Bacon And Books Rule Arkansas

He's lost 110 pounds, written the book on middle-age healthcare, and even teamed with old foe Bill Clinton to urge kids off Coke and Big Macs, but the truth is bacon still rules outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's life. The proof is in the pudding, or at least the casserole. It's right there in full living color on his "Farewell Arkansas" card we got in the mail, probably one of the neatest political cards we've ever received. It unfolds to show the state capitol, a family portrait, a message from the guv, and his wife's recipe for green bean bundles: two cans of green beans, one pound of bacon, one cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of butter, and three teaspoons of garlic salt. From his picture, it's clear the guv sticks to the beans but, um, his boys apparently haven't gotten the message of Huckabee's book, Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork: A 12-Step Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle.

But enough snarking. The likely 2008 GOP presidential candidate also did something nice to one of our own this week, U.S. News contributor Suzi Parker, who's based in Little Rock. Her dad is ailing, and the guv phoned her. "He called me to see how my dad was," she says. "Arkansas is a small state." And while he was on the phone he even dropped a newsy nugget: Since his high school days, he has accumulated hundreds and hundreds of books, including an extensive theological library from his college and seminary days and many years as a pastor. "Since becoming governor, I have also collected a number of books, on subjects ranging from current events to health to theology," he told her. But instead of donating them to a library as he leaves the governor's mansion after 11 years, he's giving most to the Arkansas Department of Corrections for inmate libraries. "I'm still in the process of boxing and sorting, and will hopefully complete the task shortly after Christmas but before the New Year," he says.

By Paul Bedard