National Commentary

Anything But Straight: The Last True Conservatives

Author A.J. Jacobs just released his new book, "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Quest to Follow The Bible As Literally As Possible." For 365 days, the agnostic Jacobs skipped around in a robe and sandals while growing a Moses-like beard. He herded sheep, and refrained from sins, such as gossiping and lying.


While reading a review, it occurred to me that this faux fundamentalist may be the last one in America who actually walks the walk – in sandals – and doesn't talk the talk, while caught up in tawdry scandals.

In the latest outrage, Louisiana Republican Joey DiFatta withdrew from his State Senate race after police detained him twice for looking to hook-up in public restrooms. Of course, like Sen. Larry Craig and Florida House member Bob Allen, DiFatta swears he isn't gay. Isn't it time that the GOP just admits what modern conservatism really stands for by holding the Republican National Convention inside a giant domed commode?

It is all starting to make sense as to why senate colleagues applauded Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) when he returned to work after admitting a tryst with a female hooker? The fact that the GOP has at least one politician that verifiably likes women was enough to earn him a well-deserved standing ovation.

The most spectacular fundie-fiasco is the alleged plundering of Oral Roberts University by the school's president Richard Roberts and his greedy wife Lindsay. This is the Bible Belt school made famous by a 60 foot bronze statue of praying hands and immortalized after ORU's founder and namesake once said God told him to raise $8 million dollars or he would be "called home."

Well, that might not have not been so bad, as the charges reveal that the younger Roberts' home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years and includes a ranch with a stable of horses for the family's children. When not riding on their high horse, the family was flying high on the university jet to the Bahamas.

Mrs. Roberts' Imelda Marcos-like spending included more than $39,000 at one clothing store in less than a year. Apparently, she justified the expense by saying, "As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off."

Of course, she had to look good in that white Lexus SUV and red Mercedes convertible given to her by ministry donors. Mrs. Roberts also had to appear spiffy for the boys, as she racked up cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

In yet another illuminating development, churches are now recruiting young evangelicals by setting up TV monitors in basements where kids can play the bloodthirsty videogame Halo 3. One preacher defended these hellish games in the New York Times by saying he wants to "make it hard for teenagers to go to hell." Kedrick Kenerly, founder of Christian Gamers Online, calls the video violence "a way to fellowship" and justifies their use by saying, "I'm shooting pixels on a screen." So, is porn now considered okay because you are shooting, so to speak, to pixels on a screen? If fundamentalism keeps going down this road, they might consider setting up booths at the Folsom Street Fair.

With such political and moral depravity sweeping conservatism – not to mention disgust over Bush and the Iraq war – the country is moving back to the center. This is reflected in the presidential race, where hardcore wing nuts, like Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) are in the back of the pack. This has set up the unlikely scenario where a nominally pro-choice candidate, like Rudy Giuliani, could win the GOP nomination.

If this occurs, Focus on the Family's James Dobson and other leading fundamentalists have threatened to back a third-party candidate. The problem is, the conservative brand is so tarnished that they can't find anyone with credibility (or who hasn't been divorced multiple times) to run. Still, with evangelicals representing 26 percent of the population, if only a quarter of them defect to a spoiler candidate, it will hand the election to the Democrats.

The self-righteous and corrupt Religious Right is already destroying itself, we can only hope they will be as successful at ruining their partnership with the Republican Party. What could be sweeter in 2008 than Dobson playing the role of Ralph Nader, with King James crowning Queen Hillary?

As much as the right may cringe at the prospect, compared to its closeted toe tapping, serial divorcing, university pilfering, bloody videogame-promoting constituency, Hillary Clinton's lifestyle – and that of the other leading Democrats – appears quite conservative.