"This is not Las Vegas. This is the city of St. Paul.''
City Council Member Lee Helgen is absolutely right: No one has ever confused St. Paul with Vegas. No one sober, anyway, which is the crux of the raging debate over extending bar hours in St. Paul and Minneapolis during the Republican Convention in September.
Eleven days, from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. A mere 22 hours of added bar time designed to show the world that this is a big-time metropolis that can throw a memorable nominating bash. Seems reasonable enough. But a few killjoys are worried about police costs and neighborhood disruption. Imagine the mayhem 3,000 tipsy Republicans could cause in Highland Park at 4 a.m.
All of this bar talk got us wondering about Denver, where the Democrats will hold their superdelegate festival. The mile high bar time is 2 a.m., and we're told there's been no discussion of extending the fun in Colorado.
Frankly, that's surprising. There's a far greater chance the Democrats will find something to squabble about -- maybe even the selection of a nominee -- past the 10 p.m. news. It's much more likely they'll actually need extra bar hours. Is this more conservative approach to bar time an attempt to appeal to family-values voters? Or are there plans for late-night keggers at the hotels?
Back in St. Paul, the liquor marketplace is preparing to serve the GOP in the style to which it has become accustomed, with or without later bar times. Our favorite innovation comes from the historic St. Paul Hotel, which is stocking $525-a-shot scotch for the convention. Take that, Vegas.
To clarify, it'll actually cost $525 for a pony shot, which is 1 ounce. The typical shot of Jack Daniels you might sell a Democrat, with the requisite beer chaser, is 1.5 ounces. But when you're talking 55-year-old single-malt scotch from the Scottish Highlands, only a rube would expect more than an ounce for five bills.
This is all going to be so much fun, why not keep the bars open 24/7 and serve breakfast? Or move the GOP convention to Prior Lake and the spacious Mystic Lake hotel and casino. Comedian Larry the Cable Guy, who's known for the line "Git'r done,'' is already booked for August, but he'd probably sign on for another run during the convention. Not sure how he votes, but he sure seems like a red state guy.
You want Vegas, Republicans, head to Prior Lake. It's a lot more fun than St. Paul or Minneapolis, and with enough notice they'll probably upgrade the scotch. You'll never want to go home.