The old saying is that when opportunity knocks, you’re supposed to answer the door. But it’s with mixed emotions that, after living in Santa Monica for almost 36 years, and having written 300 of these columns, this will be my last “Laughing Matters.”

This might come as a stunner to some, but on May 1 I will be moving to Little Rock, Ark. where I will be one in a group of speech writers in Mike Huckabee’s campaign for president. In 2011 I will be traveling to Iowa and Maine and in 2012, hopefully, to Washington, D.C.

If you’re in shock, join my friends who screamed, “Why are you going to be a speech writer for Mike Huckabee?” It came about via a buddy from my college days who’s closely involved with advisers to the Huckabee campaign. (No, I’m not referring to Chuck Norris, though if I meet him, I hope I don’t say anything about his toupee).

Apparently, some of my columns made their way to the former governor’s staff. This was followed by a series of e-mails and phone calls which led to my receiving an offer to come to Little Rock. The idea of being part of a presidential campaign is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a child and JFK made his historic run at the White House.

I know what many of you must be thinking, Mike Huckabee is no JFK. (Frankly, I’m not sure JFK was really JFK, which is reminiscent of the Cary Grant quote that he too would have liked to have been as suave as Cary Grant.)

To answer the question, “How does a left-leaning liberal Jew wind up working for an evangelical conservative Christian Republican?” I can only say not easily. But I want to point out a few things. One, Huckabee has a great sense of humor. He’d have to, having weighed over 300 pounds while he was governor of Arkansas. (Apparently overweight people can’t be president, the last one being Howard Taft over 100 years ago.)

Another fact few realize is that Huckabee wants to broaden his base and reach out to viewpoints other than his own. This is the one issue which sold me on this job, that being that Huckabee wants to put an end to the divisive, mean-spirited politics that have been the earmark of our country, at least as far back as the Clinton era, if not before.

Like any life-changing move there are drawbacks. In my case, I will miss so many things about Santa Monica, not least of which is the beach. I will be an entire state away from the nearest beach. (Of course with global warming and sea levels rising, that may not be such a bad thing.) And then there’s the weather. Perhaps no states other than Florida or Hawaii can match our weather. To live year-round Florida’s too humid and Hawaii’s too far away and isolated.

I’ll miss Southern California sports, i.e. the Lakers and the Dodgers. (Although the Dodgers may be so bad this year I’ll be lucky not to witness it.) And I’ll miss UCLA sports action, but, then again, so will Bruin fans who stay here. USC sports I won’t miss. As I may have mentioned a few dozen times before, my two favorite teams are UCLA and anybody who’s playing SC. (After repeating that line, I’m guessing you won’t miss these jokes.)

Of course there will be some things I won’t miss. I won’t miss all the nail salons on Main Street. (Santa Monica may be the “nail capitol” of the world.) I won’t miss Downtown Santa Monica and the horrific traffic. (Does anybody know the exact date we lost our charming city to developers?) I also won’t miss the new mall. It’s beautiful but I don’t know any Santa Monicans who actually shop there, or can afford it for that matter. Way to go City Council.

Another thing I certainly won’t miss is the meter maids in Santa Monica, or to be politically correct, “meter persons.” It’s uncanny how if your meter has expired by just one minute, they hone in with a ticket like they’ve got radar. And, speaking of tickets, I won’t miss running away from Animal Control for having Oscar on the beach. (Although some days that’s my best cardio exercise.)

So, as I bid you all good-bye, to those of you who have appreciated my columns over the years, I want you to know that I will miss you. To those of you who disagreed with my views and sent me nasty e-mails, you won’t have Jack Neworth to kick around anymore. So it’s adios Santa Monica, hello Little Rock.

Oh, and one more thing before I say au revoir … happy April Fools’ Day!

If you want to reach Jack, too bad, he’s in Arkansas.

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