In an only-in-the-Assembly moment we’ve grown accustomed to, members of the lower house decided to take up a resolution honoring actor John Wayne with his own day.
It failed, pilgrim.
Wayne could only muster 35 votes, mostly from Republicans. The actor’s hyper-macho, shoot-first, ask-questions-later and let-God-sort-’em-out archetype represents what’s left of the GOP base.
In 1971, he gave an interview to Playboy magazine that I would readily concede contained racist remarks, sounding more like David Duke than the Duke. He also gave a speech at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration that was truly moving and reflected true love of country, and not insane partisanship.
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In short, Wayne was a flawed but accurate reflection of the way Americans view themselves, even if that reflection was distorted.
So, let’s ponder what other movie stars the Assembly might decide to put to a vote.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 321 honoring Kermit the Frog. Assembly Democrats pushed hard on Kermit’s green credentials. Republicans pushed back, calling Kermit a “bad example for children” because he was in love with a female from another species. Passed 47-33.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 455 honoring The Three Stooges. Assembly Republicans strongly backed the measure, as Larry, Moe and Curly reminded them of their 2016 presidential primary race. Democrats blasted the Stooges’ “proclivity toward violence over peaceful negotiation.” Failed 52-28.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 982 honoring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Democrats mustered against the resolution, calling it “fundamentally racist and perpetuating hurtful stereotypes.” Republicans joined in opposition, citing “fundamental concerns about one woman living inexplicably with seven unusual men.” Failed 77-3.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 665 honoring Superman. Assembly GOP leadership badly wanted this one to pass, urging members to consider Superman’s “tough on crime credentials and emphasis on self-reliance.” However, some GOP members were troubled by Superman’s “alien status.” Democrats took a walk, preferring the Man of Steel’s Clark Kent persona, who they said “embodied mild manners instead of physical confrontation.” Failed 66-14.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 555 honoring Jack Nicholson. Republicans liked Nicholson’s rebel demeanor in movies such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” citing his portrayal as a “libertarian struggling against the excesses of the state,” and Democrats also weighed in positively, calling for more mental health funding. However, Bay Area Warrior-loving legislators hated Nicholson’s obsession with the Lakers. Passed 61-19.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 304 honoring Jimmy Stewart. A GOP favorite, Stewart’s performance in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was lauded by Republicans as an “example of someone not reliant on charity with strong family values.” Democrats joined the GOP, calling Stewart’s George Bailey character “representing the strong need for serious banking reform.” Passed 60-20.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 772 honoring Queen Elsa in “Frozen.” GOP leadership flatly rejected the effort, calling her “the poster girl for global warming hysteria, since she can change anything into ice.” Democrats, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, voted unanimously on a party-line vote, 52-28.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 444 honoring Jerry Lewis. Failed 56-24 in California Assembly, but passed 577-0 in French National Assembly.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 903 honoring Ronald Reagan. GOP members unanimously fell in behind this measure, as did all Assembly Democrats, who cited Reagan as someone “we would kill for compared to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.” Passed 80-0.