I called Bubba McCoy and told him I wanted to talk about transgender youth and charging stations for electric cars.
"Well, ain't that a coincidence," he said. "I've got a transgender kid out here in the car lot right now looking over my fine selection of electric cars.
"He's--I mean she's--in town to run in the track meet against the other girls. He's--I mean she's--about 6-foot-4 and runs a 9.7 hundred."
Obviously, Bubba brings a certain facetiousness and sarcasm, perhaps even contemptuousness, to important issues.
There was no transgender girl on his car lot, of course. And Bubba'a Auto Emporium of the Delta does not stock electric cars, of course.
I beseeched him to turn serious. Readers statewide await.
What I wanted was for Bubba to react to the Legislature's emphasis on anti-transgender bills and then getting in a spat about taking federal money to build charging stations for electric cars.
On Wednesday, the House said no to a big appropriation in case the federal infrastructure bill passes with tens of millions of dollars for charging stations for electric cars. On Thursday, it approved a much-smaller grant program.
"I think the Legislature doesn't need to be meetin' on nothin'," Bubba said. "I think what this state needs from this Legislature is a good lettin' alone.
"I read your article on that hate-crimes business. I know exactly what happened. The governor and Walmart and Tyson decided we need a hate law only because other states have 'em. But they couldn't pass one, so they passed something else and called it one.
"And here's the kicker: People were hatin' the day after just as much as they had been hatin' the day before."
I told Bubba he might be right, but that I was wondering more specifically what he thought, for example, about saying transgender girls couldn't compete in sports as girls.
"I haven't had a single daddy come in here looking for a car for his cryin' daughter who just got beat in a footrace by a guy-turned-girl. If it ever happens, I'll try to come up with some opinion on it and let you know.
"And I'm going to wager that that daddy and his girl ain't gonna be in the market for no electric car, neither. Unless I miss my guess, they're gonna be looking for a compact SUV that runs on gasoline."
That's surely true, I said, particularly since there aren't charging stations for electric cars in 100 miles or more, which is why Joe Biden and the Democrats are talking about putting money in the infrastructure bill to build them all over the place.
The private sector won't do it absent the demand, and the demand won't happen without the availability, which is where government can and sometimes ought to fill the gap.
"Is that socialism?" Bubba asked.
"I don't care if it is. I'm just wondering what you'd call it."
Socialism is a broad pervasive system. America doesn't do that and won't anytime soon. But the nation has long incorporated semi-socialistic elements in limited areas and often for limited times as a kind of backstop for the gaps left by the capitalist system.
Government-funded charging stations would probably represent a one-time government interjection for the greater good of behaving responsibly for the imperiled environment.
Then, once the electric-car demand picked up, the private sector would come in and do to the government charging stations what FedEx and UPS have done to the Post Office.
"So," Bubba asked, "why doesn't the government buy me some electric cars to sell? Tell me that--Mr. Smarty Pants."
Because no one would buy them because there's no place to charge them in 100 miles.
"When do you think I ought to stock some?"
Since Bubba lives in Arkansas, and in one of its more remote areas, and since we have the Legislature we have and will soon face the tragedy of the next governor we'll have, and since Bubba is of a certain age with high blood pressure, he probably won't need to worry about it.
Oh, one more thing: Might Bubba's view of the transgender issue change if the Razorbacks' men's baseball team was denied the early home-field advantage it has earned for the national championship playoffs because of NCAA sanctions against states discriminating against transgender athletes in the way Arkansas is discriminating?
"You're not going to like my answer," he said.
When had I ever liked his answer?
"I think the wrath of the Hog would come down, not on the state Legislature, but the NCAA," Bubba said.
"Don't punish me for any of that stuff they do over in Little Rock, and don't punish college baseball players either."
I could have argued, but preferred not.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.