Rep. Darrell Issa, the ultra-conservative Republican congressman from California who will lead the House’s investigations of the Obama administration, has pledged to do whatever he can to obstruct, distract or embarrass the President, because he can. Darrell Issa is the same multi-millionaire politician who bankrolled the successful effort to recall former California governor Gray Davis back in 2003. Sadly for the un-charismatic Issa, who spent a cool million on the recall campaign, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in and cock-blocked him. Cold.
Although it was obvious to everyone that Schwarzenegger had caused Issa to drop out of the race, Issa nevertheless strenuously (and unconvincingly) denied this while ceding his dream to become the governor to the former body builder and movie star. At the press conference announcing his decision to withdraw, the foolish looking Issa cried like a little girl. It’s the kind of appearance that’s hard to live down in the age of YouTube (see below!)
Californians have long known of Darrell Issa’s questionable past. When he first ran for office in 1997, there were reports of things like Issa firing someone with a gun, multiple accusations of car theft and allegations that he burned down his business after upping his insurance premiums. Issa denied the allegation of arson and blamed the thefts on his brother who served time in jail while Issa went on to make millions (he’s the richest man in Congress, worth $250 million) from “The Viper” car alarm. (Sweet irony, huh? It’s even Issa’s own voice saying “Please step away from the car.”)
Now that he’s attained a higher rank of sleazy prominence as the new witchfinder general of the GOP, the rest of the country needs to take a closer look at Darrell Issa. This article from The New Yorker is a great place to start:
Issa didn’t even win the Republican primary. Although he outspent his main opponent, Matt Fong, the state treasurer, by some nine million dollars, he lost by five points. His campaign fell apart after a burst of investigative reporting raised serious questions about his honesty and his past. Many politicians have committed indiscretions in earlier years: maybe they had an affair or hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.
In May of 1998, Lance Williams, of the San Francisco Examiner, reported that Issa had not always received the “highest possible” ratings in the Army. In fact, at one point he “received unsatisfactory conduct and efficiency ratings and was transferred to a supply depot.” Williams also discovered that Issa didn’t provide security for Nixon at the 1971 World Series, because Nixon didn’t attend any of the games.
A member of Issa’s Army unit, Jay Bergey, told Williams that his most vivid recollection of the young Issa was that in December, 1971, Issa stole his car, a yellow Dodge Charger. “I confronted Issa,” Bergey said in 1998. “I got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically my car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike.”
What reason other than money—and lots and lots of it could explain how a creep like Darrell Issa came to have such an outsized influence over American politics?
Read more: Don’t Look Back: Darrell Issa, the congressman about to make life more difficult for President Obama, has had some troubles of his own (The New Yorker)
Top Ten Darrell Issa “Hall of Shame” Moments (Daily Kos)
Below, Darrell Issa crying his eyes out at a press conference in 2003 announcing that he was pulling out of the governor’s race after spending more than a million dollars of his own money (but it had nothing to do with Arnold, yeah right, you big crybaby) Tears start at approx. 7:30:
Thank you Michael Backes of Los Angeles, California!