Last year McBone eulogized one ultraconservative and super-Christian bigot. His name? The Reverend Jerry Falwell (pictured right). This year's ultraconservative and super-Christian bigot is, of course, longtime North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, who passed away on Friday.
While it's no secret that Helms and Falwell were two peas in a pod, the casual citizen may not be aware of just how deep their connection was. Luckily, McBone's top-shelf research team has been working nonstop to connect the dots between these two polarizing figures. Here are some of our early findings.
Homosexuality. Helms and Falwell were stridently anti-gay. Helms refused to support AIDS funding because of his belief that the disease was spread by "disgusting" homosexual behavior. Falwell went as far as to blame the 9/11 terrorist attacks on gays. The two teamed up to condemn Ang Lee's 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, as "homosexual propoganda," although both lauded the picture for having "captured the singular beauty of the Canadian Rockies and Anne Hathaway's naked torso."
Civil Rights/Segregation. Helms, a former Dixiecrat in the Strom Thurmond mold, was no champion of civil rights. He opposed affirmative action and filibustered against making Martin Luther King Jr's birthday a national holiday. Worse still, Helms once campaigned for segregationist senator Willis Smith, and is rumored to have been responsible for ads that read, "White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?" David Broder called Helms "the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country." Falwell, for his part, preached openly against desegregation, claiming it would destroy the country. In a 1964 sermon he warned: "a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife." Don't agree with the reverend's objection? Check out the above photo of Halle Berry to see the hideous result of intermarriage between races.
Appearance. Pudgy, doughy, squeezable, virtually indistinguishable. Helms and Falwell were known to wear big, goofy-looking glasses that made them seem hopelessly out of touch with reality. Which they were.
Ronald Reagan. The three met on the set of Reagan's 1940 masterwork, Tugboat Annie Sails Again, and formed an immediate bond of friendship that would last until all three were, alas, dead. Both Helms and Falwell were ardent Reaganites, and Helms famously blamed Reagan's failure to capture a single Academy Award nomination on "Hollywood Jews, queers and commies."
Oh yeah. Helms and Falwell supported Reagan in the political arena as well.
Commies. Helms was one of the more outspoken opponents of communism throughout his career. Falwell, in his own attempt to block a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, joined the conspiratorial movement attacking King for having supposed extreme left-wing connections. While the US Constitution grants any citizen the right to be communist, it is unknown whether Helms or Falwell were aware of the document.
Martin Luther King was not a communist, incidentally.
Liberty University. Jerry Falwell founded this religious university in 1971. In 2004 LU christened its school of government The Helms School of Government. Liberty University, ranked a fourth-tier university by US News and World Report, is a sometimes-accredited institution of higher learning with programs in creationism, intelligent design, bible studies and, for its female students, home economics. The McBone research team continues its search for any notable faculty or alumni.
Christianity: Obviously, these dudes were hardcore Christians. Few know that they compiled a Nixonian list of enemies whom they considered prime candidates for an eternity in hell. A sampling: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, RuPaul, Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, Michael Moore, Robert Mapplethorpe, Paul Newman, the Teletubbies, Ron Reagan Jr., Al Sharpton, Bruce Springsteen, Shirley MacLaine, Stabbone, McGraw, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, Mexicans, Canadians, the French, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, liberals, moderates, communists, socialists, feminists, hippies, beatniks, union workers, the ACLU, the poor, the educated and the entire staff of Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.
Bono. Later in life, Helms eased his stance on AIDS somewhat and formed an unlikely friendship with U2 frontman, Bono. Together they established a charitable alliance dedicated stopping the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Meanwhile, Falwell and Bono formed a garage band, cutting a pair little-known albums before finally splitting up due to "creative differences" and an "irreconcilable loathing of each other."
Mayonnaise. Helms was a noted mayonnaise user and was known to smear the condiment on everything from hamburgers to pumpkin pie. He kept a crock of potato salad in his desk at Capitol Hill, which he insisted was best enjoyed "a little above room temperature." Falwell often sermonized against mustard and called mayonnaise, "God's dressing."
PS: Jesse Helms died on July 4th, just like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, apropos not because Helms was a great patriot, but because Jefferson and Adams were slave owners.