“Everybody in the industry is like, ‘Oh, Obama’s doing such a great job …’ I don’t think so. Not from what I see.” So quoth music industry rebel and political iconoclast Dave Mustaine in an interview with MusicRadar.com this week, an interview wherein he also discusses his acting ambitions and bitches about Fred Durst. The answer to America’s problems, according to Mustaine, consists of two words, one of which may or may not be a neologism for fecal sludge: Rick Santorum.
Anyone who’s followed Mustaine’s career will know he’s long had conservative inclinations, but he’s not the only musician who’s broken with the liberal norm to make an unlikely political endorsement. From Fidel Castro to Sarah Palin, pretty much every much ideological base has been covered over the years. Here is a selection of the strangest — some hilarious, some plain weird, and at least one hugely depressing.
Dave Mustaine endorses Rick Santorum
But first: Mustaine on Santorum. As it turns out, Mustaine’s support for the Republican primary race’s wingiest nut isn’t so much a case of an abiding love for homophobic evangelicals as it is a process of elimination. According to Dave, Mitt Romney’s too rich (“Mitt Romney’s five boys have a $100 million trust fund. Where does a guy make that much money?”), while Ron Paul’s too, well, Ron Paul-y (“He’ll make total sense for a while, and then he’ll say something so way out that it negates everything else”). And Rick Santorum “went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable,” which indicates he “has some presidential qualities.” Fun fact: Dave Mustaine’s vote counts for the exact same amount as yours does!
Shakira endorses Hugo Chávez
Of course, it’s not just musicians on the right who have questionable taste in endorsees. Generally likeable Colombian pop star Shakira’s decision to donate an autographed guitar to ever-more autocratic Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez last year went down like a sack of shit both internationally and in her home country, perhaps because Chávez had recently described the then Colombian president, right-winger and anti-Chávezista Alvaro Uribe, as a “criminal” and a “madman.”
Noel Gallagher endorses Tony Blair
Behold: the moment when Britpop officially died.
Kelly Clarkson endorses Ron Paul
Clarkson’s unlikely support for Ron Paul was her very own Dixie Chicks moment — the catalyst for a whole lot of fans to jump up and down screaming about how she should shut up and keep to singing. She later clarified her initial profession of love for Paul (“If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote”) by saying, “I am really sorry if I have offended anyone… I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country.” But Kelly, don’t people “make decisions and mold their country” by electing, y’know, a government? To govern?
Johnny Ramone endorses Ronald Reagan
There were plenty of reasons that the Ramones didn’t particularly like one another — not least the fact that Joey’s girlfriend ran off with Johnny — but their political divisions were certainly a contributing factor. Johnny was famously right wing (he once described Ronald Reagan as “the best president of my lifetime”), and his political differences with Joey came to a head over 1985 single “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” a song the singer had written to denounce Reagan’s visit to the Bitburg cemetery in Berlin, where members of the SS were buried. Joey suggested the visit meant the president “sort of shit on everybody”; Johnny, by contrast, would brook no disrespect to Reagan and insisted that the song’s title be changed.
Eric Clapton endorses Enoch Powell
If you’re not familiar with Enoch Powell, he was a British conservative MP best known for his notorious 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech about immigration to the UK, wherein he compared people opposing discrimination against immigrants to those who appeased Hitler, suggested Britons would soon be “made strangers in their own country,” and argued that “we must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents… it is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.” Impressively, Clapton managed to be even more offensive during a drunken on-stage paean to Powell in 1976. We’ve embedded the YouTube reenactment above, but here are some choice quotes: “All the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting… I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white.” (We will note for posterity here that Eric Clapton is chiefly known for playing the blues, a form of music pioneered by, y’know, black people.)
50 Cent endorses George W. Bush
Back in 2005, in the aftermath of Kanye West’s notorious “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment, one Curtis Jackson went in to bat for the president, praising Bush to the rafters: “He incredible. A gangsta. I wanna meet George Bush, just shake his hand and tell him how much of me I see in him.” We agree completely: George Bush is indeed a gangster!
Manic Street Preachers endorse Fidel Castro
The Manics are probably just as renowned for being contrary and perverse as they are for being idealistic (this is a band, after all, that brought its own toilets to Glastonbury and included a pro-capital punishment song on its masterpiece, The Holy Bible). Few moments in their career have better demonstrated both contrariness and idealism than their trip to Cuba in 2001, where Fidel himself was part of the 5,000-strong audience for their show at the Teatro Karl Marx in Havana. Castro was apparently a fan — he described the show as “louder than war” and met the band beforehand. The group called the encounter “their greatest honour” — we can’t imagine that the sizeable gay section of their fanbase agreed, sadly.
Ben Weasel endorses Sarah Palin
For obvious reasons, it’s hard to find anyone outside of the likes of One Million Moms willing to go on record to say anything nice about Sarah Palin. But never fear, there’s always one: step forward Ben Weasel of Screeching Weasel, who spoke last February about how he “like[d] Sarah Palin as a public figure” and argued that “the people who despise Sarah Palin are often the same people who despise middle America.” He did concede that “I doubt I’d vote for her in a primary,” but hey, that’s OK… she didn’t run, did she?
Moe Tucker endorses the Tea Party
You may well remember the moment when a video surfaced online of someone who looked awfully like ex-Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker attending a Tea Party rally. Despite everyone’s hopes to the contrary, it turned out that it was indeed Tucker, who later told the St Louis Riverfront Times about her views, ranting about everything from governmental control of the census to environmentally friendly light bulbs. Sigh.
Ted Nugent: Anyone with guns
Ah, the Nuge. Truly, there’s no one quite like him.
Bono endorses, um, Rick Santorum
Bono’s political leanings are well known, as is his penchant for publicity and the careful stage-management of his image. But occasionally, all the care in the world can’t prevent a quote like this coming back to haunt him: “I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette’s disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable.” The “issues” Bono speaks of are the fight against AIDS, which actually isn’t a surprise given Santorum’s apparent determination to stop anyone from having sex, ever. But even so, we suspect Bono rather wishes he hadn’t said this now — the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that…