Third House convenes

"Gentlemen, your proceedings have been exactly similar to those of the convention which proceeded you. You have considered a subject which you knew nothing about; spoken on every subject but the one before the house, and voted without knowing what you were voting for or having any idea what would be the general result of your action." --Mark Twain, Third House,1863

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, used his best Agent Smith voice Friday when calling on Assemblyman Bernie Anderson.

The impersonation was a flashback to Thursday night's Third House, a spoof on the 2003 Legislature given a Matrix spin by the capital press corps. While the theme is new, the Third House is a tradition older than the state itself in which journalists spend one evening poking fun at Nevada legislators.

Associated Press correspondent Ben Kieckhefer opened the Third House by playing a tape of the Beatles song "Taxman" into the microphone at the Assembly chambers lectern. "Hope you liked our new state song," he joked before he slammed the gavel.

"The Third House is called to order, but just barely," Kieckhefer said. "Our job is to make fun of all of you out there and try to show what a bunch of dumbbells you are. But the Assembly Ways and Means Committee obviously did a better job of that last night."

Groans erupted from the audience of legislators, staff and lobbyists.

The "mock" legislative body seemed to do just that, taking shots at the other two houses and the issues dealt with during the session -- although sometimes the truth was better than the bad jokes or the burlesque.

In Matrix mode, Kieckhefer donned a pair of shades and intoned ominously into the microphone: "We are about to show you the truth about this matrix known as the Nevada Legislature. Nothing here is real; it has all been created for our amusement and the public's pain.

"We originally tried to create a perfect world, but there was a problem -- you legislators refused to believe it. So, we created an imperfect world, in which Nevada ranked last in every good category and first in everything bad. And that, no one had any trouble believing."

Former Governor of the Third House Mark Twain reported in 1863 that one of the first Third Houses "consisted almost entirely of irrelevant suggestions, comments, and actions by members, and reproofs from the Chair."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

One sketch, featuring fake news, reported that Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Veas, made waves when she introduced a bill mandating all bills be printed on paper made of hemp, a reference to Giunchigliani's campaign to lessen penalties for marijuana possession.

"Creative and pretty much on point. You have to learn to laugh at yourselves in this business," Giunchigliani said.

Legislators leaving the performance had the air of just walking out of a movie theater.

Anderson, D-Sparks, said "It was super. One of the better ones I've seen. The performers had good inflection in their impersonations and I loved the Matrix theme."


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