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Fun on the Campaign Trail

So one day during the campaign, I received a call from Dallas Magazine. I wasn’t sure why Tim Rogers was calling to ask about a certain vicious Internet rumor about Craig James, but two questions in I caught on…

Once and For All: Did Craig James Kill Five Hookers at SMU?

As Zac pointed out, the issue about Craig James and the five purportedly dead hookers left in his wake at SMU has again arisen, with Mike Leach signing one of his books with a funny inscription. Well, a few days ago, I called Craig James’ campaign office in Dallas to get to the bottom of this dead hookers matter. They directed me to James’ spokesperson in Austin, Meredith Turney. What follows is a transcript of our conversation: 

“There’s been a lot of stuff on the internet about Craig James killing the five hookers at SMU. I feel like I know what’s going on, but I haven’t seen, interestingly enough, anywhere a categorical denial that Craig James didn’t kill five hookers at SMU. And so I thought it was important to nail that down.”

“Wow. Um. Actually, we did address that issue. Very early in the campaign, we sent a tweet out letting people know that we’d been Google bombed.”

“I must have missed this tweet.”


“We mentioned in passing that Craig had been the victim of a Google bomb.”

“If you had killed five hookers, then the Google bomb excuse is the perfect cover. Hypothetically, you see what I’m saying.”

“Yeah, no, I can categorically, definitively say that is absolutely untrue. I know that in this day and age of the internet, there’s a lot of things that people like to do to be funny and to ridicule people. But in this case, it’s very disrespectful to another human being to spread a rumor like that. That is despicable. I mean, Craig is a wonderful family man. I have worked with him since the beginning of the campaign, and I have not met—I’ve worked in politics a long time — I have not met a more honorable, decent human being than Craig James. He is a wonderful Christian man, loves his wife, Marilyn. They’ve been married for almost 30 years. He has four beautiful children. And to spread these kinds of rumors is just malicious. And I just find it really despicable that people would stoop to that level to attack a man’s character.”

“I have to ask you a follow-up question.”


“Has Craig James ever enlisted the help of a gang of criminals to take over a skyscraper at the top of which is a vault containing $640 million in untraceable bearer bonds?”

“Are you referring to the movie Tower Heist or something?”

“You’re close. You’re looking for a Bruce Willis vehicle.”

“I’ve never watched any of those films. If it had been a Monty Python reference, I probably would have gotten it.”

“Okay, let me ask you another one. Has Craig James ever taken the tag off a mattress?”

“You know what? I cannot say that I know anything about that.”

“Uh-oh. See, that could be a rumor, then, that could plague him for a long time.”

“I will need to ask him about that.”

“Here’s an easy one. Has Craig James ever eaten a steak made out of panda?”

“I think we can deny that. No, he has never eaten a panda.”

“Has Craig James ever bred a pegasus for the sole purpose of using it as quarry in a hunt?”

“Is that anything like the thing from Napoleon Dynamite? A liger?”

“Throw in a liger. Has Craig James ever bred a liger or a pegasus for the sole purpose of using it as quarry in a hunt?”

“No, no, I don’t think so.”

“Has Craig James ever attacked, or in any way threatened, Councilman Dwaine Caraway with a knife?”

“No, I don’t think that has ever happened.”

“All right. I just have a couple more here. Has Craig James ever built a house atop an Indian burial ground?”

“No, I don’t think that has ever happened.”

“One final question: can Craig James speak five languages?”

“No. He can’t. Unless Texan is included.”

“All right, Meredith. I appreciate your very frank answers to these questions.”

“I have to say, besides Bob Garrett’s questions [a reporter in the Austin bureau of the Dallas Morning News], these have been the most hard-hitting questions I’ve had to answer on the campaign trail.”

“We pride ourselves at D Magazine on conducting that sort of journalism.”

“Thank you for bringing levity to my day. I appreciate that, Tim.”

“All right, Meredith, thanks.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“I love you.”

Read at Dallas Magazine

NPR Interview on Social Media and Politics

I recently participated in an interesting discussion on NPR’s Air Talk about Social Media and its impact on American politics. You can listen to the interview at Air Talk’s web site.

And the Sarcasm Award goes to…

Announcing the winner of our first-ever punch line contest

Our top takeaway from Capitol Alert’s first-ever punchline contest?Controller John Chiang’s staffers have no problem publicly poking fun at their boss.

Several of the department’s employees were among the readers who submitted their best joke about the California Democratic Party’s recent offer to reward the winner of a fund-raising contest with two hours with the state’s top accountant.

The winning entry came not from inside the Democratic controller’s office, but from a reader across the aisle.

GOP social media and political consultant Meredith Turney got the most laughs from our judging panel with this quip:

“California Democrats finally found someone who can help their fundraising even more than Kinde Durkee”

For readers not following the Kinde Durkee saga, the joke references allegations that the prominent Democratic campaign treasurer, who was arrested last month, stole millions from the accounts of her high-profile clients.

It’s been a good week for Turney in terms of getting laughs. A recent tweet taking a swipe at the Occupy protest movement got some love in a daily email newsletter sent out by state GOP spokesman Mark Standriff.

“I can be sarcastic when I need to be,” she said of her snark skills.

Turney, who is currently based in Southern California, can toast to her successes with the $25 gift certificate to Starbucks she won as our top entrant.

Seeing as the contributor is an active member of the GOP, it’s unlikely she’ll win face time with Chiang through the state Democratic Party’s fundraising drive. so she asked us to pass along one message to the person at the center of her punchline:

“Please don’t audit me!”

Thanks for all who participated for the laughs (and the groans). Click here to check out the post announcing the contest.

California’s Jersey Shore Lifestyle

While MTV is notorious for pushing the envelope of good taste and decency in its program selection, few of its shows are as controversial as Jersey Shore. Ever since television viewers first encountered Snooki, The Situation and other cast members of the now-infamous show named after their home state, there’s been no lack of the kind of debauchery that’s become the hallmark of all MTV fare.

Thanks to the cartoonish cast, America has been introduced to all sorts of new slang terms that characterize their depraved behavior. Ever heard of GTL? For “guidos,” or New Jersey men of Italian heritage, it represents their daily regimen of maintaining their body at the gym and tanning salon, and further maintaining their appearance with laundry; thus, GTL. (And, yes, I did have to reference Urban Dictionary to write that last sentence.)

The show is so full of embarrassingly bad behavior that, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, sixty-seven percent of New Jerseyans believe it is bad for their state. Who can blame them? What state would want the Jersey Shore crew to represent their residents?

The most reprehensible part of the show is how it unapologetically portrays the stars: as bed-hopping drunks with no life ambition other than searching for the next party and their next sexual conquest. It is indeed a sad commentary on American culture when this behavior is glamorized by a major cable network that influences the lifestyles of its young, impressionable teenage audience. The Jersey Shore cast members should be offered as cautionary tales, not the people you want to party with.

With entertainment venues constantly barraging young people with such harmful messages about what’s acceptable behavior, parents feel besieged by a culture that could care less about preserving the innocence and mental and physical health of its young. Sadly, government is only compounding the problem by further usurping the diminishing role of parents in the lives of their children, while at the same time sending them a very similar message to that of Jersey Shore.

New laws recently passed in California clearly represent the problem. Governor Jerry Brown just finished clearing hundreds of bills from his desk. Amongst those bills were two related to parental rights and the behavior of young people.

Assembly Bill 499 allows minors over the age of 12 to consent to medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental consent or notification. So if some thirteen-year-old Snooki-wannabe emulates her favorite celebrity by having sex, she can now use the same immature judgment that led to her STD in determining its treatment—all without her parents’ knowledge. How does it aid a teenager’s health by further abetting a dangerously promiscuous lifestyle?

Being sexually promiscuous is only part of the Jersey Shore lifestyle. There’s also the tanning Senate Bill 746 bans minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds in California. There goes the “T” in that GTL regimen. Even if a parent wanted to give consent to their child using a tanning bed, that parental right has been take away by the state. (Sorry, Toddlers & Tiaras stage moms.)

From a parent’s perspective, it’s impossible to follow Governor Brown’s logic in signing these two bills. He’s fine with 12 year-olds being sexually active and making major decisions about their health without parent involvement, but he doesn’t think they have the maturity to determine whether they can use a tanning bed.

In California and for Jerry Brown, potentially getting skin cancer from tanning is far worse than having underage sex, which has awful physical consequences (sterility, long-term STD damage). Do politicians not understand that teens aren’t emotionally ready to handle the consequences, which can leave much deeper scarring?

It may be on the opposite shore of America, but California’s government is treating its young people as though they are living the Jersey Shore lifestyle. Governor Brown and his liberal friends think they should have control over whether your child gets a tan, but children should determine their sexual health regardless of parental wishes. Sounds like a bad TV show, right? Too bad it’s reality.

Read at

Jerry Brown, the Unions’ Governor

Since their inception, California’s government unions have found no greater ally than Jerry Brown. In fact, it was Jerry Brown who first authorized government employees to unionize in 1978 through the Dill Act. Since then, unions have pushed government spending on benefits and pensions to the breaking point. The self-interested unions have built a political machine of campaign spending that ensures their candidates toe the line once elected.

When Meg Whitman ran against Jerry Brown for governor last year, her detractors loved drawing attention to the large amount of money she spent in contrast to her opponent. They sought to portray Whitman as a Wall Street billionaire completely out of touch with common folk as evinced by her ability to drop lots of cash into her campaign, while Brown was her thrifty counterpart, spending very little and promising to do the same with the state’s purse. But in reality, Whitman and Republicans were downright paupers compared to the massive spending unions typically pour into their causes. Whitman was the rarecandidate who could try to match the unions’ war chest. It was no secret that Jerry Brown wouldn’t need to raise or spend the same amount of money as Whitman since his union attack dogs would more than match any check she personally wrote.

So it comes as no surprise (although the source is a bit surprising) that the Los Angeles Times has found Jerry Brown to be a very good friend to public employee unions. In fact, according to the article, “When the dust settled on Gov. Jerry Brown’s first legislative session in nearly three decades, no group had won more than organized labor, which heralded its largest string of victories in nearly a decade.” That’s right, it’s payback time for Jerry Brown and he knows exactly which special interest group to thank for his third term as governor.

Brown’s most blatant payback to the union was his approval of legislation that will move all initiatives slated for the June primary ballot to the November general election ballot. Political wisdom holds that turnout is lower in primaries and if the Stop Special Interest Money Now Initiative appeared on the June primary ballot, its chances of passing would be much greater since voter turnout amongst its supporters would be higher. Obviously unions are scared to death that such an initiative would cut their funding at the source since it would prevent corporate and union spending as well as employee payroll deductions for political spending.

This is the most galling example of unions and Democrats bending the political and legislative processes to their will without regard for the public good. It’s a shame Californians aren’t rising up and chastising the majority party and its union puppeteers for such abuse of the system. As long as the unions’ governor sits in the horseshoe and the unions’ lackeys control the legislature, there isn’t much hope the formerly-Golden State will pull out of its nosedive any time soon.

Read at California Political Review