Let me state up front, I've never been a big fan of naming buildings, roads, bridges or anything else for that matter, after a politician. Heck, if you go to Washington, D.C., you can see the J. Edgar Hoover building or the Regan airport or a hundred other examples of political ego pushed to the extreme.

I've always thought that, if you're going to name a building or other structure, it should be after somebody who really did something to create it.

How about the Taxpayer's Bricktown Ballpark instead of the AT--T-formerly-known-as-Southwestern-Bell-or-other-corporate-big-wig-we-bought-the-naming-rights Ballpark.

That would make more sense.

Honestly, very few politicians have truly earned the right to have anything named after them -- especially here in Oklahoma.

Except, maybe, one: The late Mike Synar.

You remember Synar, don't you?

Synar represented Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional district in Congress for eight terms. He was first elected in 1978 at the age of 28.

And he was an ardent foe of the big tobacco.

For 16 years Synar -- with the help of former Attorney General Jan Eric Cartwright -- fought big tobacco. They fought hard.

And after Cartwright's death, Synar stood alone.

In fact, in 1994, Synar's fight with big tobacco cost him his congressional seat. Synar was narrowly defeated in a Democratic primary run-off election by Virgil Cooper, a retired high-school principal.

Cooper spent about $20,000 in his campaign. But millions were spent by outside interests: Including the National Rifle Association, tobacco companies, and cattlemen. And by the time these political vultures had finished their attack, they'd painted Synar as the sole reason for almost every Oklahoma problem. They beat him up real good.

And they got him out of office.

That fall, Cooper was beaten by a Republican doctor, Tom Coburn.

Then, just a few years later, many of the nation's attorneys general -- including Oklahoma -- successfully sued the country's largest tobacco companies for billions.

Oklahoma's share of that settlement is more than $300 million, according to officials in the State Treasurer's office. Each year, the revenue from that fund is used for smoking prevention and cessation programs; this year that amounts to about $6.8 million. And, our settlement fund is the only one in the nation that's constitutionally protected -- meaning it takes a statewide vote of the people to change it.

Of course, none of this would have happened without Synar.

Brave, brilliant and sincere, Synar went down fighting. He stood for what he believed in, despite the cost.

He did the right thing.

And now, today, Oklahoma politicians across the political spectrum take credit for the tobacco settlement fund and its work.

Sadly Synar's been forgotten.

And, since his death at the age of 45 from a brain tumor, his legacy and his stamp on our state's history has also faded.

It's time to change that.

It's time to change the name of the Oklahoma Tobacco Endowment Settlement Trust Fund to the Mike Synar Memorial Trust Fund. It's time to give credit where it's due.

It's time to recognize Synar for leading -- almost by himself -- the fight against big tobacco.

It's time to honor Mike Synar.

In Oklahoma, Synar's name has all but been eliminated from the history of the tobacco settlement. That's wrong. I find it ironic that the American College of Physicians offers a national public service award in honor of Synar's work against smoking and here he's nothing more than historical reference.

Then again, a prophet is never recognized in his home land.

So here's the deal: Governor Henry and members of the Legislature should develop and pass legislation which changes the name of the trust fund.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson -- who ran against Synar years ago -- should support the call. Edmondson, a decent honorable AG, would win the love of thousands by that one, simple action.

State lawmakers across the spectrum -- if they really believe in truth -- should support the change.

And for once, Oklahoma's history would truly reflect those who helped make it.

Like I said earlier, I'm not much for naming things after those of the political persuasion; but in this case, it's time.

It's time to honor the late Mike Synar.