I wasn't kidding, folks. At the very bottom of my last post of Friday, July 25, about Jimmy Fahrenholtz's appeal of the qualification challenge against him, I left a "Note to My Readers" in which I said, quote, "I'm leaving in the morning for my annual two weeks of sanity in Red Lodge, Montana. ... If past years are any indication, the fertilizer will hit the oscillator at least once while I'm gone. It never fails."

  Well, no sooner than my flight touched down in Billings did state Sen. Derrick Shepherd flame out in a most spectacular fashion. See WWL-TV's web site for some great reporting on this. Cutting to the chase, he has been arrested by Jefferson Parish deputies for simple battery, unauthorized entry of a dwelling, and theft of over $500 after allegeldy fighting with his ex-girlfriend and allegedly stealing her cell phone.  But wait, there's more ... 

  Literally and figuratively, we can't make this stuff up. The guy is already under major federal indictment on charges that could put him away for a long, long time. Maybe he figures he has nothing else to lose. Then again, maybe his critics are right: he is absolutely shameless.

  If the charges are true, this will have to go down as one of the more outrageous downfalls in Louisiana history. Not only does he commit (allegedly) another felony, but also he has the brass to just go home and order up a lap dance.  That's not a misprint:  he orders up a LAP DANCE!  What?  Was he celebrating something? And when the cops arrive to arrest him (his ex called JPSO after he allegedly hit her, after he allegedly broke into her home), he allegeldy tried to usher the broads out the back door. Oops! The cops were there, too, sources say. So the cops go into his house and find not just the two, um, entertainers, but also his ex's cell phone. I don't know if her version of events will hold up, but her take on things is looking good so far.

When Channel 4 caught up with him for his perp walk (actually, it was upon his release on bond, but I just love that term), he had the nerve to say that this was all about his ex allegeldy threatening his mom and his sister. Oh, puh-LEEZE! This guy has no shame. He's busted in his own home with a stripper -- um, I mean, a consenting adult -- giving him a lap dance on his sofa while the allegeldy stolen goods are in the same house, and he has to drag his poor mama into all this?

Just so you get the depth of this guy's shamelessness, here's a direct quote from his post-arrest interview: "Obviously, because of whatever circumstances I've been going through, people have saw it fit to call me names and call me out and challenge me and things like that. That's fine. I can handle that. I have broad shoulders. I will not tolerate someone attacking or threatening my mother or my sister. If you do that, you have a problem with me. And there's going to be some consequences and repercussions. And that goes for anybody. Thank you. And the only thing I'm guilty of is not calling the police first myself."

Okay, we could have a field day parsing this, but let's just pick the low-hanging fruit -- I am, after, supposed to be fly fishing right now. First, there's the line about "whatever circumstances I've been going through," as if his federal indictment and impending jail time are not really happening, or perhaps as if not that many people know about it. Then there's his butchered syntax, "people have saw fit..." Does this guy actually get to vote on education bills? Then there's the open-ended threat, "there's going to be some consequences and repercussions. And that goes for anybody." Um, can we add public intimidation to the list of charges against him?

But then comes the crown jewel: "Thank you."

No, senator, thank YOU for making New Orleans the absolute best political news town on the planet. Seriously, we cannot make this stuff up. HBO doesn't need to hire any writers for its next hit series -- just come down to New Orleans and follow the news! In particular, read the blogs!

One more thing, folks. If you've stayed with me this far, God bless you.  I want to reward you. Here's something you have not seen or heard anywhere else about Derrick Shepherd. I have confirmed this with two unimpeachable sources:

If you thought for even a minute that Derrick Shepherd might just be the victim of some sort of witch hunt, perish the thought. If you considered the possibility that maybe he was an honorable guy when he first ran for office and just got sucked into the fast lane, fuhgeddaboutit. Back when Shepherd was still in law school, he did an internship with the Jefferson Parish DA's office. He was assigned to Second Parish Court, which is traffic court for the West Bank. After about a month or so, a senior supervisor in the office got a call from a judge at Second Parish Court expressing concern about the "new black DA" who was handling cases in Second Parish Court in a rather cavalier fashion. The supervisor was non-plussed. There had only been two black assistant DA's in the history of the office, and at that time both of them had moved on -- one was a sitting judge,in fact. When the supervisor asked whom the judge was talking about, the judge said, "You know, that new black DA -- Shepherd." The supervisor was stunned. When he called the section chief, he learned that Shepherd had been left unattended a few times and, during those times, he posed as a full-fledged DA working for John Mamoulides. Not just as a lawyer, but a prosecutor! He was arguing cases and signing documents as if he were a DA! When the supervisor confronted him about it, he just shrugged if off as if to say, "Why is this a big deal?"


Shepherd did not pick up his alleged dishonesty in the Legislature folks. He brought a truckload with him the day he arrived.

On an unrelated note, on top of everything else that's happening there's an out-of-control wildfire less than 2 miles from the house my buddies and I rented up here in Red Lodge, Montana. Lots of folks have already been evacuated, and this is about to "go national." They're calling it the Cascade Fire because it started (they suspect it was man-caused, probably by some campers) near a campground known as Cascade. If you want to pinpoint it, it's in the Custer National Forest a few miles Southwest of Red Lodge, Montana, on the West Fork of Rock Creek, on both sides of a road known as West Fork Road. It's completely out of control and approaching 2,000 acres of burned forest.  It could be weeks before this thing is "under control."  Sometimes they just let 'em burn until the snow falls.  I'm not kidding. 

Now, before anybody gets too upset about the fire, I should share some wisdom about forest fires that I got from my friend Cavan Fitzsimmons, a Folsom, LA, native who now works for the U.S. Forest Service out this way:  Forest fires are actually part of nature's balance. We get huge fires nowadays because we take so many steps to keep them from happening and/or spreading on their own (from lightning strikes, e.g.). Because we've gotten pretty good at "preventing" forest fires, the natural cycle of forests burning every 40-50 years or so has been interrupted. By the time most forests do catch on fire, the trees and underbrush is so dry and SO READY TO BURN that they quickly escalate to thousands of acres. What the national news often fails to report is that this is part of nature's cycle. Yeah, it will look bad for a few years, but then the same scorched earth will regenerate intospe ctacular greenery that will eventually become a forest once again, over the course of decades. It's nature's way. So, the same acres that are burning now will look absolutely lush in 5-10 years, which in turn will provide incredible habitat for wildlife.

Meanwhile, enjoy the Shepherd sideshow. More from Montana later.