This article features contributions from Gustavo Arellano, Paul Brennan, Anthony Pignataro, Nick Schou, Will Swaim and most especially R. Scott Moxley.
We here at OC Weekly really get a chuckle out of newfound rabble-rousers who have suddenly “discovered” Surfin’ Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Mars) is “out of touch.” And we’re rolling at the fact that national media is now tripping over one another to “expose” the soon-to-be 70-year-old as a threat to our nation. Girl, we’ve supplied the ammo to form that negative opinion of the Mouth That Rohrabachered since 1995, and we would have done so sooner were it not for the fact that everyone’s favorite OC-based infernal rag had not yet been founded.
So, to be clear, United States Representative Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher is a draft-dodging chicken hawk; a fashionably retarded wingnut; an asteroid-fearing, climate-change-denying free-market anarchist/libertarian/Yaffer; a folk-singing dope smoker who once wrote for the Orange County Register op-ed pages, then speeches for then-President Reagan, before parlaying the latter gig into a successful first run for Congress in 1988 with the help of his pal Ollie North and a pledge to support term limits.
He has not left the House since.
Rohrabacher’s greatest claims to fame are having hung out with Afghans who fought Soviets before terrorizing the free world, having a bug up his ass when it comes to China and, in recent years, under very suspicious circumstances, becoming Russia’s most ardent supporter on Capitol Hill. And through it all, he somehow got his dusty demon seed to spawn triplets out of his husky wife, Rhonda.
Never quite in tune politically with Californians outside his district—except the potheads, who call him “Weed Jesus” because they’re stoned out of their box—or Republicans in his own party, Rohrabacher finally found himself on the same frequency as a U.S. president with the election of Donald Trump, who supposedly considered the congressman for Secretary of State, although Dana seemed to be the one blowing the most smoke about that possibility. For Indivisible types and others zeroed in on changing the 48th Congressional District because they have discovered to their shock—SHOCK!—that a fleshy mound of barnyard excrement has been representing their interests in D.C. for decades and now need to drill down on what hell he has wrought so they might finally, finally turn him out, we present this OC Weekly Dana Rohrabacher Reader, drawn from the more than 700 articles in our archives over the past 21 years. You can find all the links in the online version of this story. Enjoy . . . er, I mean . . . you’ll see.
“Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work,” Dec. 8, 1995. In which our man convenes congressional hearings to protect industries from looming global-warming legislation. Excerpt: “Liberal claptrap, trendy but soon to go out of style,” Rohrabacher declared at a previous hearing on ozone depletion in September. Ironically enough, he uttered these words just two days before UC Irvine professor Sherwood Rowland was awarded the Nobel Prize, in part for his work linking ozone depletion to global warming.
“Rohrabacher: ‘I Am Not a Homosexual,'” Feb. 13, 1998. “Michael Capizzi—our district attorney—tried to plant a story that I am a homosexual,” Rohrabacher tells reporters, joining the ranks of former New York City mayor Ed Koch and Eddie Murphy as a public figure who felt they needed to proclaim their heterosexuality to the heavens. Capizzi denies ever saying the congressman went that way. Excerpt: “Rohrabacher is definitely a homosexual,” one outspoken Newport Beach Republican has repeatedly claimed without offering any substantial proof. In the last election, anonymous individuals made similar allegations to the local media, pointing out that, for years, the congressman shared a house with another man.
“Constitutional Cuisinart,” Feb. 18, 1999. Rohrabacher submits a bill that would require at least one parent to be a U.S. citizen before a child born on U.S. soil is granted the same status—a direct challenge to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Excerpt: Rohrabacher tells the Weekly, “We have become a magnet for all the pregnant women of the world.”
“Still Hazy After All These Years,” April 1, 1999. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer dropping criminal charges against Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) for a plot to plant a decoy Democrat in a 1995 Assembly special election pretty much wraps up a case that has been thoroughly dissected by the local media—except for one nagging detail: then-Orange County Register reporter Jean O. Pasco’s effort to keep Congressman Dana Rohrabacher out of the scandal. Excerpt: Pasco refused for almost three months to print a fact she knew to be true: that Rhonda Carmony—then a Rohrabacher aide, now his wife—was one of a few Republicans organizing the decoy effort.
“Bush Victory Evidence of God’s Existence,” Dec. 7, 2000. Rohrabacher addresses a meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, the hate group that created Proposition 187, the Minuteman Project AND the Birther movement. He would go on to speak at their functions frequently over the years; this time around, he praises the Lord. Excerpt: “I have no doubt—and there’s no doubt in my mind as I tell you tonight—that George W. Bush will be the next president of the U.S.,” Rohrabacher said in a Nov. 29 speech to a group at the Garden Grove Women’s Civic Club. “George W. Bush becoming president is just further proof of the existence of God. There is no other explanation.”
“Dr. Frankenbacher,” Sept. 27, 2001. Nostradana? Rohrabacher says he had a premonition the day before that something bad was going to happen on Sept. 11, 2001, because of the assassination of the Taliban’s greatest internal enemy, the Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud. Excerpt: There is wicked irony in the fact that it is Rohrabacher who believes he can read the actions of Afghanistan’s most unstable and dangerous personalities—because it was Rohrabacher who spent much of his young policy-wonk days during the anti-Camelot of the Reagan administration helping to arm many of the very Afghan veterans now accused of carrying out the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.
“Rogue Statesman,” Sept. 5, 2002. Federal documents reviewed by the Weekly show that Rohrabacher maintained a cordial, behind-the-scenes relationship with Osama bin Laden’s associates in the Middle East—even while he mouthed his most severe anti-Taliban comments at public forums across the U.S. There’s worse: Despite the federal Logan Act ban on unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, the congressman dangerously acted as a self-appointed Secretary of State, constructing what foreign-affairs experts call a “dual tract” policy with the Taliban. Excerpt: A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, “If Dana’s right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn’t be so happy.”
“Rohrabacher Gets a Taste of the Lash,” Oct. 28, 2004. Dana gets pounded during a candidates’ forum. Excerpt: “I hope you’ve learned tonight that I’m a creative thinker and I do a lot of work for the people. . . . Free enterprise and low taxes is the way! The U.S. is the force for freedom on the planet! We’ve got to build a better world!”
“Drunk With Power,” Nov. 4, 2004. In which our man seems to trade, shot for shot, with boozy bros at the OC GOP election-night party celebrating Dubya’s victory over John Kerry. Excerpt: In politics, there are few images funnier than Rohrabacher; nothing—not even an angry Bob Dornan—tops an apparently intoxicated Rohrabacher wearing a red-white-and-blue Uncle Sam hat and a drunk’s smile. He grabbed the podium with both hands and stared at the overflow crowd as if trying to focus. Before he hooted and danced around the stage, Rohrabacher screamed, “We just saved America! . . . Kick ass! . . . America is back! Bin Laden is history!”
“Mr. Rohrabacher Writes a Check,” May 17, 2006. Producer Joseph Medawar paid $23,000 for a movie script by Rohrabacher, who also assisted in making connections in D.C.—before Medawar pleaded guilty to swindling “about 50 investors” out of “roughly $3.4 million.” Rohrabacher eventually returned it. Excerpt: Of course the real victim in all this is the moviegoing public, whose chances of ever seeing Baja, the Rohrabacher cinematic epic Medawar optioned, have been dealt a near fatal blow. Baja is the story of men doing very manly things with one another in Mexico. And while that does sound blockbuster-ish and exactly the sort of thing one might expect from Dana Rohrabacher, I must confess that Baja is not my favorite Rohrabacher screen-gem-in-waiting. That honor belongs to his script titled The French Doctoresse, “a romance set during the French Resistance,” which, as The American Prospect‘s Sam Rosen notes, “raised a few eyebrows for its oddly positive depiction of Adolf Hitler.”
“Rohrabacher’s Appalling Flatulence,” Feb. 13, 2007. Didn’t you know that global warming is not manmade, but rather the result of dinosaur farts? Dana does! Excerpt: The question about the noxious gas emitted by thunder-lizards was part of the noxious gas Rohrabacher emitted during last week’s Congressional hearing on the new [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report on global climate change. The report spelled out in unequivocal language the role of human activity in climate change and its disastrous consequences. But the Surfin’ One doesn’t believe in the human role in global warming that scientists have so clearly documented. He don’t hold with all that science and fancy book-learnin’. Hence, his kindergarten-level question about dinosaur farts.
“Boy, Oh, Boy,” Jan. 10, 2008. In which a $1.35 million civil suit alleges Jeffrey Ray Nielsen used his position as Rohrabacher’s congressional aide in 1994-95 to molest underage boys. Excerpt: The case grew stronger when prosecutors filed a second molestation case, based in part on the Virginia boy’s statements to the Weekly. In December, after four years of angry denials, Nielsen finally admitted to molesting both youngsters.
“Dana Rohrabacher Went in Drag to Solve Already-Solved RFK Assassination?” Sept. 30, 2008. Rohrabacher launches his own investigation into the Robert Kennedy assassination at LA’s Ambassador Hotel, where he says he happened to be on the same tragic night in 1968. Excerpt: Sirhan Sirhan sent Summer Reese, one of his lawyers, a letter telling her that “a Diana was coming to see him” at Corcoran State Prison. “Sirhan didn’t know it was the congressman,” Reese says, “because his visitor was presented as a woman.” Rohrabacher. Undercover. In drag. Using the name Diana?
“Dana Rohrabacher Praised for Saying the Sky is Falling,” Feb. 10, 2009. The no-doubt-august Institute for Human Continuity hails Rohrabacher for seeking increased government funding to stop an asteroid from slamming the planet and obliterating mankind. Excerpt: Referencing Near Earth Objects, Rohrabacher says, “However remote the possibility of an NEO striking the Earth and causing a worldwide calamity, no matter how obscure that may sound to some, is still a calculable threat.” Funny, he does not see global warming as a calculable threat. Guess it depends on which scientists are commending him.
“Make Sure Dana Rohrabacher Never Accepts Social Security,” June 9, 2009. We find an April 4, 1969, Los Angeles Times article on a Young Americans for Freedom protest outside the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana, along with a photo with a caption that reads, “John Schurman holds a card for Dana Rohrabacher, head of the group, to burn.” Excerpt: Can someone out there ask Dana to make sure he never, ever uses a penny of Social Security money lest he be proven a hypocrite again?
“Five OC Illegal Immigrants Who Did More to Better Humanity Than Dana Rohrabacher,” May 28, 2010. Rohrabacher threatens Santa Ana College for trying to create a scholarship fund for undocumented college students. Excerpt: Dana’s just jealous because illegals in Orange County have done much better things to better humanity than he can ever hope to contribute.
“Dana Rohrabacher Finds New Reason for Fear,” Sept. 24, 2010. Rohrabacher suggests the U.S. military, after finishing up operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pivot to . . . Burma? Excerpt: Rohrabacher says the generals running Burma are seeking nuclear weapons, and though he provides no evidence to support his claim, he insists the threat is not theoretical. In other words, we have another reason to further boost Pentagon spending during a period of recession and astronomical government debt. This assertion might have more credibility if it didn’t come from a chicken hawk who managed to skip Vietnam War duty when he was eligible to fight and who this year alone personally sought additional federal earmarks of $12.9 billion for Long Beach defense contractor Boeing.
“Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s Wife Took 50 Percent of Congressional Campaign Contributions,” Oct. 26, 2011. Huntington Beach’s congressman gave his wife more than 50 percent of the campaign contributions he raised mostly from corporate sources during three months in 2011, according to the Federal Election Commission. Excerpt: Since 2006, Rhonda has collected more than a quarter of a million dollars from her husband’s campaign coffers, according to FEC records. . . . During that same period—and while most of the rest of the nation suffered economically, Dana gave his wife a whopping 40 percent in raises.
“Dana Rohrabacher Described as a Woman By Newspaper,” Nov. 4, 2011. Remembering the time when The Economic Times described Rohrabacher as a “congresswoman.” Excerpt: We’d heard rumors that Rhonda Rohrabacher wore the pants in the family. And we did notice that the congressman/woman’s cheeks have looked a bit more rosy lately but thought it was just the tequila overdoses. Did he/she have a secret operation? Is Rohrabacher now officially ball-less? Do the triplets have two mommies?
“Dana Rohrabacher: 1995 Bill Clinton Blow Job Caused 2001 Terrorist Attacks,” Jan. 6, 2012. He tweets late at night that President Bill Clinton’s “sex in the White House” caused the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that murdered more than 2,975 innocent people. Excerpt: Of course, Clinton’s sticky mess with intern Monica Lewinsky occurred six years before the suicide-bomber missions, which—last I checked—happened more than seven months into the presidency of George W. Bush.
“Dana Rohrabacher Gets Lectured for Lying on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher,” Jan. 28, 2012. Rohrabacher says on Real Time With Bill Maher that the president was gutting the military, only to be corrected by the host that military spending had increased under President Barack Obama. Excerpt: When Maher noted that Obama had increased military spending each year in office, Rohrabacher shot back: “What planet are you on?” “Can we deal in facts?” Maher replied. “Give me a break,” said Rohrabacher. “Everybody in this audience knows this man wants to [gut the military].” “No!” said Maher. “I know it’s weird, but can we just introduce facts?”
“Dana Rohrabacher Blames ‘Rude’ Female for His Gaffes on Bill Maher’s HBO Show,” Jan. 29, 2012. In the face of howls over his appearance on Maher’s show, Dana blames a former MTV veejay and KROQ personality. Excerpt: Never one to sink into the gutter and skip a chance to go lower, the 12-term congressman responded to national criticism of his performance with Maher by blaming the presence of a female co-panelist: Kennedy, the energetic Libertarian from Reason TV. “Kennedy’s aggressive and rude interruptions threw me off,” Rohrabacher—who has been involved in national politics for four decades—wrote in a Twitter message today.
“Dana Rohrabacher Accused of Chewing Out 18-Year-Old College Student Who Visited His D.C. Office,” Feb. 18, 2013. Who makes a teen constituent whose parents are undocumented cry? Dana. Excerpt: Rohrabacher followed them out of his office, yelling and shaking a finger at them, at one point asking if they’d left his office their contact information and, when that was answered in the affirmative, saying, “Good, now I know where you live.”
“Was Representative Dana Rohrabacher Drunk During CNN Appearance on Government Shutdown?” Oct. 7, 2013. An appearance on CNN leads Wonkette’s Rebecca Schoenkopf (the Weekly‘s former Commie Girl) to post a video with the title “On Scale of One to Dana Rohrabacher, How Drunk is Dana Rohrabacher in This Video?” Excerpt: The usually scowling congressman is giddy, his eyes are watery, and he seems to think everything is funny—like Otis on Mayberry RFD. Note in the upper-right corner of the screen the time of Rohrabacher’s apparent intoxication: 11:22 a.m.
“Dana Rohrabacher Is Dirty,” Dec. 19, 2013. In which the four-bedroom, four-bathroom, million-dollar Costa Mesa rental home he, Rhonda and the triplets moved out of in August 2012 was left a shockingly disgusting pigsty. Excerpt: A second-floor suite used by Dana’s wife, Rhonda, as her bedroom contained a huge, mysterious, lubricant-like stain—something you might expect on the floor of a Hollywood sex club—that had seeped through the thick carpet and padding to tarnish a hardwood floor.
“Rich Congressman, Poor Congressman: Issa and Rohrabacher at Opposite Ends of Roll Call List,” Oct. 7, 2014. Rohrabacher lands at No. 5 on a D.C. insider list of the 10 poorest members of Congress, with a net worth of MINUS $924,000. Excerpt: Rohrabacher? More like Poorabacher. . . . Although his spot carries an asterisk. One of his biggest liabilities in the calculation—a mortgage exceeding $500,000—was paid off during 2013. Reporting rules still require him to list that mortgage under his liabilities.
“Be Afraid: With Trump’s Win, Dana Rohrabacher is Now OC’s Most Powerful Republican,” Nov. 10, 2016. Morning-after dispatch from Rohrabacher’s raucuous Election Night party, where he (rightfully) crowned himself as the most powerful OC GOPuke in Washington. Excerpt: Will the man who’s increasingly looking like Grandpa Munster and once left a rental home wrecked be placed on higher-ranking congressional committees as the national GOP gets taken over by Trumpbros?
“BULLETIN: There’s Finally a Way to Rid Congress of Dana Rohrabacher!” Nov. 30, 2016. Dana’s self-promotion of the nomination to be Donald Trump’s Secretary of State has a silver lining. Excerpt: The only way the Orange County congressional delegation is finally going to rid itself of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Havana) is if Donald Trump nominates him for Secretary of State.
“The List of Dana Rohrabacher’s Convicted Friends and Lovers Grows Ever Longer,” Jan. 18, 2017. The conviction of his former campaign treasurer informs a list of other past criminal cons tied to the veteran lawmaker—including his wife! Excerpt: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to influence peddling charges that rocked Capitol Hill, and he was ultimately sentenced to six years in federal prison (although he only served 43 months). Naturally, his longtime friend Rohrabacher rallied to Abramoff’s defense. “They’re portraying Jack as a monster,” Rohrabacher complained to the Associated Press. “I see him more as a good person who’s done bad things and has to be punished for doing bad things.”
“Mom of 2-Year-Old Knocked Down by Dana Rohrabacher’s Staffer Speaks Out,” Feb. 20, 2017. Activists demanding a town hall meet a locked door at Rohrabacher’s district office in Huntington Beach. A 2-year-old is knocked down by the suddenly opening door. About 10 Indivisible OC members in the hall are riled up, and in the chaos, a 71-year-old Rohrabacher staffer also hits the ground. Excerpt: The story became catnip to the Right after Rohrabacher issued a statement calling the protest a “mob action that not only intimidates but coerces,” that the “holier-than-thou obstructionists will be held responsible for this outrageous assault,” and accused them of “political thuggery, pure and simple.”
“Representative Dana Rohrabacher Claims Russian Authoritarianism Is Morally Equal to USA,” March 10, 2017. In his brain, China’s leaders are “foreign thugs” and “jackboots” worthy of contempt for opposing democracy and oppressing its citizens’ freedom, but he gives Russia a pass for authoritarian practices despite Vladimir Putin’s documented corruption, campaign to erode all civil liberties and likely ties to assassinations to quiet government criticism. Excerpt: The congressman downplayed Putin’s burglaries of computers tied to Hillary Clinton’s campaign because the espionage produced “accurate information” to harm the Democrats and, besides, he claims, the United States secretly meddles in Russia’s elections, too.
“Dana Rohrabacher Goes on Fox to Defend Vladimir Putin . . . Again,” March 29, 2017. Though there are unfinished investigations by the FBI, U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate into Russia’s interference with the last election, Putin’s Southern California buddy somehow already claims to know the truth. Excerpt: Whatever the Russians did “isn’t something that damaged our election process,” Rohrabacher tells FOX News.
“Putin Payin’ Dana? Rohrabacher Claims He Man Crushes on Vlad for Free,” May 18, 2017. His name turns up in a transcript from a secret House leadership talk about Putin paying the congressman and Trump, two of the Russian president’s staunchest D.C. allies. Excerpt: Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs says his boss has been a consistent advocate of “working closer with the Russians to combat radical Islamism. The congressman doesn’t need to be paid to come to such a necessary conclusion.”
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.