Alabama: State Government or Terrible Season Of “House of Cards”?

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Current Events, Politics
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See Montgomery Burns as Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

See Montgomery Burns as Governor Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

Really, at this point, Alabama state government has become just an awful soap opera….even more terrible than “House of Cards”.  I mean, check out the characters….er….I mean real actual people (….how is this really happening????  How could we have elected such terrible folks that the Onion couldn’t have made them up any better?).

Governor Robert Bentley – The main protagonist….the Frank Underwood if you will.  After a career in dermatology and a short stint in the state’s house of representatives, Bentley was first elected governor in 2010.  One of his big hooks is that he doesn’t accept the salary offered for the governor’s position (he says he won’t take it until Alabama’s unemployment is 5.2% or below, something that hasn’t happened during is tenure….but don’t pass around a collection plate, he regularly reports six-figure incomes….he’s doing fine).  Reelected in 2014, he decides a couple of days after the election would be the ideal time to announce the state had a budget crisis (wouldn’t want that getting in the way of a campaign you know).

But this isn’t fit for television.  We need some plot twists.  So Bentley’s wife leaves him in August, 2015.  Rumors swirl over a supposed affair by the governor.  Hogwash he says!  Ah, but then audio tapes surface, and it has recordings of him talking ‘sweet nuthings’ to another woman!  Bentley is all ‘ok, that’s me….but I swear that it’s……just very imaginative talk……nothing physical….after all, who among us can say they haven’t talked dirty to their senior political advisor????’  Still, he gets booted from his church and now there are those who want to impeach him.  The scandal!

Of course, you need celebrity cameos. And a crazy Vegas episode. Like the one where the governor and his mistress/not mistress went to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion. Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, amirite? Oh, and you need wacky hi-jinks.  Like the one where the governor gets in an argument with his wife and leaves in a huff to the beach (to hook up with/not hook up with his mistress/not mistress). But oopsy, he forgot his wallet! Oh what to do, what to do? Going back would be SO embarrassing! Ah, just send security back to go get it…it’s just taxpayer money!  (“But sir, what do I tell everyone???”  “Tell them it’s a matter of state security.”  Hilarious!)

Rebekah Mason – The mistress/not mistress.  Or top political advisor….with privileges! Whatever the case, she clearly had won a lot of influence with the Governor, even if that advice was often terrible. So, how did she get paid, anyway? Why, dark money from a shadowy non-profit, of course!  The organization, called ACEGov, was first established using leftover campaign funds under the pretense that it would be used to help good causes, like foster children. Or apparently, a source for the mistress/not mistress’s pay check. I guess “good causes” are in the eyes of the beholder.

So was Rebekah Mason married? Of course she was! So what of her husband you ask? He says he has resolved this issue with his wife a long time ago. I am sure that the $91,000 position with the governor’s office helped.  I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of dollars his consulting firm received from the University of Alabama that the Mason’s didn’t want anyone to know about helped even more. But who’s to say?

Mike Hubbard – Speaker of the State House. He would be leading any impeachment hearings for Governor Bentley. But alas, he has his own problems. He has been criminally charged with 23 counts of felony ethic violations. Hogwash he says! Hey, if you can’t use your office for personal gain and make votes for your own interest, what is the point of being in government anyway? To serve the people? Pfft.  But along with this, there’s another plot twist that makes this important.

Spencer Collier – Head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.  Well, actually former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Why former? He was fired by Bentley. Bentley says he fired Collier for misuse of funds.  But Collier says he was fired because Bentley asked him to interfere with the Hubbard investigation (specifically, he asked him to sign an affidavit claiming that an investigation of claims by Hubbard’s defense against the AG’s office were still ongoing rather than say they found no wrong doing) and he refused. Whatever the case may be, once he was fired, he decided it was time for all the secrets to come out, including the Bentley/Mason affair/not affair and the tapes (which do definitely exist).

Heck, with all these twist and turns, maybe this wouldn’t be terrible television after all.  But it’s really terrible reality.


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