I'm going to share my dirty little secret: I kind of miss Rick Santorum.
Sure, he's a nerdy bully who can froth at the mouth for hours about the evils of homosexuality and the many ways in which our God-fearing nation will collapse in the face of some nicely decorated gay wedding ceremonies. He's a religious fanatic who thinks the only thing to be shoved down people's throats is his own particular version of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. He's the smiling face of bigotry in a Sears outfit.
In short, he's a dream come true for columnists suffering a combination of deadline and writer's block. For much of 2012, if you were at a loss for words in the face of the Republican primary that slouched roughly across America, you could always use a little Santorum. Between his crazy beliefs and the fecal-baggage of the famed Santorum meme, writer's block evaporated in the bliss of an easily met word count.
It's not that he's completely disappeared. Santorum certainly still bubbles around the fringes — see, it's impossible not to enjoy writing this stuff — but he's become a bit of a voice in the wilderness, a wannabe Cassandra foretelling the doom of the Republican Party should it succeed in its efforts to stop being a dick to homosexuals and brown people. But being tagged as a two-time loser means that even Media Matters will soon tire of paying attention and even I will have to take the pledge to clean away Santorum from our community's conversation.
But, as they say, when God closes a door he opens a third-floor window, so we now have Virginia's attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who's pretty much Rick Santorum with a better haberdasher. For someone like me who lives in the urban/suburban, multicultural mixing bowl of Northern Virginia where I hear at least four different languages spoken each day and can't drive anywhere without running across a car or house with an equality sign on it, the idea that someone as Neanderthalish as Cuccinelli would be a serious contender for governor is a little mind-blowing.
Cuccinelli has already achieved notoriety for wanting to force Virginia's state universities to stop protecting their LGBT employees from discrimination and fighting to block LGBT protections in the juvenile justice system; for mounting a nuisance legal campaign against a scientist who has done significant work on climate change, because that's apparently what Republican attorneys general do these days; and for mounting a ferocious attack on abortion rights in the state. His recent quixotic court quest to keep Virginia's antiquated (and rather notably unconstitutional) sodomy law on the books is not surprising, but rather simply a sign of where the Cooch intends to go if he by some accident of fate ends up residing in the governor's mansion.
So Cuccinelli is a frothing hater of all things LGBT; a climate-change denier who has no problem using the powers of the state to pursue his flat-earth agenda; a proponent of freedom from the tyranny of government health care, except in the case of women's vaginas, which he believes should be open to constant inspection by the state; and a bully who tries to impose his personal religious beliefs on those who don't share them.
And his nickname is ''Cooch.''
If it talks like Santorum and walks like Santorum, then it's probably the Cooch. The only thing stifling my laughter is that Cuccinelli has a shot at winning in a state that, politically speaking, is like the result of Kentucky and Massachusetts hooking up and having a baby. That'll be no joke for those of us living here.
Sean Bugg is the co-publisher of Metro Weekly. He can be reached at sbugg@MetroWeekly.com and followed on Twitter at @seanbugg.