The Sultan of Searchlight

News reports had fun with the Senate Majority Leader’s sniffled remark that the debt ceiling drama was keeping him from his garden, but Jon Stewart had more fun. It was hard on everyone, Stewart said, but especially hard on senior citizens, one senior citizen particularly. Cue: news footage of Harry Reid.

“I have a home in Nevada that I haven’t seen in months,” said Reid. “My pomegranate trees are, I’m told, blossoming and have pomegranates on them. I have some fig trees and roses that I just haven’t seen.” To this, after a Daily Show-sized pause, an incredulous Stewart responded, “Your pomegranate and fig trees are blooming? What are you? The Sultan of Reno?”  

Adopting a faintly British accent to inhabit said sultan, Stewart continued, “Sometimes the mists of eucalyptus would settle over my fields of pistachios. My harem would prepare me a plate of candied dates and polish

How it’s done in the desert

A REMORSELESS game of political chess being played out by the two driest states in the country moved inexorably toward checkmate last week in Washington DC.

Mount Wheeler, the peak whose snowmelt feeds this stream in the Great Basin Desert, stands in Nevada. But Wheeler’s water serves Snake Valley, which straddles the Nevada-Utah border.

Congressional maneuvering over which state has the rights to how much of Mt Wheeler’s water began in 2004, when in a land bill pushed by the Nevada delegation, Congress granted right of way for a Las Vegas pipeline that would eventually run hundreds of miles into the Great Basin to tap Snake Valley.

But hours before the vote, Utah Senator Bob Bennett slipped a clause into the bill dictating that no water could be taken from border valleys without Utah’s consent.

As negotiations took

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