In a county where politicians are as bland as a Mission Viejo housing tract, Eddie Rose stands alone. He's the underdog candidate in the June 6 election for the county's 5th District supervisorial seat. Don't yawn. Rose's rhetoric matches his wardrobe—red Hawaiian shirts and red pants with white dress shoes. Tell me what other politician uses the phrase "jive talking." The entrenched powers that run Orange County despise this retired defense industry engineer and onetime Laguna Niguel city councilman. In the 1990s, Rose was the only elected official brave enough to oppose a mobbed-up Vegas family's plan to bulldoze a key ridgeline overlooking Laguna Beach.
OC Weekly: Who are you running against?
Eddie Rose: That would be Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Pat Bates and Cassie DeYoung?
Right. Bates is the Maria Antoinette of Laguna Niguel. She's an elitist multimillionaire, a poster child for conflicts of interest. She's in bed with all of the real-estate developers.
Is there any difference between Bates and DeYoung?
They are exactly the same. In fact, they are neighbors who live about two houses away from each other. But they want this supervisorial seat for different reasons. Bates wants it as a holding place until she can take Dick Ackerman's state Senate seat when he is termed out in a couple of years. DeYoung wants to be the next Pat Bates, so she's padding her rsum. They are in each other's way now, and we've got a cat fight. Which one can do more for real-estate developers and lobbyists? That's what their campaigns are all about. They're part of the culture of corruption that runs Orange County.
If you win a seat on the Board of Supervisors, what will be your priorities?
Saving open space. Dealing with gridlock in ways that do not actually worsen congestion. The toll roads are a farce. I'd push for some sort of mass transit. We've got to find ways to get cars off the highways. I'm also interested in a possible light rail line between Orange County and Vegas.
Are you still a Republican?
I was a Republican when I served on the Laguna Niguel City Council from 1994 to 1998. I like to say the party left me, not the other way around. In 2000, I ran as a Reform Party candidate for Congress and got more votes in my area than the guy at the top of the national ticket. Now I'm an independent.
What was your start in politics?
I was a Young Republican for Goldwater in 1964. The issues were different back then, like the threat of communism. I consider myself a Teddy Roosevelt conservative. I'm not like this clown Bush or Cheney. They are not true conservatives. They don't represent the little guy. They're robots for the big corporations.
What did you think of Clinton?
I didn't like a lot of the things he did, but at least nobody died because he lied. This Bush is the most incompetent, corrupt, evil president in U.S. history. He's a pathological liar. He shouldn't have put us in Iraq. There were no WMDs. We have no business there. He's wrecking the environment. He's letting the big corporations price gouge. He's letting the government wiretap citizens without warrants. This guy thinks he's above the law. I think he should be impeached.
Is Bush worse than Nixon?
Oh yeah. Remember that footage in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 where Bush is sitting with the grammar school kids in Florida and he's told that the World Trade Center towers were being attacked? He just sat there waiting for someone to tell him what to do. It was disgraceful. What an idiot!
You've been compared to Columbo, the inquisitive television detective.
I like to ask questions. I like to get honest answers. I like to think for myself. The bureaucrats and people like Bates and DeYoung hate me because I'm not a rubber stamp for the real-estate developers. They are always sweeping things under the rug. They'd rather the public not know what is going on. I want everything to be out in the open.
How are you funding your campaign?
Well, I'm not taking any contributions from companies that get business from the county. If you look at my two opponents, they are beholden to the people who want government contracts. They are getting that money because those businessmen want access, favors. I'm running a word-of-mouth campaign, and I'm saying that we need to shake things up. This county needs reform.
What do you think of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas?
You mean Roo-crook-ass?
You've told us about some of the characters you don't like. Is there anyone you'd recommend as a role model in Orange County politics?
I like Wally Wade, the prosecutor. He ran against Rackauckas but lost. That was terrible for the county. Wade is an honorable guy. I also like [former DA] Mike Capizzi. He angered the forces of corruption here. He was evenhanded. He prosecuted Republicans and Democrats who violated the law. Of course, you aren't allowed to be evenhanded in Orange County. You're supposed to look the other way when it comes to Republican lawbreakers. But I also like Sandy Genis, the former Costa Mesa mayor; Tom Rogers, who headed the Republican Party here a long time ago; and Mark Petracca, the professor at UC Irvine. These are people who haven't sold out.
What big issues do you have with Democrats?
Well, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are pretty good on environmental issues. They've paid attention. But as much as I like them on that, I don't agree with them on border security. I'm totally opposed to amnesty for the illegals. This open border situation is unacceptable.
Most candidates show voters a list of endorsements. You have a list of non-endorsements.
Right. I want people to know that I am proud of the people who would never support my campaign.
You've listed real-estate developers like George Argyros and Donald Bren, but you also cite Janet Reno, Karl Rove, MEChA, Philip Morris Co., Scott Peterson, Dennis Rodman, O.J. Simpson, Greg Haidl, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson and Halliburton.
You didn't mention that Schwarzenegger, the gropinator, is listed there too.
Or Kobe Bryant. You once said about his rape case, "If the condom does not fit, you must acquit."
Did I say that? [Laughs.] I guess I did.
In 1995, your comments about the O.J. Simpson not-guilty verdict won you national headlines. You said defense lawyer Johnny Cochran won by "jive talking" to the mostly black jury.
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Right. I stand by that. That was a stupid jury that ignored all the evidence against O.J. People made a big deal out of what I said, but the victim and the victim's family live right down the road in Dana Point. I wasn't trying to be a racist. I was talking about the injustice of what happened. He was guilty as hell. We've got two justice systems in this country. One for the rich and famous, and one for the rest of us.
Controversy is your constant companion.
There's a lot to yell about. I really believe the public wants more people in politics who will tell the truth and aren't afraid of stepping on a few toes.