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Racist Hunting Clubs

The flap over the racist name of the hunting lodge that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s family leased is not the first time hunting and racism have conspired to tar a politician.

In 2007, a New York Daily News photographer spotted a Confederate flag hanging inside the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club garage while Vice President Dick Cheney was happily blasting away at its pheasants, ducks or Hungarian partridges. (Management wouldn’t say which he was shooting.)

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the New York civil rights leader who recently became an MSNBC host, demanded that Cheney “leave immediately, denounce the club and apologize for going to a club that represents lynching, hate and murder to black people.” Cheney did none of the suggestions though his spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell, said neither Cheney nor anyone on his staff saw such a flag at the hunt club.

Many remember Cheney’s 2006 Texas hunting mishap in which he shot 78-year-old attorney Harry Whittington in the face instead of a quail, but fewer know about his hunting when he hits his targets.

A fan of canned, put-and-take hunting, Cheney sank 70 pheasants (his hunting party sank 417) and an undisclosed number of ducks during a 2003 trip to Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, PA. And the next year, on the day of the 2004 presidential election, the Veep treated himself to a victory pheasant hunt in South Dakota–that wasn’t.

Cheney was on his way to Pierre, SD on Air Force One–thank you taxpayers- where a motorcade sped him to an unnamed Gettysburg area hunting lodge, even before Sen. John Kerry’s concession speech. But, Cheney’s defibrillator couldn’t keep up with the thrill kills and he had to be rushed to George Washington Medical Center in Washington DC where he was hospitalized for shortness of breath. (Late night comics say he had a reserved parking space at the ER.)

“Sorry we ruined your Saturday,” Lynne Cheney told reporters, who probably also had reserved parking spaces. The excursion cost local law enforcement officials $32,000 to protect Cheney’s motorcade–which included 15 sport utility vehicles and an ambulance, no jokes please–divert school buses and guard his hotel, reported local papers.

In addition to a Confederate flag the exclusive club, which costs $150,000 a year to join, features a male-only clubhouse, said published reports. Racism, sexism, cruelty to animals, taxpayer abuse–Cheney’s trip had something to offend everyone.

Of course many in Texas are defending the name of Perry’s hunting lodge as local vernacular, perhaps like the “coonass power” former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards used to get elected, which refered to Cajuns. Texans also point out the lodge is now owned by a charity called the Hendrick Home for Children. Sweet.

But ignore the lodge’s name and there is still a racism cloud over Perry’s head thanks to his hunting body and “good friend,” Ted Nugent, who has been banned from concerts because of his Tourette-like use of the n-work.

Nugent was a featured performer at Perry’s black-tie re-inauguration gala in 2007 reports the Daily Beast’s Wayne Barrett. “He appeared as the final act using machine guns as props, wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag and shouting what the Associated Press called ‘offensive remarks about non-English speakers.'” Oops.

Nugent’s spectacle also had something to offend everyone and a Perry spokesman disavowed it by saying the governor, “didn’t put any stipulation of what he would play.” Maybe Nugent was sponsored by the Hendrick Home for Children too.

Martha Rosenberg’s first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, will be published by Prometheus Books in 2012.

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Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

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