McDonnell’s Crazy Thesis

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, is under fire for a college thesis he wrote two decades ago. In it, he bashes “cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators” and claims working women are “detrimental” to the family.

Since The Washington Post first revealed the thesis Sunday, McDonnell has vehemently claimed his positions have changed, while his opponent has racked up an additional 300 donors.

The treatise is the latest erstwhile paper to come back to haunt a public figure. When Michelle Obama‘s Princeton thesis about race was unearthed during the presidential campaign, more than 20 years after she originally penned it, conservatives claimed it proved she hated whites. More recently, Sarah Palin accused Ezekial Emanuel of being a “death panel“-advocate based on a paper he wrote about health care 13 years ago.

But while both these cases involved word-twisting by adversaries, McDonnell’s controversial views are much more explicit. It’s hard to claim you’re being misrepresented when you write “[W]hen the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter,” or claim public schools should teach “traditional Judeo-Christian values.” (To read the whole thesis—which includes many other choice nuggets—click here.)

It’s not out of the question that McDonnell’s views have shifted, considering how long ago his thesis was written. But proving that’s the case is going to be an extremely uphill battle.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate