Mike Turpen may be one of the most optimistic men alive; after all, he’s been a leading Democrat in Oklahoma’s staunchly Republican political landscape for decades.
He’s also a funny guy, overflowing with aphorisms, folk wisdom and quips that get people thinking beyond their immediate laughter. I had the fortune of sharing a meal recently with Turpen, a former Oklahoma attorney general, who talked about books, travel, family and his political and legal careers.
These days, much of his time is spent on fundraising and co-hosting the local television program “Flash Point.”
We also spoke, albeit briefly, about his new book, “Turpen Time: The Wit and Wisdom of Mike Turpen: 50 Shades of Life.” The book, published by an Oklahoma press, is a series of short chapters recounting episodes from his life; all are preceded by a pithy saying representative of the topic.
His life has been memorable. As he notes in the preface, Turpen has served a variety of roles over time.
“I’ve been a Tulsa World paperboy, a Colgate-Palmolive soap salesman, a Sears Santa Claus, a Steak & Ale waiter, and a McKissick Products forklift operator,” he wrote. “I’ve also been a Muskogee Police Department legal adviser, a Muskogee County district attorney, attorney general of Oklahoma, and a Democratic candidate for governor of Oklahoma.”
Throughout it all, he’s operated by “ES, EM, ED,” a simple mantra encouraging himself and others to make the most of life by consciously experiencing “Every Second, Every Minute, Every Day.”
Some chapters in the book are amusing; others are poignant. Most successfully straddle the partisan line, while acknowledging that Turpen was a player in Democratic politics, particularly during the Clinton era.
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