Boone Pickens Birthday Party and Other Stories from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference

I didn’t get a chance to post this story before I left town but this was a very interesting event………

Welcome back.  On the roof of the building snipers in full combat gear stand with rifles in hand. The botanical gardens block their view of one side of the building but dozens of men in suits and ties with that distinctive little wire poking out from under their shirt collars and running into their ears, also patrol the area. A closer look reveals a man on the street who appears homeless but also has a wire going into his ear. Uniformed officers are posted at every entrance to the building and when I saw the additional cops, dogs and surveillance cameras inside I knew there wouldn’t be trouble at this event.

This my friends was the setting for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City last week. Although I am not into politics I found the conference quite enlightening and after reading this I hope you will too.

The conference was held in the Cox Convention Center which is part of the Myriad Botanical Gardens complex and is close to Bricktown, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and several major hotels. Its primary use is that of large scale convention and meeting facility. The center hosts major concerts, conferences, and other large scale events and includes multiple meeting rooms, conference and convention space, dining halls, and a 15,000 seat multi-purpose arena.

Immediately across the street is the Chesapeake Energy Arena where the Oklahoma City Thunder play basketball and the Oklahoma City Memorial is also nearby. This part of Oklahoma City is a great place for a visit and if you haven’t already, I recommend you check it out.

I had the opportunity to visit with several of the speakers including former Texas Governor Rick Perry who told me, among many other things, that he was an Eagle Scout and has written a book about scouting called “On My Honor: Why The American Values of the boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.”

I learned from Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum that he had authored several books and I found his comments about the writing and publishing process very interesting as I am working to put a book out myself. Governor Jeb Bush was very accessible and in addition to his policy statements, he highlighted his love for his father and his brother.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey projects a very straightforward, tell it like it is approach but I discovered he is also a big softie when it comes to his feelings for his family.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was on hand of course and she graciously filled in for the Presidential candidates who were delayed in Washington, telling the crowd of over two thousand about all that Oklahoma has to offer.

The conference wasn’t just about politics. Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb interviewed Larry Nichol, CEO of Devon Energy about selling oil overseas and Harold Hamm of Continental Resources gave a talk on energy as well.

More governors, senators and house republicans took the podium during the three day conference as the Republican Party revs up for a very interesting Presidential election.

On Friday I had some real fun when I was invited to T. Boone Pickens eighty-seventh birthday party. A legend in the oil and gas business, T. Boone started his career working for Phillips Petroleum Company before starting his own company, Mesa Petroleum, in 1956. Mesa is now one of the largest independent energy companies in the country and T. Boone has not only made millions of dollars but he has also given millions away to many worthy causes.

If you haven’t heard, T. Boone has joined Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and many other wealthy individuals who have signed a “giving pledge”, committing to giving a sizeable portion of their wealth to charity. T. Boone has been inducted into both the Texas and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and as you might imagine his birthday party was one of the highlights of this three day event for me.

I’ll send this week with a quote from Waite Phillips which seems appropriate:

“To become competent in governing others, we must first learn to govern ourselves.”

Till next week, I’ll see ya down the road……