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News » Deep End

A New Man

John Swallow scurries to repair his image


  • Jon Kilborn

“When the facts come out, I believe people will know I’m not guilty of anything that is alleged and I’m innocent of most of the wrongdoings.” —Utah Attorney General John Swallow, as reported by ABC 4, June 14

Visitors strolling past the embattled Attorney General’s Office last Thursday at approximately 12:07 p.m. heard a collective groan and much gnashing of teeth behind the wooden door with its ornately
carved Great Seal of the State of Utah. Inside, Mr. Swallow’s handlers were huddling before the TV, watching their boss attempting to deny the rapidly accumulating charges of corruption.

Mr. Swallow’s handlers had been holding their breath as he responded to the TV reporter’s questions, doing a pretty good job of hitting all the talking points they had rehearsed with him: false and malicious charges, rush to judgment, media out to get him, persecuted by enemies, protecting children and old people, et cetera, et cetera.

The handlers winced when Mr. Swallow tried to refute bribery charges by saying that Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, would never be bribed by a Republican like him. What, only a fellow Republican would accept a bribe? One of the handlers actually slapped his head and muttered something about how Swallow had pulled a Mitt Romney, who had memorably denied employing illegal aliens to cut his lawn because he was running for office, for Pete’s sake.

Nevertheless, despite his nervous smile, shifty eyes and the sheen of sweat forming on his upper lip, Mr. Swallow seemed to have acquitted himself as well as could be expected. Then came his assertion that he was “innocent of most of the charges.” All at once came the collective groan and gnashing of teeth heard by the aforementioned visitors to the Utah Capitol.

“This is like Nixon saying he was just partly a crook,” quipped one of Mr. Swallow’s handlers. “I knew we shouldn’t have let him go out there to answer questions. After smiling Rod Decker made him squirm earlier in the week with questions about golf-resort freebies, we should have just refused all further TV appearances. Well, back to the drawing board.”

Now on the drawing board, according to highly placed sources, is a bold new plan to rehabilitate Mr. Swallow’s image. No more will the attorney general be allowed to open his mouth and stick his guilty foot all the way back to his uvula. In fact, reporters will be kept well beyond shouting distance. Mr. Swallow’s handlers don’t want their boy to find himself in one of those embarrassing 60 Minutes situations, where he ducks his head and runs from a microphone-wielding wise guy.

Mr. Swallow’s handlers know that he is ill-equipped to brazen it out when confronted with uncomfortable questions, unlike his mentor and idol, Mark “The Muscle” Shurtleff, who is an accomplished practitioner of the bugger-off stare. Mr. Shurtleff, who fancies himself a swashbuckling gaucho, has privately told intimates that his erstwhile protégé and manservant Swallow is sadly deficient in the cojones department.

His handlers plan to make a virtue of Mr. Swallow’s cojones deficiency by emphasizing his softer side. Accordingly, plans are already in place to demonstrate that the ethically challenged attorney general has it in him to be as helpful to children and old people as he has been to con men and flim-flam artistes. In the coming weeks, the Attorney General’s Office will provide photo opportunities of a helpful and caring attorney general humbly at work.

First up will be a series of visits to long-term care facilities (known technically as old folks’ homes), where Mr. Swallow, equipped with a protective surgical mask, will spoon-feed the inmates and empty bedpans. Next up will be a stint at Primary Children’s Hospital, where Mr. Swallow will hand out teddy bears to very sick-looking toddlers, carefully selected beforehand by his handlers.

Building on the theme of being nice to kids, Mr. Swallow will head over to an elementary school to pass out all-day suckers and perform life-saving duties for darting students. Handlers have hired a stunt driver to drive into the intersection, where Mr. Swallow will (hopefully) save a second-grader from a speeding automobile.

Finally, to improve the attorney general’s image with the ladies, his handlers have arranged for him to visit a strip-mall nail salon, where he will offer free foot massages. Mr. Swallow wanted to follow that up with a photo op at one of his favorite pay-day lenders, but after much argument, his handlers were able to put the kibosh on that idea. 

D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.