Don Young: The Most Challenging PR Disaster Ever?


The Congressperson for all Alaskans who voted for him, Don Young (R, Don’t Blame Me), has his foot in his mouth again, this time up past his knee. Of course, both of Young’s feet are badly chapped, they’ve been in his mouth so many times. He’d be a public relations challenge for anyone, even for the skills of someone like Nate Walsh. After all, a 14-year old Toyota Camry (“It’s only been puked in twice.”) is a piece of PR cake compared to OUF, Our Unindicted Felon.

As you probably have heard, OUF, in an public radio interview in Ketchikan, in response to a question about immigration, told the reporter about growing up on a farm in the Central Valley of California. He volunteered,

My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.

Later that same day,  the OUF’s press secretary, Mike Anderson – now there’s a challenging job –  issued a statement, allegedly from OUF, apologizing for the racist comment:

During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California. I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.

Migrant workers play an important role in America’s workforce, and earlier in the said interview, I discussed the compassion and understanding I have for these workers and the hurdles they face in obtaining citizenship. America must once and for all tackle the issue of immigration reform.

 (“Earlier in the said interview”? OUF is purely incapable of saying something like that. Here’s a tip, Mr. Anderson: make an effort to sound like the person you’re claiming to quote.)

And by the way, WC is from the Central Valley of California. And the only person he ever heard use the racist term, “wetback” was his drunken, racist uncle.

Of course, OUF has an embarrassingly long, embarrassingly appalling record. Space doesn’t permit WC to set them all out. But in 1994, he waved an oosik (a walrus’s penis bone) around at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hearing. And this is the guy who, when speaking to students at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, criticized federal funding of the arts because it had underwritten, “photographs of people doing offensive things,” and “things that are absolutely ridiculous.” Asked by a student for specifics, OUF answered, “Buttf**king.”

Sheila Toomey at the Anchorage Daily News had a recent partial compendium of these gems:

Who can forget “Pribilof’s dog,” “bladderdash” and the “money we get is a piddlance of the total bill.” Well we remember his claim that he convinced his wife to get a “monogram” (you know, to prevent breast cancer). And he once reported replacing copper piping in his home with inexpensive “PCP pipe” (Ear is pretty sure he meant PVC pipe; if not, hallucinations may have been involved.).

And there’s Ear’s most recent favorite, in which Don explains seemingly contradictory comments to a TV reporter: “I don’t agree with what I said.”

Some folks have accused OUF of lacking a regulator or governor on his speech. They suggest that there’s nothing in his brain that regulates what comes out of his mouth. WC disagrees. There is such a governor and it is easily described. WC will quote Nate Walsh again. “What would a drunken, profane second grader do?” The famous temper tantrums? Obviously second grader conduct. Wearing a beanie to a public meeting? Ditto. WC can’t be completely certain about the drunken part, but all of the indications are that OUF has the emotional controls of a second grader. If that’s not too harsh on second graders.

The Associated Press reports that OUF is back before the House Ethics Committee.

The allegations against Young, a Republican who has served in the House since 1973, focus on his expenses and travel costs for trips that were already the subject of an ethics investigation. The investigative subcommittee will look at whether he, or persons acting on his behalf, obtained or received improper gifts, misused official resources or campaign funds for personal use or failed to report gifts on required disclosure statements.

The committee said in a statement that it will investigate the allegations after a referral from the Department of Justice. The department had previously investigated allegations Young accepted gifts in exchange for political patronage.

The badly overworked Mr. Anderson, OUF’s press secretary, said OUF would cooperate with the investigation. “Congressman Young has cooperated with the committee and will continue to do so,” he said.

Damn. There goes another million dollars in attorneys’ fees.

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One thought on “Don Young: The Most Challenging PR Disaster Ever?

  1. Dear WC,
    Any chance of awarding “Alaska’s Shame” to OUF on the grounds that he has established title to it in a way that the ex-Gov. never has done?
    Paul Eaglin
    Fairbanks

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