Wisconsin Gov. Anthony S. Earl (D) has stirred his constituents imagination, and a potential squabble, by inviting suggestions for a new license plate. The old plates -- black on yellow -- identify Wisconsin as "America's Dairyland."
Predicting "You'll wonder where the yellow went," Earl opened the doors to what turned out to be more than 1,000 bright and not-so-bright ideas. One suggested a plate punched full of holes, with the slogan: "Say cheese." Another offered, "The state of udder delights."
A committee winnowed the field to 20 and Earl picked the five final designs to be submitted to public referendum.
Two use the old slogan, but in the red-and-white colors of the University of Wisconsin. One is a slogan-free design featuring a sailboat and a barn. One says, a bit defensively, "We like it here." The last identifies Wisconsin as "America's northern escape," perhaps referring to the late Al Capone's hideaway near the border with Illinois.
With a week to go, more than 50,000 ballots have been cast. Earl says he will recommend whichever design wins, but the final choice rests with the legislature. Dairy interests are rallying to preserve the old slogan.
Earl ruled out of consideration a suggestion from some of his aides: "Eat cheese or die."