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Scary monsters / August 02, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican candidate for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District of Virginia:

On Monday, political junkies like me awoke to a strange new term: Bigfoot Erotica. Trending on Twitter! This would have been just another weird sidelight in a very strange political year — good for a random click on a website, if that — except for the fact that the political brouhaha in question springs from our Congressional race here in south-central Virginia. The image above is taken from the Instagram account of Denver Riggleman, the GOP candidate seeking to win the 5th District seat now held by Republican Rep. Tom Garrett. The image above is, um, Bigfoot with all the parts included (but redacted.) The term “Bigfoot Erotica” was coined by Riggleman’s Democratic opponent in the race, Leslie Cockburn, who tweeted out screenshots of bizarro Bigfoot art from Riggleman’s Instagram account. “My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill,” wrote Cockburn. Our bored and jaded online community lit onto the exchange like flies on Sasquatch scat, and so here we are.

What is one to make of this? Riggleman said the Bigfoot posts are part of a long-running joke between him and his military buddies (he is an Air Force vet) and were never meant for public consumption, although his Instagram account was open and public for all to see. (Riggleman has since changed the privacy settings to shield his account from prying eyes.) Later in the day on Monday, well after whole thing blew up online, Riggleman started to treat it as the comedy that it surely is. Hard to argue with this as a matter of campaign strategy.

Look, I get it: most of us have buddies with whom we swap stupid, sophomoric jokes (I’m sure this goes for the gals as well as the guys). The fact that a person might be running for Congress with an open-ended social media account doesn’t change this norm of how friends interact, even if the mix of bone-headed humor and pursuit of higher office practically guarantees one 15 minutes of fame on Twitter. Does any of this stuff mean anything? No.

Yet because it’s our job to push the understanding of today’s events to the next level, we can’t simply let the matter drop there. This investigation cries out for asking the proverbial next question(s):

• Is it normal for middle-aged military veterans to share off-color humor on their Instagram accounts? Let’s revise the question: is it normal for middle-aged military veterans to have Instagram accounts?

• How do you go about making the internet aware that the last name of the Democratic candidate is pronounced “Coe-burn” and not, um, …..

• Speaking of odd nomenclature: “Denver Riggleman”? Who came up with the names of the candidates in this race, Charles Dickens?

• How long before Bigfoot is dragged into a debate over gender humor and political correctness? And how does poor Bigfoot feel about this?

• Is the country really this silly?

I have a rule for interpreting political news of the weird: If the story sounds like a one-off, i.e. unlikely to be repeated, let it go. If a pattern develops, then maybe we can draw some conclusions about the character of the Republican candidate in the race. Until then, let’s call it a draw: Team Cockburn’s Make Republicans a Punchline Again vs. Team Riggleman’s Boy Some People Sure Are Humor-Impaired Aren’t They? It’s a less-than-epic campaign faceoff that got mileage for all of a day. As they say at the doctor’s office: “Next!”


I keep shouting this from the rooftops and will continue to do so until more people pay attention: uranium mining is Pittsylvania County is quickly becoming a federal issue after being bottled up for decades at the state level. In October, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in Virginia Uranium’s twice-failed lawsuit to overturn the state ban on uranium mining. Way too many people have convinced themselves that the justices will surely rule in Virginia’s favor, believing this lawsuit presents a strong argument for state’s rights — a supposed tenet of conservative jurisprudence — when the record is abundantly clear that the state’s rights argument championed by the legal right is simply a means to an end, not the end goal itself.

So what is this goal? Simple: elimination of federal oversight of corporate activity, up to and including the mining of toxic material from wherever the ground may cough up bigly profits. I’d love to be wrong in predicting how a conservative, corporatist Supreme Court will rule on the uranium lawsuit, and we’ll see soon enough, but put me down as officially nervous about the entire business.

In the meantime, the Trump Administration sent another clear signal of where it stands by announcing last week that it will consider the imposition of tariffs on imported uranium. Considering Donald Trump hasn’t met a tariff yet that he doesn’t like, it’s fair to assume that uranium tariffs are in the offing for major producer countries such as Australia and Canada. By making imported uranium more expensive, Trump will provide a huge boost to domestic production, including yellowcake that can be dug out of the ground upriver from us.

For a long time, people who worried Virginia Uranium might someday overcome the regulatory obstacles stifling their operations in Pittsylvania County could console them in the belief — more or less accurate — that U.S.-produced uranium wasn’t commercially viable anyway, so no huge worries. Now Southside Virginia is facing a two-pronged attack: first on the legal front and now with a bald-faced attempt to rig the rules of the marketplace so Virginia Uranium can succeed where otherwise the company would likely have failed.

Perhaps our congressional candidates can provide some insight on how they plan to deal with this issue rather than siccing sexy Bigfoot on an unsuspecting public.

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