That the founder of a popular metal band would embrace the GOP’s most passionate religious ideologue might seem shocking. But looking over Mustaine’s conspiratorial obsession with politics and his personal religious journey, it’s no surprise. Plus, see photos of other GOP celebrity endorsements.
On Wednesday, Dave Mustaine, a former Metallica guitarist who founded the heavy-metal band Megadeth, seemed to join a side that has historically been a mortal foe of his kind: the Christian right. In an interview with Music Radar, Mustaine expressed support for the GOP’s resident religious ideologue, Rick Santorum, saying he was impressed that Santorum left the trail to be with his sick daughter and kept his distance from the Mitt-Newt character savagery.
Considering the kinds of things conservative Christians had to say about hard music in the 1980s and '90s, it might seem like Mustaine, 50, is trying to love his enemies. Religious antipathy toward rock music goes all the way back to the Beatles and beyond, but the attacks on Mustaine’s genre were particularly passionate. Conservative Christian books and magazines overflowed with warnings to parents about the dangerous influence of heavy metal, citing everything from satanic symbols on album covers to subliminal messages to the supposedly demonic effects of the “rock beat.” Metallica and Marilyn Manson were among the leading cultural villains, tempting the youth of America toward subversive movements like the game Magic: The Gatheringand Wiccanism.
But if they’d listened a little more closely, they might have heard people like Mustaine articulating a message—though admittedly a version decked out in the F word, black leather, and faux-Satanism—not altogether unlike their own cultural alarmism. In a 1988 interview in the British music newspaper Sounds, Mustaine said, “It says in the Bible that men should not lay with men like they lay with women. I mean I don’t wanna f--k up and not go to heaven.” In the same interview, he added some thoughts on immigration that seem ripped from a 2012 GOP debate transcript. "If I were president of the United States, I'd build a great wall along the Mexican border and not let anybody in.” He also dished to conspiracy theorist and radio personality Alex Jones about the “new world order,” a pervasive scare trope of '90s evangelical entertainment, including the Left Behind series.
Mustaine’s socially conservative values, however, weren’t doing much for his own life at the time. His rocky two-year stint in Metallica in the early '80s ended in large part over his raging alcoholism and drug use. Some years later, he turned to Christianityafter growing discontent with Alcoholics Anonymous. In a 2007 interview with Decibelmagazine, Mustaine explained: “It's supposed to be founded in believing in God, but say the word God in an AA meeting and most people's asses grow together. So I kinda just went to the source … I figured I'd go direct to God, cut out the middleman, and not have to pay my dollar every week.”
Today, Mustaine has swung even further into line with the religious right. He can hardly get through an interview without going on about how bad 2012 will be for the country.
In the mid-2000s, the now-born-again Mustaine belatedly discovered the '90s religious right’s passion for boycotts. He threatened to pull Megadeth out of a 2005 festival that featured other metal bands named Rotting Christ and Dissection over their professed Satanism. “I’ve never believed in singing about Satan and thinking he's cool, because he's not,” he told Decibel. “As far as me playing with bands like that, I started thinking, ‘You know what, Dave? You're a headliner. If you don't wanna play with people that make you uncomfortable, you don't have to.’ Especially if they're singing about the confessed enemy of someone you believe in. I mean, what idiot gets onstage with their confessed enemy?’ ”
Today, Mustaine has swung even further into line with the religious right and its latest iteration, the Tea Party. Obama is “the most divisive president we’ve ever had.” Mustaine can hardly get through an interview without going on about how bad 2012 will be for the country. “Given our choices for president, I think next year is going to be just terrible,” he said in December. “Everything is pretty s--tty right now, with the eradication of the middle class, and we've got an attorney general who won't come clean about the [ATF's Operation] Fast and Furious stuff. I think that we're headed for a lot of trouble. We've got an incredible debt, which is just continuing to get higher and higher. We need jobs right now, man. We don't need any more Washington deals, we need jobs.”
He’s even down with Rick Perry’s notion that President Obama is waging a “war on religion,” a notion that has now been adopted and even intensified by the remaining candidates. “It's pretty clear that they're taking prayer out of school. It's been happening for a very long time. The very first schoolbook that was written had God all over it. I collect books and I have some really, really old schoolbooks, and God is mentioned on every single page. They're taking God out of the schools to dumb us down.”
So despite the flowing yellow mane, the profanity, and the decades in a grungy subculture that contrasts sharply with the sweater-vest family values embodied by Rick Santorum, his latest endorsement is not much of a turn for Mustaine at all. But Santorum should think twice before inviting Mustaine onstage to give his endorsement publicly. You never know if the frontman might pick that moment to open up to Santorum’s Catholic base about the well-documented fact that “the first corporation in the world was the Catholic church.”
In a bombshell report, a Mexican immigrant alleges a gay love affair with an Arizona immigration-hawk sheriff and Romney campaign co-chair. Terry Greene Sterling reports.
Known only as “Jose,” a Mexican immigrant has outed a famous Arizona immigration-hawk sheriff, CPAC speaker, and congressional candidate who rose to conservative stardom after a cameo appearance in John McCain’s famous “Dang Fence” campaign ad. In an explosive story published in the Phoenix New Times, Jose claims that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's lawyer threatened him with deportation if he spilled the beans about their alleged love affair.
Following the report, Babeu hastily called a press conference on Saturday during which he announced, “I’m gay." He admitted having a “personal relationship” with Jose but said “at no time” did he or anyone who worked for him threaten Jose with deportation.
Babeu, 43, a Mitt Romney supporter, said that in light of his “coming out” he “chose” to step down as a co-chairman of the Republican presidential candidate's campaign. Surrounded by supportive deputies, Babeu said the Republican Party had a big tent, and he would continue actively campaigning for an Arizona congressional seat.
“This is my private life,” he said, “and now it’s out for the world to see ... The measure of who I am is how I’m handling this today.”
Jose told the Phoenix New Times that he and the sheriff had been romantically involved for several years. When the relationship ended, Jose told the newspaper, Babeu’s lawyer threatened Jose with deportation if he revealed the affair.
The story included a photo, allegedly of Babeu with his hand in Jose’s shirt. The newspaper also published a screen shot from a gay dating website showing an Anthony Weiner–style bathroom self-portrait, allegedly of Babeu, describing himself as “one good guy looking for another” who is HIV negative and seeks safe one-on-one sex. At the press conference, Babeu didn’t deny the ad and said that unlike Weiner, he wasn’t married and didn’t “lie” about the photo.
Babeu and his lawyer, Chris DeRose, told The Arizona Republic that Jose was a campaign volunteer for Babeu and had improperly accessed Babeu’s campaign website. As a result, DeRose sent Jose a cease-and-desist order in September. DeRose denied he threatened to deport Jose.
Jose was in charge of Babeu’s social-media sites, according to Babeu, and he began posting “uncomplimentary” information on those sites. That prompted the cease-and-desist order, Babeu said.
As Arizona reached the height of illegal-immigration hysteria in 2010, Babeu made acameo appearance on John McCain’s desperate Senate campaign video imploring the president to build the “dang fence," referring to a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. Though illegal immigration in Arizona declined for six straight years and FBI statistics deemed border cities safe, Babeu remained a strong illegal-immigration hawk.
Babeu served for 20 years in the National Guard and was once a headmaster of a Massachusetts school for boys. The Arizona Daily Starreported that as a boy Babeu had been molested by a Catholic priest. He became sheriff of Pinal County, on the east side of the Phoenix metro area, in 2009. He is a staunch ally of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Babeu admitted having a “personal relationship” with Jose but said “at no time” did he or anyone who worked for him threaten Jose with deportation.
In January, he announced his run for Congress and recently spoke at a CPAC convention, painting himself as a “first responder” to the immigration crisis
Babeu was criticized for appearing on a white-supremacist radio show and was embarrassed when one of his deputies claimed to have been shot by pistol-packing narcos while on duty. The wound was widely believed to have been self-inflicted, no narcos were ever found, and the deputy was fired.
On Saturday, Babeu expressed relief at having come out but repeatedly said his personal life was his own business.
“I’m not married, I’m a single guy, I don’t have a fake girlfriend,” he said. “I haven’t seen women for a long time on a romantic basis.”
He also said countless women had tried to date and marry him, but he is “off the market.”