Getting a stern lecture on political decorum from the likes of me would be similar to being scolded by Hannibal Lecter for indulging in cannibalism. Both reprimands would carry a strong odor of hypocrisy.

Although, that scent might not be as obnoxious if the lessons were served with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

The fact is that, as with the fictional Lecter’s predilection for dining on human flesh, I enjoy candidates and elected officials who misbehave in public. Without them, I’d have to do actual investigative work, such as trying to stay awake during a Libby Mitchell press conference or figuring out who’s spent more time in Maine in recent years – Eliot Cutler or Hurricane Earl.

By that (admittedly low) standard, last week was about as much fun as I could possibly have without the use of illegal chemical stimulants.

It began modestly enough. The Kennebec Journal reported that Democratic legislative candidate Michael “Mick” Devin of Newcastle had put out a press release announcing that he’d be campaigning on a unicycle.

“The unicycle is a great ice breaker,” Devin is quoted as saying. “People open up quickly and want to discuss issues they feel are important.”

Such as where to get good deals on clown shoes, flowers that squirt water and red rubber noses.

Devin is running (unicycling?) against Republican state Rep. Jonathan McKane in House District 51. I haven’t done a lick of research on that race, but, for some reason, I’m sensing an easy McKane victory. Even if he’s unable to campaign because he’s been devoured by cannibals.

The tendency toward unnecessarily making a fool of oneself gained momentum when several news outlets ran stories about Portland City Councilor Dan (The Nuclear Bomb) Skolnik’s latest dispute with his fellow Council members.

Skolnik released a bunch of e-mails that he said showed his colleagues were engaged in a massive conspiracy to ignore him. Also, some of them thought he was crazy. And — imagine this — they’ve accused him of having anger-management issues, just because he called one of them a “spectacular dunce.”

Skolnik had previously announced he would not seek re-election when his term as a district councilor expires later this year. But now, he claims he’s running for an at-large seat as a write-in candidate. He might even win if he convinces the city clerk to add all votes for “Daffy Duck” to his tally.

Skolnik is a liberal Democrat, and gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage is a conservative Republican, but they agree on one thing: When in doubt, go with the wackiest campaign tactics you can think of. In LePage’s case, this involves immersing himself in the school of political discourse called “irrational blundering tirades.”

On Sept. 13, LePage scheduled a series of events to announce his plan to reform state government by allowing businesses to do whatever the hell they want (including cloning Dan Skolnik) for a single $5 fee. At his first stop in Bangor, he got a question he should have anticipated and had a ready answer for:

Had his wife, Ann, invited Hannibal Lecter to her Florida home for dinner?

Oops, sorry. He was actually asked about Ann’s receiving property-tax rebates in both Florida and Maine at the same time, even though those states limit such rebates to residents.

LePage brushed the question off, refusing to answer.

Later that day, in Augusta, he got more of the same at a Statehouse press conference, where nosy reporters wanted to know why his name had been taken off the deed for his Waterville house. Rather than answer, LePage denied it happened, sputtered a bit and stormed out, promising never to discuss the issue again.

He broke that promise a couple of hours later in Portland, offering a confusing explanation that opened the door to even more questions (Who’s managing your campaign, Dan Skolnik?). He also managed to swear at a reporter (Dan taught me that word, and he said it was OK to use when the microphones are turned on).

Whereupon, he returned to Augusta to try to make amends by granting interviews, during which he further confused the issue of where his wife lives, where his kids live, why he doesn’t pay property taxes and whether he can ride a unicycle (Yes, and I can juggle at the same time).

LePage later told reporters the day had been an “absolute disaster.”

He’s right. It’s one thing for soon-to-be-ex-city councilors or soon-to-be-unsuccessful legislative candidates to behave like loons. It’s quite another when the frontrunner for governor does it. It indicates a lack of political smarts, an inability to deal with conflict, an uncertainty about the truth, a disorganized campaign structure, a failure to attract qualified advisers and a habit when rattled of resorting to profanity.

Maybe those are the qualities you’re seeking in a governor.

I know they’re the ones I’m looking for in a column subject. That and a tendency to eat one’s words.

As a diet, it beats whatever goes with fava beans.

Bite back by e-mailing me at