Has the pre-/post-election insanity finally started to subside? Are people coming out from under their beds and daring to go back outside? Have canned food sales at the grocery store finally fallen back to normal levels?
Most anecdotal evidence, as well as firm research on the subject, suggests Americans went technically “batshit crazy” in the months surrounding the presidential election. Ask almost anyone who owns a business and they’ll tell you, people just stopped buying things over much of the past three months. Fortune 500 company directors have noted the same phenomenon.
“I’m not buying a car! I don’t know if that (insert appropriate expletive) is going to end up being president!” seems to have been a common attitude. “I’m not buying a ballpoint pen until I know who the next president is!” was a bit more extreme, but maybe just as common, attitude.
People even stopped watching the NFL! Face it, collectively we lost our minds.
But the NFL ratings are coming back up and people are starting to focus again on what outlandishly overpriced toy they’re going to buy their 3-month-old nephew. Slowly the insanity meter is being rolled back to its usual DEFCON 3.
Fortunately in Alabama the normal level of insanity is worthy of its own cable channel.
As we’ve been caught up in the national insanity, our own craziness has kind of taken a back burner — particularly as it relates to the antics of our own Luv Guv and whether he may be impeached. But the focus has come back to Gov. Robert Bentley in the past couple of weeks, primarily because it looks likely he’ll get a chance to appoint a U.S. Senator to replace Jeff Sessions if our current junior senator is confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General.
Yes, the spotlight is burning white-hot on Bentley right now as one of Alabama’s favorite new parlor games is guessing who’ll be appointed and explaining why you’re able to read the mind of a man who’s done some of the most politically baffling things anyone has ever seen.
But even as the Luv Guv is having a moment when he can try to focus on being gubernatorial, a new lawsuit landed with a thud that makes him once again look far more “goobernatorial.”
Last week, Wendell Ray Lewis, the governor’s security chief and part of his “crew” filed a wrongful termination suit against Bentley and dropped a few more bizarre details about “the affair.” Lewis’ suit just adds more spice to an already boiling boil of political gumbo that has Bentley and his top adviser, Rebekah Mason, as its roux.
As we all know by now, Bentley is accused of having an affair with Mason, and that has spawned criminal investigations and impeachment efforts with the governor at its center. While Lewis’ lawsuit doesn’t move things in an entirely different direction, it does paint a more detailed picture of what exactly was happening with our lovelorn leader.
Frankly the picture Lewis paints is somewhat reminiscent of middle school, with professions of love to friends, sudden breakups, equally sudden reconciliations and even some illicit drug activity. Oh my!
Let’s get one thing straight, Lewis’ claims are just that — claims. Bentley denies a lot of what was filed in the suit. He’s called it “baseless, malicious, slanderous, salacious and poorly constructed” and simply an “attempt to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from state of Alabama taxpayers, myself and my family.”
But by the same token the governor has consistently claimed he didn’t have a physical relationship with a woman whose breasts he was recorded extolling the virtues of holding, so draw your own conclusions.
Lewis backs up others’ claims, including those of former Alabama Law Enforcement Association Director Spencer Collier, that Bentley admitted to the affair among his inner circle. Bentley allegedly told Lewis he was in love with both his then-wife Dianne and Mason, but he loved Mason more. I can just see him scratching Dianne’s name off his Trapper-Keeper notebook.
Supposedly many people pleaded with Bentley to end his affair, but he wouldn’t. Lewis claims to have at one point “broken up” with Mason on Bentley’s behalf, only to have the randy governor come into the room, rub her shoulders and tell her “Baby, it’s gonna be alright.”
Bentley supposedly also used his wife’s name to order generic Viagra and had it shipped to the governor’s mansion. Ouch!
There’s info about how the two allegedly met at the Blount House in Montgomery because it didn’t keep a visitor’s log, and how they began taking private jets places because they didn’t keep a manifest. Lewis claims Bentley also wanted his secretary Wanda “gone” after he suspected she’d become aware of the affair.
As in some previous reports, it appears Collier may also have been helping keep things quiet at first. Lewis’ lawsuit claims Collier moved money around to pay members of the governor’s staff in such a way that almost half a million dollars in salary wouldn’t show up in the governor’s budget. Lewis says he was told those funds came from Homeland Security.
And Lewis also throws Collier under the bus concerning his own alleged affair. The suit says that when Lewis and Collier talked to Bentley about ending things with Mason, “The governor, crying, replied ‘Spencer, how did you end yours?’ and Collier allegedly told him, ‘Governor, I just cut it off at the nub. You’re gonna have to cut it off at the nub …. It’s gonna bleed, but you will eventually get over it.’”
So now, even as he’s faced with picking who might take Sessions’s seat, Bentley’s love life continues to take center stage. At the same time Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office investigates whether Bentley misused state funds and property in carrying on this affair, Big Luther is telling everyone that whoever Bentley appoints, he’s going to beat them when an election is held in 2018.
If it hadn’t all come on the heels of the strangest national election ever, I’d imagine all eyes would be focused on Montgomery. But with things starting to calm down it is nice to know Alabama’s taking back its rightful place at the head of the political loony bin.