To a lot of folks, I come across as cynical about the world we live in. I entirely resent that remark, as I still am hopeful about a lot of things. I am, however, really jaded. I mean, another problematic movie? Meh. Wall Street bankers screwing the poor? Seen it. Companies polluting the environment? Got a drawer full of protest T-shirts. A lot of this stuff is just so commonplace these days I barely raise an eyebrow. Even when they find a conservative politician being a hypocrite it’s no big deal to me. Oh, they caught the anti-LGBT politician in an airport bathroom? Yawn. Soliciting minors for sex? Boring! Honestly, a scandalous conservative in the age of Trump has to really do something special to pique my interest. Well, who says you have to travel to experience new things? My own state of Oklahoma provided state Sen. Ralph Shortey, who was arrested in a Super8 motel with an underage boy!
Now, sure, we’ve had incidents like that before, but this one is just a perfect storm of cringe. Shortey has had a long, interesting history in Oklahoma politics for being a bit of an oddball. A few years ago, he actually introduced legislation to ban any foods in the state made with human fetuses. Yes, you read that right. Not medicine made with fetal stem cells; food. Like Soylent Green, or something — oh, sorry, I should have given a spoiler warning.
Apparently Donald Trump is not the first Republican to hear something on the news and completely misunderstand it. Which is kind of funny, because Shortey was the state chair for Trump’s election campaign and has even met with Donald Trump Jr. Shortey has also introduced legislation to allow Oklahomans to pretend to be anti-aircraft cannons and shoot down drones, as if this state needed any extra reasons to randomly fire off guns into the air. You should also know that Shortey voted for Oklahoma’s last attempt at a bathroom bill targeting transgender people. Throw in his work on trying to ban Sharia law, requiring birth certificates from presidential candidates, and banning illegal immigrants, and you’ve got a great little brew going — but I’ve saved the best for last.
Last November, in what may surprise some of you, Oklahomans actually passed a state ballot measure to reduce many drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor and to increase funding for drug rehabilitation. Hey, what can I say? Even in red states like Oklahoma we’re tired of the "war on drugs." Well, Shortey felt that Oklahomans didn’t know what was best for themselves and introduced legislation to overturn that vote and maintain many of the felony marijuana laws. What makes this so extra? When the police showed up at the hotel where Shortey and his underage escort were, they detected a very strong odor of the devil's weed, which according to the police report wasn’t found anywhere, but was probably flushed down the toilet. They did find lotion and condoms, so you know, at least they were practicing safe sex. Also found was the kid's Kindle with a pretty blatant conversation spelling out that Shortey was going to be paying for sex with the boy.
While the cops are still looking to charge Shortey with soliciting, the state legislature has stripped him of all his committee seats and taken away his office, parking space, and government laptop as well as other state property, and his intern, which is probably a good call on that last one. Also, Shortey can’t spend any state money on office supplies — even stamps. He still has his job, collects a salary, and can vote in the legislature, which only goes to show how hard it truly is to fire a government employee.
I’m not going to revel in schadenfreude too much because obviously Shortey — a married father of two children — has some personal issues to deal with, not to mention that the boy he solicited reportedly has drug abuse problems, which Shortey was obviously encouraging and exploiting in a lot of hypocritical ways. I am however going to joyfully recall a quote from one of my favorite comedians, Bill Hicks, about these types: “Anyone that far to the right is fuckin' hiding a deep dark secret.” In the day and age of a president who has bragged about sexual assault, allegedly ogled underage girls, is openly anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and racist, it’s going to take a lot to create a truly interesting scandal out of a hypocritical right-winger, and Ralph Shortey is the man who has not only taken on that challenge but answered it with a classically Oklahoman “Hold my beer.”
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.