Time for Bill Sorrell to make a dignified exit

One of the proudest moments of my blogging career was in May 2012, when Vermont Eternal General Bill Sorrell was launching his re-election campaign. In his speech, he said “I’ve been called a two-fisted attorney general, and there’s a reason for that.”

Welp, turned out that the only person who’d called him a “two-fisted attorney general” was Yours Truly. And it was meant as sarcasm.

Of course, when it comes to Himself, our E.G. suffers from extreme myopia. He can’t see that anybody might dislike or disrespect him.

But in fact, there’s widespread evidence that Sorrell is rapidly becoming the Chuck Noland of Vermont politics, marooned on a desert island, holding endless conversations with his sole companion, a volleyball named Wilson.

On top of that, there’s the continuing string of embarrassing revelations about Sorrell’s naked-emperor tenure as A.G. The latest, from Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, concerns a misbegotten lawsuit against major oil companies over the gasoline additive MTBE.

When Sorrell announced the suit last year, he billed it as a courageous gambit on behalf of consumers and the environment. But as Heintz reports, there are two big problems with that characterization:

— Sorrell filed the suit at the instigation of a top law firm that does a very healthy business in representing state Attorneys General in lucrative litigation. And routinely gives significant campaign cash to AGs like Sorrell.

— The suit was filed at a very late date, and will probably go nowhere as a result. Other states filed MTBE suits, and received big settlements, years ago. New Hampshire got its sweetheart deal way back in 2004. Which makes one wonder why the hell our Two-Fisted Eternal General didn’t take the copycat route way back then.

Apparently he couldn’t come up with the idea on his own, even though the New Hampshire suit was big news at the time. He didn’t think of it until his big-time lawyer buddies floated the idea.

Makes me wonder how many other times our T.F.E.G. was similarly asleep at the wheel. And remember, his supposed courage in taking big corporations to court is the foundation of his reputation.

The last time I wrote a piece about Sorrell’s dumbassery and possible crookery, I got a whole lot of compliments about it the next time I spent a day at the Statehouse. I have since gotten further communications that make it clear Sorrell has very few friends left in Vermont politics. Heintz’ column includes comments from some of our top officeholders who make it clear they want nothing to do with Sorrell’s increasingly self-soiled reputation.

If Bill Sorrell had any capacity for authentic self-examination, he would probably decide that this should be his last term as our T.F.E.G. He could coast out of office to broad acclaim — mainly from those who’d be relieved to see his retirement. It’d be like Derek Jeter collecting accolades while having a truly wretched 2014, playing every day and sabotaging the Yankee lineup by insisting on batting second, and yet being universally hailed as the Living Embodiment of Baseball.

However, since Bill Sorrell seems to be completely lacking in capacity for authentic self-examination, it’ll take quite a bit of persuading to convince him not to run for re-election next year. Here’s hoping the Democratic Party and its leaders are up to the task.

Also, here’s hoping TJ Donovan has the stones to challenge our T.F.E.G. once again. If he were to lose again, he’d put his political future in serious doubt. But if he were to win, or force Sorrell to take the Jeter route, he would be doing the state a huge service. We need a real Attorney General, not the uncritical doofus who currently occupies the office.


6 thoughts on “Time for Bill Sorrell to make a dignified exit

  1. Fred Woogmaster

    Bill Sorrell will not run again, in my opinion. Although I agree with much of what you say, I cringe a bit at the way you say it. Sorrell is a product of “the good old girl” system (Esther Sorrell) and maybe living a life determined more for him than by him. “Some of my best friends” fit that description. (more to be pitied than blamed?). I am extremely unhappy with his performance in office, especially his responses to police violence and abuse of force. If he has “done the best he could with what he had” may he enjoy his retirement. If only it began tomorrow!

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      That may be true, but when he occupies a position of such importance, he must be answerable for his performance. Or, as Uncle Ben put it, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

      1. Fred Woogmaster

        Although I frequently agree with your thoughts, “he must be answerable for his performance” for example, there are times when I believe your words to be unnecessarily mean spirited. Life is not such a bowl of cherries – even for those on top. I appreciate your effort of bringing truth to power. Thank you.

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        Well, I often find Vermont’s political discourse to be overly reserved. We are too polite, too ready to overlook the failings of the high and mighty. I throw myself on the other end of that fulcrum once in a while.

  2. newzjunqie

    How could he have friends in the legislature given the gorilla in the room, that is the bodycount of VTers gunned down or tazed to death many if not most mentally ill or in crisis? Sad to say he has VTs gun problem is senseless cop killings of unarmed VTers. Where’s the shame?


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