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Political Sex Scandal Comedy ‘Tail! Spin!’ Opens Off Broadway: REVIEW

TSArnieBurtonRachelDratchSeanDuganandTomGalantich

BY NAVEEN KUMAR

You probably read about them right here, but how sufficiently did you relish in the salacious details of our past decade’s worth of civic sex-capades? Hoopla over Anthony Weiner’s dick pics and Larry Craig’s bathroom-stall cruising has long since been snuffed out the whirl of our 24-hour news cycle, but flipping back through the archives proves to be a trip in Tail! Spin!, a raunchy new comedy that opened Off Broadway Wednesday at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre.

TSSeanDuganArnieBurtonNateSmithTomGalantichandRachelDratchAssembled from actual transcripts (interviews, tweets, Facebook messages, etc.) by playwright Mario Correa, the sketch-style show, directed by Dan Knechtges, runs through four such public embarrassments in its swift 75 minutes. With an overarching punch line of “you can’t make this sh*t up,” the show proves that sometimes the bare facts are farce enough on their own.

With a cast of five, including SNL vet Rachel Dratch, the show sends up the lewd foibles of Weiner, Craig, and both Mark Sanford and Mark Foley, splicing together the pol’s public denials and apologies with their baldly incriminating actions and conversations. Statements are cleverly juxtaposed to beget dirty puns and innuendo and there’s knee-slapping humor in seeing the men’s duplicity made glaring.

TSNateSmithEach of four actors takes on one of the fallen officials, savoring their deceptions and missteps while mostly steering clear of cheesy impersonations. Nate Smith brings a suitably smarmy sex appeal to Weiner and Arnie Burton balances charm and sleaze in Foley’s instant message teen romance. Ms. Dratch flits seamlessly between many roles, milking laughs from the posturing of wives who stood by their disgraced grooms and those who didn’t. Fans of the spastic comedian will also be delighted that Barbara Walters makes a memorable cameo in Sanford’s extramarital meltdown.

There was a time (not so long ago) when every day seemed to deliver another red-faced politician zipping up his trousers in the news, so that new stories no longer warranted the bat of an eye. Tail! Spin! aims to snap us out of that desensitivity by asking for a bit of retrospective pearl clutching. There’s a certain nostalgia now, too, in looking back on these whipping boys, for headlines less saturated with war, deadly plague and civil unrest.

TSNateSmithArnieBurtonRachelDratchSeanDuganandTomGalantichBut while it deals in the simple facts, Correa’s play makes little effort to morally distinguish between the natural and rather ordinary sexual impulses of its subjects and the lies they fed the press—it seems quite happy to shame the leaders for both. Even granted these are privileged, white men, the underlying slut-shaming tone ultimately feels a bit problematic: It’s not Craig and Foley’s gay desires or Weiner and Sanford’s infidelities that deserve our (presumably liberal) derision.

We expect our elected officials, like our celebrities, to be better and different—not to have, say, naked selfies on their iClouds like everyone else. That we’re shocked when they prove us wrong only speaks to our own delusions. What’s really on trial here is that politicians lie, which of course is news to no one, but laughing it off sure is cathartic. 

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: carol rosegg)


Former Senator Larry Craig Ordered to Pay $242,000 for Misuse of Campaign Funds: VIDEO

6a00d8341c730253ef0167690d8f11970bOn Tuesday, a federal judge ordered former senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to pay the U.S. treasury $242,000 for improper use of campaign funds.

This news is the latest in a long, sad, and winding road for Craig in the aftermath of his 2007 scandal. Things have been messy not just in the legal procedings after the stall ("wide stance") incident, but also with the revelation that Craig used campaign funds to pay for his legal defense. On this front, trouble has been brewing for the Senator over the last two years. Craig's attorneys previously argued that he was entitled to use the money, given that he was in the airport on "official business."

Looks like this arguement has not held up so well. Via The Washington Post, here is a quote on the matter from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson:

The Court finds that defendants violated the FECA when they converted campaign funds to pay for legal expenses related to Senator Craig’s efforts to withdraw his guilty plea, which was a personal matter that was not connected to the Senator’s duties as an officeholder.

Also check out the The Washington Post's recreation of the stall incident, filmed at the actual scene of the "crime", AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Former Senator Larry Craig Ordered to Pay $242,000 for Misuse of Campaign Funds: VIDEO" »


Prominent Blogger Says At Least 3 Anti-Gay Members Of Congress Are Gay; One Will Be Outed Soon

IMG_0512Mike Rogers, a blogger who gained fame in the mid 2000s by "outing" prominent anti-gay politicians, says he currently knows of three anti-gay members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are themselves gay. U.S. News reports:

Rogers refused to say when he might disclose information on these members or what might provoke such a revelation, maintaining that as a journalist he holds some cards close to the vest.

But Rogers said he's about to get his hands on concrete evidence that one anti-gay member of Congress engages in gay sex. "Oh, it's going to happen because it has been happening for a long time," he said.

The blogger's most high-profile triumphs include the 2004 revelation that then Rep. Ed Schrock (R-VA) was leaving voicemails on a gay hook-up service, prompting the two-term congressman to retire. In October 2006 he wrote that three men informed him they had sex with then Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) in bathrooms at Union Station. Before making his allegations against Craig public, two of his three sources signed affidavits saying they would come forward if Rogers was taken to court. 

If his previous track record is any indication, these new revelations are sure to make waves once the cat is out of the bag. Let the speculation commence. 


Federal Judge to Determine Whether Larry Craig Improperly Spent Campaign Funds to Defend His Toe-Tapping Antics

Former Senator Larry Craig's infamous Minneapolis airport restroom cruising is back in the spotlight, McClatchy reports:

LarrycraigA federal judge this week will confront the surprisingly important fallout from former Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig’s 2007 bathroom arrest.

Craig’s own money may be on the line Wednesday, but that’s not all. Other politicians, too, could have a future stake in what U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says about how campaign dollars can be spent.

The Federal Election Commission says Craig improperly used more than $216,000 in campaign funds to pay attorneys after being charged with disorderly conduct for his behavior in a Minneapolis airport men’s room. Craig’s attorneys insist he was on official business and so could use his campaign treasury as other legally embattled lawmakers have done before him. The judicial resolution to this dispute could have a broad reach.

Craig is now a principal in New West Strategies, a self-described “strategic advocacy” firm with offices in Washington and Eagle, Idaho.

No word on how often he visits his old stomping ground on layovers.


Larry Craig Sued For $217,000

070911_lcraig_simonPoor Larry Craig. The ex-senator, famous for his wide stance in airport bathrooms, is currently fending off demands from the Federal Elections Commission that he personally repay the $217,000 spent on his legal defense in the gross/funny/sad leadup to his resignation in 2007.

From the AP:

The FEC sued Craig in June in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleging he converted the campaign money to personal use by spending it on his legal defense after he was accused of soliciting sex in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom. The commission argues Craig's defense had no connection to his campaign for federal office.

The ex-senator begs to differ. He insists out that his trip to the airport was pure business -- was constitutionally mandated, in fact, because he was headed to D.C. to fulfill his senatorial duties -- and as such, any expenses incurred while using the airport's amenities ought to be reimbursed by the United States government. Craig and his lawyers claim the assertion has precedent. From the AP:

In documents supporting his bid to have the complaint dismissed, Craig cites the case of former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, who tapped campaign money in 2006 to defend himself after allegations of improper behavior emerged against him following a Grand Canyon rafting trip with two former male pages.


Larry Craig to Co-Host Radio Show, Won't Take Toe-Tapping Questions

Former Idaho Senator Larry Craig will be filling in this afternoon for conservative host Nate Shelman on his Boise-based radio show this afternoon:

Craig "Shelman, who will be vacationing, said Craig will field phone calls and focus on politics, elections and the economy. Shelman said he doesn’t expect Craig to take questions about his 2007 conviction for misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with a sex sting in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport. 'It’s an understood agreement,' Shelman said. 'I don’t think he wants to relive it.' Craig has phoned in to speak with Shelman since retiring in 2009, but Monday's three hours in the Boise studio will be his first extended appearance. "


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