Dana Watch: #DenialDana

Illustration by Bob Aul

National reporters who visit Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Tossed Salad Bar) often make mention of surfboards hanging on his Washington, D.C., office wall. The “Surfin’ Congressman” also posts photos on social media and his official website of himself in a wetsuit, riding the waves.

But as the 30-year congressman approaches yet another November election, fellow surfers are actively opposing him because of his stands on climate change (he denies it) and offshore oil drilling (he loves it).

Dana Rohrabacher is the Biggest Kook in Congress and Here’s Why He Needs to Be Replaced” is the title of an opinion piece by William E. Rinehart Jr. that was posted Feb. 28 on The Inertia (www.theinertia.com). Rinehart (a.k.a. “Albino Rhino”) is a waterman and self-described “positive and entrepreneurial activist who helps campaigns, early-stage startups and nonprofits win public support.” The Inertia is a surf, mountain and outdoor culture website that was founded in 2010, claims to reach 1.5 million readers monthly and boasts more than 2,000 contributors, including surfing icons Kelly Slater, Rob Machado and Laird Hamilton.

“Dana Rohrabacher is uniquely unqualified to represent any congressional district, let alone a coastal one that includes Huntington Beach,” argues Rinehart, who cites the House member’s goose-egg rating from the League of Conservation Voters. “To be clear, this isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing,’” Rinehart insists, “this is a ‘we don’t want the state of California to be underwater in 10 years’ thing.”

Rohrabacher is also a target of Rinehart’s political-action committee (PAC) Blue Uprising, which uses this quote by the congressman as ammunition: “Constituents may be interested to learn of the growing scientific consensus that global warming is not man made, if it is in fact even occurring.”

Counters Blue Uprising, “We believe his constituents will be interested to learn that their congressional member denies the scientific evidence of climate change.”

The PAC is raising $7,500 for a billboard it wants to put up in a heavily trafficked area of Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana. A mockup at BlueUprising.org shows a drawing of Rohrabacher in the lower-right corner with these words (and boldface) over him: “Hey OC, don’t drown in climate denial with Rohrabacher.” In the lower-left side of the billboard, it reads: “#DenialDana Paid for by BlueUprising.org.”

Crowdfunding website CrowdPac.com showed that as of Monday morning, nearly $2,000 had been raised for the first of four billboards Blue Uprising wants dotting Orange County.

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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