Dear Editor:

Sometimes lessons in life come from strange places and in the last couple of weeks they have come from two of the strangest, a rodeo clown and a Twinkie. But they are lessons that every American should learn. I will start with the rodeo clown.

If you had ever been to a Three Hills Rodeo at the Winneshiek County Fair, you are familiar with who I am talking about, Rory Meeks. The rodeo clown that made us gasp and cheer as he fearlessly jumped in between several thousand pounds of raging bull and the poor, hapless bull rider the beast was trying to squash into the ground. During intermissions, he would make us laugh with his antics and acts such as the World's Strongest Chicken. After the rodeo was over, he would stand around and sign autographs for the kids until there were none left, then help disassemble the rodeo arena so they could move on to the next stop. He was a decent, hard-working guy.

The rodeo clown business apparently did not pay well enough, however, and Rory took on a side business to earn extra cash. Unfortunately, that side business was growing pot around the corn and bean fields in rural Jones County and then selling it during the slow winter months from 2004 until he was caught in 2011. He had passed some magical 1,000-plant mark so was tried in federal court and a couple of weeks ago, was found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Now here comes the unbelievable part. He now faces a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in a federal prison, 10 years of probation after that and up to $20 million in fines.

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