Washington • By now, there are few in the political world who have not yeti heard about what’s going on in the 5th Congressional District of Virginia.
The Republican candidate in the race, Denver Riggleman, was discovered to have posted images of "Bigfoot erotica" on Instagram, with the furry fellow's ample nether regions obscured. The candidate is also co-author of a 2006 book about Bigfoot hunting in which he describes "serious Bigfoot research" and includes an assertion that "Bigfoots like sex, too."
Shouldn't that be "Bigfeet"?
But you may not be aware of this: This is not the first time the 5th District has seen an election turn on erotica.
Exactly 10 years ago, in another race for the same seat, it was discovered that the incumbent, Republican Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., had an unwanted connection to "gay erotica." The name of Goode, a traditional values conservative, was in the closing credits of the erotic gay film "Eden's Curve," which featured an appearance by Goode's press secretary. Goode secured an earmark for the theater whose managing artistic director produced the film.
Thus do we have, in a single district, two snapshots in the devolution of the Republican Party into an exotic entity. Ten years ago: gay erotica. Now, in the Trump era, Bigfoot erotica.
Riggleman, who runs a distillery, is trying to sasquatch the story by saying it's a joke.
“I thought it was funny,” he told The Washington Post’s Ron Charles. With a laugh, he added, “I do not believe that Bigfoot is real. But I don’t want to alienate any Bigfoot voters.”
Indeed not! And Riggleman should not back down. He has happened upon a potentially winning message.
I say this with some authority because of my history with Bigfoot. As a cub reporter in 1992, acting on a tip, I spent a long, cold night stalking the beast with a leading Bigfoot hunter near Cleveland. Years later, when CBS' Bob Schieffer and I discovered our mutual (platonic) interest in the creature, I bought him a true-to-life yeti statue.
So it is my informed opinion that Republicans should take a page from Teddy Roosevelt, who in 1912 bolted the Republican Party to create the Bull Moose Party. Now that Trump has led his partisans to abandon most of what the Republican Party stood for two years ago, and has led them into a mythical land of alternative facts, they ought to rename the entity they've created: the Bigfoot Party.
For a party slogan, I suggest a twist on Robert F. Kennedy's famous paraphrasing of George Bernard Shaw: There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that are not, and say, yes they are!
If Thomas Nast were alive, he might draw the party animal as a 6-foot-3 lumbering creature with a flowing orange mane, a beast uncivilized but cunning.
I've taken the first stab at a platform for the nascent Bigfoot Party:
Whereas U.S. intelligence says Pyongyang is proceeding with new missile development and uranium enrichment, and whereas we say North Korea is "no longer a nuclear threat";
Whereas the Constitution says Congress shall have the power to levy taxes, and whereas we say the president can cut capital gains taxes by fiat;
Whereas Republican leaders say a government shutdown would be harmful, and whereas we say we "would be willing to 'shut down' government";
Whereas a White House official said "the wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan," and whereas we tell the billionaire Koch brothers that the cut "made … them richer";
Whereas we have said hundreds of times that there was "no collusion" with Russia, and whereas we also feel compelled to assert that "collusion is not a crime";
Whereas we believe that Iran should be threatened, in all caps, with "CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE," and whereas we will be happy to talk to them "anytime they want" without precondition;
Whereas we believe Montenegro has "very aggressive people" poised to start World War III, and whereas we believe the European Union, not Russia, is our enemy;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that we also believe that Bigfoot exists and that he is, in all likelihood, a sexy beast. Be it further resolved that none of the foregoing shall be construed to deny the existence of any other creature, including but not limited to: unicorns, dragons, mermaids, werewolves, fairies (also pixies), centaurs, griffins, ghouls, gnomes, trolls, leprechauns and the Loch Ness Monster.
The Bigfoot Party is a big tent.
Dana Milbank is a Washington Post columnist. He sketches the foolish, the fallacious and the felonious in politics. Twitter, @Milbank