Best Political Circus

The 2014 Idaho Republican gubernatorial debate

Staff Pick

"A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker and a regular guy walk into a bar..." That sounds like the setup to a joke, but it's true--except the bar part. Actually, the archetypes walked into the 2014 Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate, and it's hard to say if anyone was in on the joke. In May 2014, rancher Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, everyman Meridian Sen. Russ Fulcher, and perennial office seekers Harley "I Wish My Last Name Was Davidson" Brown and irascible old Walter Bayes squared off on Idaho Public Television for their one and only debate before the primary election. It made for must-see TV, with Brown--clad in biker leathers--delivering gems like the "cowboy, curmudgeon ..." line, as well as "I've got a Master's degree in raisin' hell" and "I'm about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punch bowl." With his enormous white beard, Bayes could have passed for Santa Claus if ol' St. Nick was an angry hermit, thundering about everything from the evils of abortion and wolves, to lands policy, homeschooling and radioactive contamination. Otter looked amused, but Fulcher didn't think any of it was funny, later calling the debate "a mockery of the Republican Party and of Idaho." Otter handily won the primary vote, while Brown's performance reportedly scored him a contract with an L.A.-based company hoping to produce a reality show in which he runs for president of the United States. No joke.

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