David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

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Joe the Plumber: Don't Vote for Republicans

| Tue Jun. 22, 2010 7:22 AM PDT

This just in. Joseph Wurzelbacher, the Ohio fellow who became oddly famous during the 2008 campaign as "Joe the Plumber," is joining the "Take Our Country Back Tour," the conservative political calvacade that has featured Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and right-leaning country singers. These rallies, according to organizers, are intended to encourage Americans to vote for candidates who believe "in the right of the American people—and only the American people—to determine the course and destiny of the United States of America." The next of these conservative shindigs is scheduled for June 26 in Oklahoma CIty. Beck and Karl Rove are headlining the gig.

A press release announcing Joe the Plumber's participation includes this quote from the right's favorite Everyman stand-in: "We need to elect 'Americans,' not Republicans or Democrats." The press release did not explain why JTP chose to put single quotation marks around the word "Americans." Nor did it note whether Karl Rove will present this same message, when he and JTP share the stage in OKC.

The press release also included this remark from the Uncertified Plumber Formerly Known as Wurzelbacher:

Growing up, my dad regularly had me read the newspaper,. With the dictionary right next to me, every time I didn't know a word he would say, 'Look it up.' That is part of my message to the American people: Stop listening to other people and 'Look it up!' You were blessed to be born in this country, with this blessing comes responsibility.

Yet last year, JTP hardly celebrated the importance of newspapers and the media. While covering the Gaza crisis for Pajamas Media—yes, you read that correctly—he said that reporters should not be allowed to cover wars:

I don't think journalists should be anywhere allowed war [sic]. I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting... I think the media should have no business in it.

Wurzelbacher's main focus now, the press release stated, is "to bring back 'American pride' through individual responsibility, accountability, and self-education."

JTP in the Middle East:

The BP Spill and the Bermuda Triangle

| Mon Jun. 21, 2010 9:36 AM PDT

What went wrong with BP's Deepwater Horizon project? Well, it seems the problem was either the Bermuda Triangle, or maybe the Jews.

I suppose this is not unpredictable, but conspiracy theorists—including a leading white supremacist—have latched on to the eco-tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico. Richard Hoagland has long claimed that advanced civilizations have existed on the moon. (His Wikipedia entry states plainly, "Hoagland does not have any scientific training.") Now he's pushing a notion that's more down-to-earth. Energy investment adviser Christian DeHaemer blogged about Hoagland's latest:

I recently heard a recording of Richard Hoagland...Mr. Hoagland has suggested that there are cracks in the ocean floor, and that pressure at the base of the wellhead is approximately 100,000 psi.

Furthermore, geologists believe there are another 4-5 cracks or fissions in the well. Upon using a GPS and Depth finder system, experts have discovered a large gas bubble, 15-20 miles across and tens of feet high, under the ocean floor.

These bubbles are common. Many believe they have caused the sinking of ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle.

That said, a bubble this large — if able to escape from under the ocean floor through a crack — would cause a gas explosion that Mr. Hoagland likens to Mt. St. Helens...only under water.

The BP well is 50 miles from Louisiana. Its release would send a toxic cloud over populated areas. The explosion would also sink any ships and oil structures in the vicinity and create a tsunami which would head toward Florida at 600 mph.

Now, many people have called Hoagland a fringe thinker and a conspiracy theorist. And they may be right... But that doesn't mean he isn't on to something.

Cue X Files music. Meanwhile, James Wickstrom, a virulent anti-Semitic white supremacist, has been pushing a similar scenario:

At some point the drilled hole in the earth will enlarge itself beneath the wellhead to weaken the area the wellhead rests upon. The intense pressure will then push the wellhead off the hole allowing a direct unrestricted flow of oil, etc.

The hole will continue to increase in size allowing more and more oil to rise into the Gulf. After several billion barrels of oil have been released, the pressure within the massive cavity five miles beneath the ocean floor will begin to normalize.

This will allow the water, under the intense pressure at 1 mile deep, to be forced into the hole and the cavity where the oil was. The temperature at that depth is near 400 degrees, possibly more.

The water will be vaporized and turned into steam, creating an enormous amount of force, lifting the Gulf floor. It is difficult to know how much water will go down to the core and therefore, its not possible to fully calculate the rise of the floor.

The tsunami wave this will create will be anywhere from 20 to 80 feet high, possibly more. Then the floor will fall into the now vacant chamber. This is how nature will seal the hole.

Depending on the height of the tsunami, the ocean debris, oil, and existing structures that will be washed away on shore and inland, will leave the area from 50 to 200 miles inland devoid of life. Even if the debris is cleaned up, the contaminants that will be in the ground and water supply will prohibit re-population of these areas for an unknown number of years.

When he's not ranting at BP and the "Marxist Obama administration," Wickstrom writes about Jews drinking the blood of innocent children.

Actually, more somber-minded people are fretting about possible apocalyptic consequences of the oil leak. The Coast Guard has raised questions about the wellhead's ability to contain the oil beneath it. (That is, the wellhead could break further, and this could lead to a greater flood of oil—perhaps 100,000 barrels a day.) Environmentalists and scientists fear that the spill—with or without a total wellhead collapse—could turn the Gulf of Mexico into one large dead zone. In a world despoiled by BP, even the conspiracy kooks have real nightmares to worry about.

Top 10 Candidate Gaffes of 2010

| Fri Jun. 18, 2010 8:07 AM PDT

In honor of Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP, the smart analysts at MSNBC"s "First Read" have put out a list of the top 10 candidate gaffes of 2010. Though the elections are still months away, the list is full of doozies. One can only imagine what will be added in the weeks to come. And the winners are....

1. Gordon Brown's "bigoted woman": This gaffe took place across the Atlantic Ocean, but it impacted Britain's election this year and ensured that Gordon Brown and the Labour Party would be voted out of power. http://bit.ly/dvkqPQ

2. Martha Coakley's Schilling-is-a-Yankee fan: This statement in a radio interview showed that she was out of touch with Massachusetts voters. No Boston Red Sox fan would mistakenly say that Curt Schilling is a Yankee fan. This gaffe turned out to be the final nail in Coakley's coffin. http://bit.ly/5wSX3v

3. Sue Lowden and Barter-gate/Chicken-gate: This gaffe by Lowden -- touting that bartering for health care, like paying doctors with chickens, could benefit the health system -- contributed to her June 8 defeat in the Nevada Senate GOP primary, a contest in which she was once the front-runner. It also inspired videos like the one linked here. http://bit.ly/c3Ny8l

4. Vaughn Ward's Puerto Rico is a country: Ward once was a front-runner, too -- in an Idaho GOP congressional primary. But after a few gaffes -- like calling Puerto Rico a country when it's a territory -- he ended up losing this primary. http://bit.ly/bRaek3

5. Arlen Specter and the College Republicans: Specter mistakenly saying that he was endorsed by the College Republicans, instead of the College Democrats, highlighted his biggest weakness in the Democratic Senate primary he lost: He was a long-time Republican before switching parties. http://bit.ly/9yV2C3

6. Carly Fiorina's hairy situation: California’s GOP Senate nominee became the latest victim of the open mic, when she was caught dissing the hairstyle of fall opponent, Barbara Boxer. ("God, what is that hair? Soooo yesterday.") http://bit.ly/aBdedx

7. J.D. Hayworth's 'history' lesson: At a town hall, Hayworth served up this whopper: "As I recall, in MY history, Germany declared war on the United States not vice versa." In fact, as was pointed out to him by a questioner (who Hayworth didn't believe), the U.S. DID declare war on Germany on April 4, 1917. http://bit.ly/d9rQDP and http://bit.ly/aiHgia

8. Jim Gibbons -- the mistress and the airplane: ‘What's it to you? … You're full of s---': It was painful to watch as Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons tried to deny, deny, deny that there was a woman with him on a plane back from DC that was actually his mistress. Gibbons apologized but lost his reelection bid badly in the primary. In fairness, though this gaffe was hardly the only thing that did him in. http://bit.ly/9E1Rcw

9. Jerry Brown and Nazi propaganda: We've said it before, and we'll say it again, the first to bring up Nazis in politics, loses the argument. In a conversation with a reporter while out for a morning jog, longtime pol Jerry Brown, running as the Democratic nominee for governor in California, likened his fall opponent Meg Whitman and her big spending habits to Nazi propagandists. http://bit.ly/d48B2C

10. Bob Etheridge gets too close for comfort: It's never a good idea to grab, slap, pull, manhandle, or "hug, as in wrestling," another person -- no matter how annoying they are -- and especially if it's on camera (!!!). This might not have any effect on his re-election bid, but it provided a lesson politicians should already know: When the camera is on, it can be uploaded and sent around the world in minutes. http://bit.ly/deS68w and http://bit.ly/d7ayfu

Rep. Barton To Star in Democratic Ads?

| Thu Jun. 17, 2010 8:51 AM PDT

Those Republicans sure are doing all they can to help the Democrats in a tough congressional election year. As Kate notes, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) this morning essentially apologized to BP and called the new $20 billion escrow account pushed by the Obama administration a "shakedown." In doing so, Barton, who would become chairman of the House energy committee should the Republicans take back the House, has made a political commerical for every House Democrat facing a difficult reelection. It could go something like this:

See this guy? [Photo of Barton; optional: ominous music]. He's a congressman who apologized to BP. Really. Why? Because he said forcing the polluter to set up a $20 billion compensation fund was nothing but a big-government "shakedown." Is this a big deal? It sure could be. Vote for [fill in the name of the Republican candidate] and this BP backer could take over the congressional committee that oversees BP. Then maybe he'll ask taxpayers, not BP, to pay for BP's mess. I'm [fill in the name of Democrat incumbent] and I approve of this message—and of forcing BP, not you, to pay.

Okay, tweak it a little. But I'm sure there are editing rooms already at work on something like this. If not, the Dems deserve to lose.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is counting on fear of Sarah Palin to motivate its grassroots funders. From its latest fundraising email, signed by commentator/consultant Paul Begala:

Between Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Sarah Palin, I'm tearing out what's left of my hair. And I don't have much to spare. At this rate, I'm going to make James Carville look like Mitt Romney. (Say what you want about Mitt; his hair is beautiful.)

Angle wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, and eliminate the federal Departments of Education and Energy. Paul thinks businesses should have the right to discriminate. And Sarah Palin? Well, she's out there raisin' money for 'em, just a-droppin' her g's and pushin' 'em further 'n' further off that right-wing cliff like they were lemmings instead of mama grizzlies - or whatever her latest mammalian metaphor is.

Now, here's the scary part. Candidates like Angle and Paul might actually win. Anti-government extremists and corporate special interests are teaming up to generate enthusiasm and big bucks for candidates who would have been on the fringe during the time of "mainstream" Republicans like Ronald Reagan.

Will Palin-mongering help the Ds? It might impress grassroots funders more than voters (which, at this moment, is the point). But the GOPers, with or without Sister Sarah, are handing the Democrats a lot of ammo—and they certainly need it this year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ought to send Barton flowers.

UPDATE: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has put out a statement slamming Barton's apology:

What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction.  Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now.  Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.”

The White House doesn't always respond in such an official fashion to dumb GOP remarks. This one is getting special attention.


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