When I saw the headline that Glenn Beck was delivering a commencement address, I thought he would be addressing graduates of the Gary Leffew Bull Riding School in Santa Maria, California. After all, Beck describes himself as a “rodeo clown.” But before contacting Gary—a former world champion bull rider, who is married to my cousin—I read the article and discovered he was speaking to the 8650 members of Liberty University’s 2010 graduating class in Lynchburg, Virginia.
At first, I thought it odd that a school founded by hardshell, fundamentalist Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell would invite a Mormon to give the commencement address. My late momma, a member of a large Southern Baptist congregation, must have told me fifty times that Mormons were a cult—a description she probably heard in Sunday school class since momma never spent much time studying world religions. I can’t vouch for her characterization of the Church of Latter Day Saints, although it seems the church is outside of the mainstream of the nation’s Protestant faiths.
Anyway, after pondering Beck’s selection for all of ten minutes, I concluded that he was in the proper venue. Pastor Falwell was a master of disinformation. In fact, I’m guessing that three years after his death, he is still trying to explain to Jesus his propensity for bearing false witness for profit and political gain. I have reported several of his lies in a previous blog post and in Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger. A compilation of Falwell’s Gospel of Falsehoods would require 5000 words. And that is a very conservative estimate.
So it is appropriate that Glenn Beck opened his commencement remarks with a big fat one. After receiving an honorary degree, Beck tearfully told a filled stadium that he had failed to obtain a college degree because he was too poor to afford tuition. Boo hoo. Except his biography doesn’t suggest he lived in poverty, even though there were emotional crises. Before his parents divorce, they owned a bakery in Mount Vernon, Washington. His mother, an alcoholic, drowned in what was suspected to be a suicide. Following her death, Beck and his sister lived with their father. Whether or not he could afford tuition, there were numerous options of student loans and other financial aid.
But Beck has his own sobbing reality, which has made him a man for a troubled economic era. He has become a talk show phenomenon by exploiting the fears of an audience unwilling to question his populist rhetoric. His meteoric rise to national fame matches that of Rush Limbaugh, who became the mouthpiece of the so-called Newt Gingrich revolution in 1994, an upheaval of Congress that elected a disproportinate number of Republican hypocrites. In today’s Washington Post, political reporter Dana Milbank disclosed the sad statistics of the GOP congressional class of 1994—most of whom campaigned on promises of a higher standard of moral and Christian values. Fifteen of the 73 have since been involved in sexual escapades, divorces and/or scandals involving moral integrity.
It was during 1994 that I began observing Republican hyprocisy at close range. After CNN dispatched me to Arkansas to investigate the bogus Whitewater scandal, I became a witness to the kind of dirty politics that would cause the lowest of Louisiana’s scumbag politicians to flinch. Worse, the mainstream news media became cheerleaders for political assassins. Realizing that most reporters were too stupid to report what was going on, the extreme right-wing had a disinformation field day.
History is now repeating itself. Therefore, it is not surprising that a university founded by a right-wing zealot would invite a disinformation disciple to dispense the wisdom of a “rodeo clown” and confer upon him an Honorary Degree for Prevarication.
If people ever catch on to Beck’s gig, maybe my cousin-in-law can invite him to address bull riding graduates, who developed a high bull shit tolerance.
My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, is available at amazon.com and independent bookstores. It offers much more than $19.99 worth of laughs. It is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) career.