Georgia House Speaker David Ralston was scheduled to be the guest speaker Wednesday evening at a dinner honoring AJC cartoonist Mike Luckovich. But that morning at breakfast, when Ralston opened his AJC, he found an eye-opening surprise:
Ralston admitted later to being a bit taken aback. “What a coincidence,” he thought, that his first starring role in a Luckovich cartoon would occur that very day. But to his credit he never thought about withdrawing from the event, which was sponsored by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
Pretty soon, in fact, the phone began to ring with calls from folks eager to laugh with him at the cartoon.
“My mother called today and said, ‘If you’ve gained that much weight, it’s time to come home’,” Ralston joked.
That evening, however, sponsors of the dinner were a little nervous, worried that hard feelings might mar the event. As it turned out, the concern was groundless.
When Luckovich showed up at the Woodruff Arts Center to receive the foundation’s highest award, the 2010 Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award, he brought with him the original version of the cartoon to present as a gift to Ralston.
In the margins of the cartoon, he left a note pointing out that he had once drawn Ralston’s famous predecessor, the late Speaker Tom Murphy, wearing nothing but a diaper. In other words, nothing personal. A grinning Ralston gladly accepted the cartoon.
“Your honoree and I had a private discussion earlier,” Ralston told the audience in his remarks a few minutes later. “Since I believe in reciprocating, I brought you a little something.”
Summoning Luckovich to the podium, Ralston reached into his pocket and pulled out a black garter, handing it to a gleeful Luckovich.
Calling Ralston “a really good guy,” Luckovich promised that he would never draw the speaker again.
Well, at least not naked. The speaker was no doubt grateful, and so are the rest of us.