tax increase, after all. Isn’t that something Democrats should be all about? With his “bullshit” comment, the Speaker is indicating his belief that Dem dissension is motivated by political pettiness.

5) Williams: “I’m glad you think so; so does most of Oklahoma.”

What makes Williams’ closing quip a political haymaker is the timing — he does not miss a beat with his comeback. Williams deflects McCall’s implication that Dems are playing political games by stating that most of the state recognizes the plan as flawed.

It is also a well-timed barb in a broader sense, as House Democrats are in need of new vocal leadership following the unexpected resignation of minority leader and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Inman. His demise is a CFN for another day.

 

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