Here's Gov. Mike Hucka... er, Beebe

September 29, 2008 9:38:10 AM PDT
Arkansas' governor needs a name tag. Mike Beebe has been in office nearly two years, but that hasn't stopped officials in his state from confusing him with his similarly named predecessor, Mike Huckabee. Even the chief of the state's medical school and a state agency director get tongue-tied over the names.

"To my right is Gov. Mike Huckabee," University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson said Friday at a ceremony introducing Beebe. He quickly corrected himself as the audience howled.

"I got half of it right," Wilson said.

Minutes later, Wilson made the same flub.

Physically, the two Mikes don't share a common appearance. Democrat Beebe's silver-gray hair is lighter than Republican Huckabee's dark brown.

Huckabee, who served as the state's governor for 10 1/2 years, also gained fame by losing more than 100 pounds and becoming an avid fitness advocate, a distinction Beebe doesn't have. Huckabee, who campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination, supported Beebe's opponent in 2006 gubernatorial election.

"If Gov. Huckabee were here, he and I would both agree that most of the similarity stops with the name," Beebe said. "I mean, if I lost 100 pounds, you wouldn't even see me."

The confusion provided a bit of levity last month during the funeral for Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney, a close friend of Beebe's who was shot and killed at the party's headquarters. Beebe and former president Bill Clinton took advantage of the Rev. Vic Nixon's reference to the current governor as Huckabee.

"Thank you, monsignor," Beebe responded to the Methodist pastor's introduction at Gwatney's funeral, using a term applied only by Catholics to some of their clergymen.

"If you had introduced me as President Bush, I'd be convinced that Bill Gwatney wrote the script for your service," Clinton later added.

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