Utah County Republicans can be a tough crowd.
After House Speaker Becky Lockhart supported an immigration-reform bill two years ago that included a guest-worker-permit component, the strong enforcement-only group in Utah County walked out of the room when she spoke at the party's Lincoln Day dinner.
Things went more smoothly for Lockhart on Saturday at this year's Lincoln Day dinner, where she was the featured speaker and received a good reception from her fellow Republicans.
But it didn't go as well for Attorney General John Swallow.
Swallow and his wife sat at a table in the front, near the speaker's dais and nobody joined them.
They sat alone like the unpopular kids in the lunchroom, never invited to join the cool kids.
Finally, two of the event organizers asked party insider Keith Kuder and his date to join the Swallows, so the table that accommodated 10 had at least four.
When it was time for Swallow to say a few words, it got worse.
He started out telling the crowd that he knew there were questions about allegations of his involvement with Jeremy Johnson, who is under federal indictment for fraud, and that he intended to address those questions. He built the suspense to a climax, then dramatically answered one question: That Mr. Bates would get out of prison during the new season of "Downton Abbey."
Speaking of tough Republicans • State GOP Secretary Drew Chamberlain, who has become a star in my column of late for making online comments like calling First Lady Michelle Obama "wuff ugly," has been banned from the unofficial Utah Republican Party Facebook page.
That page was established after party chairman Thomas Wright restricted the official GOP page mostly to party business and events, forgoing comments that some felt had become too nasty.
So a group of Republicans started the unofficial page to allow a free flow of comments and dialogue among Republicans.
Chamberlain apparently was too offensive even for that.
The liberals' angst • It seems the Alliance for a Better Utah, a reform-minded nonprofit organization that generally takes on the Utah Legislature over a number of issues, is losing it.
Perhaps the group is succumbing to frustration. It usually runs up against a brick wall in the conservative Legislature when it proposes reforms. When The Salt Lake Tribune, which has agreed with many Alliance for a Better Utah positions on its editorial pages, ran a story giving some credence to the other side, it was just too much for the reformers to take.
The Tribune ran a story Monday about gun-rights advocate Clark Aposhian and his influence on Capitol Hill. The Alliance group responded with apoplexy.
"The Salt Lake Tribune issued a list of corrections today just hours after publishing its story on Utah's lone gun lobbyist, Clark Aposhian," said a press release from Alliance for a Better Utah.
Then the alliance rattled off a satirical list of Tribune corrections.
Among the group's mocking list:
• "Aposhian wears his bluetooth 20 hours a day, not the 14 hours reported by The Tribune."
• "The Tribune said Sen. Margaret Dayton used the word 'disappointed' in a conversation with Aposhian seven times, when in fact, she used it eight times."
• "When The Tribune mentioned that Aposhian's gun-themed tie was his favorite, the paper failed to mention he also has a gun-themed bolo tie and a Civil War era, cannon-themed cravat."
Even John Swallow's "Downton Abbey" joke was funnier than that.