I turn my camera on

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I turn my camera on

Oh, what hath “Macaca” wrought? I mean, really—no matter how you feel about the gaffe-induced toppling of George “boot-in-mouth” Allen, I think we can now safely say that the introduction of the “Webb cam” into Virginia politics is going to prove more annoying than John Ashcroft’s singing voice.

I’m referring, of course, to the latest innovation to hit the nation’s oldest statehouse: invasive videography. It seems that the assembly’s Democrats, tired of being steamrolled by the Republican majority (who have taken to killing bills in early morning and late-night subcommittee sessions, when the votes don’t have to be recorded) have started videotaping every mind-numbing second of these extra-plenary activities, and then posting them to the InterTubes for all to see.


Raise your hand if you’d rather watch "Love Boat" reruns than members of the Virginia House of Delegates vote on a measure.

There are at least two huge problems with this strategy. The first is that, no matter how artfully you shoot them, state legislative sessions are about as exciting as Larry King’s sex life. Secondly, even if you catch these secretive statesmen arriving for work in silk camisoles and pirate hats, not a single YouTube user is going to give a rat’s ass. Believe me, the phrase “Virginia State Legislature” ranks somewhere around “Kevin Federline music video” in terms of viewer interest.

And what really rankles me about these videos (available at www.assemblyaccess.com, for those who find www.dryingpaint.com too stimulating) is how the Virginia Dems try to spice them up with amateurish effects (like adding the “Pink Panther Theme” to a video of Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick directing his minions to block the camera), when there’s a deep well of actual idiocy out there, just waiting to be caught on tape.

I mean, just look what happened when NPR’s “Morning Edition” did a piece on the dozens of anti-illegal immigrant bills currently being sponsored in Virginia’s General Assembly: A veritable parade of excitable xenophobes lined up to make the sort of statements that would warm Virgil Goode’s heart. Take Delegate Mark Cole, for instance, who wants to make it a misdemeanor to even enter the state of Virginia without legal status. “My primary goal,” he told NPR, “is to try to make Virginia an unattractive destination for illegal immigrants.” (And, presumably, enlightened thinkers and compassionate people of every stripe.) Even better was Delegate Jack Reid, who is sponsoring a bill to make it a felony to knowingly assist an illegal immigrant. When NPR pointed out that this would criminalize the activities of many religious charities and soup kitchens, Reid drawled, “If they know it, and they’re purposefully doin’ it, we’re after them, too.” (Reid distinguished himself last session as the gun-toting house member who accidentally shot a bullet into his office door.)

And this is what they were willing to say to National Public Radio—a known Communist propaganda mouthpiece! Come on, Virginia Dems—just dress your videographer up like a reporter from the Washington Times, and you can probably get these goofballs to admit to shooting both Tupac and Biggie, causing global warming, and single-handedly delivering Florida’s electoral votes to George W. Bush in the 2000 election.

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