The Myth of Johnny Maverick:
Johnny Maverick was a cowboy, they say, one of the last in the Old West, in a land where towns like Tombstone have names that echo off canyons, Grand and small. They say Johnny Maverick didn't have any loyalties to the gangs that roamed and rustled, that he only cared about his ranch, and the people abided and admired Johnny Maverick, who, the story goes, always paid his debts on time, who was a tough but fair bargainer when it came time to sell stock, who was unafraid to stand up to sheriffs or outlaws. Whether it was true or not, didn't matter. The story was enough to make the man a legend. Thing is, though, like every cowboy story, what's left out is the shit, the smell of shit, the piles of shit that are everywhere, the way in which, if you meet a real cowboy, the decadent odor of shit hits you because, no matter how hard you scrub, you can't scrub away all the horse and bullshit that a cowboy lives in every day of his life. It doesn't mean a man ain't a tough motherfuckin' cowpoke. But you gotta accept the heaps of shit if you wanna accept the man instead of the myth.

Let's remember that nearly every one of John McCain's supposed "maverick" stands against other Republicans has ended in capitulation on principle and action. For, truly, it was the allegedly revolutionary and long-fought-for McCain-Feingold Act on campaign finance reform that originally brought him the deep ire of the ultra-nutzoid right because pro-life groups were afeared of the soft money ban. The final bill, though, was a fuckin' sieve with big check-sized holes, a half-assed attempt to say the Congress tried something to remove the influence of cash on elections, when, in essence, it was at best a literal passing of the buck.

And on McCain's much flaunted forcing of a revision of the Military Commissions Act? One that used his scar-reveling prestige as a victim of torture back in 'Nam in order to get the Bush Administration to agree to a bill that purportedly outlawed torture? Well, shit, when it comes to McCain and Bush administration on torture, it's kind of like that twisted film The Night Porter, where a former female concentration camp survivor falls back into a perverse sexual relationship with the Nazi who tortured and assaulted her. To watch McCain proclaim triumph on a bill that pretty much guarantees the CIA can torture with impunity, to see him vote for Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, hell, to see him stand with the President at all, is like watching McCain beg to have his legs broken again and again because it's the only way he can feel.

So it was that McCain appeared on This Week With George Stephanopoulos's Hair yesterday and proclaimed that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and the issue of abortion returned to the states. Heavens to betsy, some declared, that certainly is different than something he said in 1999. See, in an interview then, McCain said he did not wish Roe to be repealed because it would harm women. Sweet merciful flip-flop, no? Except that McCain crawfished on the issue almost immediately after. A McCain spokesman said right after the interview came out that Johnny Maverick "has a 17-year voting record of supporting efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade." And by January 2000, he himself was saying that Roe should be overturned, with exceptions for the usual stuff.

Johnny Maverick got a 0% rating from the ACLU in 2002 and an 83% from the Christian Coalition in 2003. He is, right down the fuckin' line, a hardcore conservative who just seems a little more rational than Sam Brownback or a little less creepily evil (just a little) than Dick Cheney. So, like, seriously, can we all just stop acting surprised when intensely conservative John McCain says something intensely conservative? It's like, say, you're a lesbian who really wants to fuck this female co-worker, but she keeps saying that she's straight. And then, one night, at an office party, she has a little to drink and starts to talk about how she experimented with chicks back in college. Goddamn, how wet and horny it gets you to think that you can bring her back to the clit-licker fold. But, wait, is she leaving with the guy from accounts receivable?

And, as Cokie Roberts said this morning on NPR, his call for a pissant 20,000 extra troops in Iraq is a total political calculation, like virtually everything else McCain is saying these days. It's a way for him to say, when Iraq finally goes up in flames and we get the fuck out of there, that if everyone had listened to his worthless idea, we'd've won.

Yeah, McCain's done some badass stuff in his life. But ask any real maverick cowboy: it's hard to love a man who smells like shit.