Dana Watch: Clone Wars

Illustration by Bob Aul

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Pearl Necklace) is the most endangered “Trump clone” in Congress.

That’s the opinion of Mother Jones magazine’s Dan Spinelli, who on Aug. 9 unveiled a “guide to the Trumpiest lawmakers in Washington—and how likely they are to lose.”

According to the San Francisco-based magazine’s publishers, “Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.” Spinelli, an editorial fellow in Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau who covers environmental policy and national politics, rates 13 members of the House by “how likely they are to be swept away” in the Nov. 6 general election, “in (rough) order from least vulnerable to most endangered.”

Which brings us to the excretion of Spinelli’s numero uno.

1. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)

Who is he? A 15-term congressman from California, former speechwriter to former President Ronald Reagan, and reportedly “so valuable” to Russian intelligence that the Kremlin gave him a code name. Rohrabacher’s passionate defenses of Russia were so widely known that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) once said privately, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” (After a recording of the comment surfaced, a McCarthy spokesman said it was a joke.)

Does it concern him that he is seen as so close to Russia? Apparently not. Just last week, Rohrabacher told Mother Jones that anyone in “this town” would have done what Donald Trump, Jr. did—that is, accept a meeting with a Russian emissary promising dirt on a political opponent. Despite his past history as an ardent cold warrior, Rohrabacher has used his recent tenure as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats to trumpet his pro-Russia views.

What else is he known for? Rohrabacher has used his perch on the House science committee to describe global warming as a “fraud.” In a state where wildfires have become a routine, destructive occurrence in the summer, Rohrabacher has pushed back on the connection between worsening fires and climate change. “This exemplifies the tactics—the scare tactics—of those who’ve been pushing this global warming fraud on us,” he said during a spate of fires in August 2013. “They’ll take something that is dramatic, like a fire, and try and use that, or a tornado, or a hurricane, and say, ‘See, people are being hurt.’”

Will he be reelected? Once considered to be in a safely Republican district, Rohrabacher’s seat is now listed as a “toss-up” by the Cook Political Report. A July Monmouth University poll found Democratic challenger Harley Rouda with a slight edge over the longtime congressman.

Find the full list here.

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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