4/15/15 UPDATE: It’s 5 years later and all the haters were right. I have never worked since and live in a tent near the 405 freeway. Just kidding. Reposting for amusement sake. This is long, but informative. For a more humorous take, see videos at the end as well as the two follow-up blog posts linked at bottom. Oh, and a clarification on that “campaign” I was dropped from: It was not the “real person” campaigns I was a tag announcer on (they ran for over 2 years and helped buy my house before being retired). It was actually an internet campaign of 3 spots that ran for a few weeks with another talented VO guy. I didn’t lose out on a huge payday, but did enjoy tweaking nipples. And I did end up working for the GEICO advertising firm on other campaigns a year later.
Enjoy this anniversary walk down idiocy lane.
[NOTE: Four things need clarifying. 1) Please DO NOT call GEICO. If you read the blog carefully, you’ll see I hold no animosity toward them, only FreedomWorks. 2) Some readers seem to miss the fact that I did apologize for my words. Please read carefully. 3) I was NOT the gecko or the main vo tag announcer. That was a conflation by Matt Kibbe. 4) Comments have been closed because the server can’t handle it, man. Please go here to enjoy a debate: HuffingtonPost Article. We now return you to your originally scheduled blog post.]
I never wanted to be political in this blog. It was supposed to be about my life in the biz. But my biz life and personal life were recently slammed together by a political bully group.
I hate bullies. It’s a mentality that starts with children and doesn’t evolve much more in quality or nuance through the adult years. Yes, this is going to be a huge blog post, kids. Get your Cheetos out.
FreedomWorks encouraged Tea Baggers to get me fired from GEICO because I left a complaint on their voice mail. (Press Release)
Oh yeah, I’m serious. Read on…
Me. An actor and voiceover guy. Not famous (except in my mind). An American citizen. Impetuous. Likes long walks on the beach and nipple-twisting any idiots-in-power on occasion (but usually anonymously).
FreedomWorks. The conservative lobbying firm headed by the Ex-Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, which has been behind the Fox News sponsored tea bagging party movement that miraculously materialized the moment the Republican party lost the Presidential election on 11/4/08.
GEICO. A good insurance company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway that has hired me in the past.
Now, let’s follow the drama, shall we? The following blog is my opinion of what happened.
Prologue: The Rise of “Facts Averse” Tea Baggers
December 2007: Ron Paul supporters attempted to rent a blimp with “Google Ron Paul” on the side. It would fly to Washington, DC and then on to Boston, where they would dump tea bags into the Boston Harbor in a symbolic protest against the big-spending of…wait for it… Republicans! It failed due to lack of cash. But at least they knew their facts and where the blame should go.
February 2009: CNBC’s Rick Santelli proposed a Chicago Tea Party because he was ticked-off that distressed homeowners would be getting loan modifications (he’s all heart). Thus the new Angry “bring your guns” Tea Bagger Movement was stolen, er, born. And FreedomWorks Tom Gaithens helped organize the astroturf events. Since then, FreedomWorks has been the engine of the Tea Party, though they deny it — regardless of the facts.
Summer 2009: Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe aimed their angry mob at Health Care Reform.
Scene One: The Chaos
During the Health Care vote last month I was so upset by the slurs the Tea Party crowd angrily yelled at Barney Frank, et al, that I called FreedomWorks. (The last time I felt so compelled was when I saw Fred Phelps protesting an Iraqi soldier’s funeral with a “Thank God for IEDs” sign.)
During my impulsive call I:
- inquired as to their intelligence level
- wondered if they had a plan on how to spin the eventual news of one of their members turning violent and killing someone.
- left my phone number because I wanted someone to call me back and defend their Tea Party actions,
(The recording of my voicemail message can be heard in a special music video at the end of this blog.)
… Yeah, I know – STUPID! And certainly not constructive. But venting calmly with a twist of humor soothes my liberal soul. Plus, homophobia and racism are my Achilles heel. Unfortunately, in my haste, I used the phrase “mentally retarded” which, ultimately, drags me down to their level.
My first question was an unfortunate choice of words and I regret it. But my second question was the more pertinent one: How will they spin it when one of their members crosses the line and does something violent?
Now, my calling them, my choice of words, and leaving my number were all mistakes, and I accept responsibility for them.But what happened next was way beyond an appropriate response. It was downright sleazy, unethical and most likely illegal.
Scene Two: Matt Kibbe Gets His Freak On.
A week after the Health Care Reform bill passed, FreedomWorks errand boy Adam Brandon called me to verify my identity. I had already calmed down and couldn’t care less about debating their negative and insidious tactics.
Unbeknownst to me, Adam was recording the conversation (an illegal act depending upon which state he was calling from).
Then FreedomWorks researched my career.
Unfortunately, GEICO has been on their boycott list for pulling their ads from the Glenn Beck “I’m inciting sedition all the way to the bank” show last year. FreedomWorks discovered my connection with GEICO: I had been the announcer on their Celebrity campaign in 2007 and 2008. But they didn’t do anything for a few weeks…
Scene Three: When Teabaggers Attack
Then I posted on my FaceBook fan page that I had just recorded a new “Shocking News” campaign for GEICO.
The very next morning, Matt Kibbe (the president of FreedomWorks, not his errand boy) submitted a post to the conservative hate-blog-ring:
- deliberately conflating me with the “voice of GEICO”
- publishing my private voicemail message (an invasion of privacy)
- publishing the (possibly illegal) recording of their follow-up call
- included a badly photoshopped picture of the gecko… (seriously, their photoshop guy sucks.)
- published my home phone number
- published GEICO’s business line
- instructed readers to harass me and GEICO
Yup. You read that right, folks. This “Christian American” group published my home phone number and issued these glib instructions:
“Feel free to contact Lance. He was so kind to provide his number in the voicemail. Call his employer too… Let them know that you, in fact, are not a mentally retarded killer, but that you are now in the market for car insurance.”
I was inundated with calls and hang-ups. But they died after a day. GEICO may have received twice as much, but again, they died after a day.
However, GEICO made a quick corporate decision to drop me from the campaign ten hours after Matt Kibbe’s blog post appeared. Obviously not because of the magnitude of Matt Kibbe’s self-serving revenge campaign, as it was just a tempest in a teapot (pun intended), but because of the fear that has become synonymous with the Tea Bagger Party: The potential for the wackos of the party to get very loud and dangerous.
Finale: Washing Matt Kibbe’s Soul Out With Soap
I did not post my views in a large public forum. I did not publicly campaign against them. I left a calm (albeit impulsive) phone message ONCE. FreedomWorks responded with napalm.
It’s akin to me getting any one of the unblocked phone callers who harassed me fired from their jobs. I could try to do it, but an eye for an eye “leaves everyone blind”. Oh, and it’s kind of illegal… Tortious Interference, invasion of privacy and harassment. (If there are any lawyers out there who’d like to take this on pro bono, come and get it.)
Of course, Matt Kibbe could care less who I am. He just had a hard-on for the lizard and was more than happy to throw a stranger under the bus merely for some possible press… Yes, actions of an unethical opportunist. And of a writer bereft of any positive blog post ideas.
Mind you, I don’t blame GEICO. They shouldn’t have to take on an angry mob over an anonymous voiceover guy. Besides, I do just fine outside of my GEICO campaigns. I also know that there are other big corporations out there that aren’t intimidated by the Tea Party Telemarketers and I’ll be on another national campaign soon…unless, of course, FreedomWorks decides to start a Hollywood blacklist.
Study Guide: FreedomWorks As Anger Machine
So how does FreedomWorks achieve “lower taxes, less government and more freedom” by getting me dropped from a GEICO campaign? They don’t. It’s simply the politics of destruction.
Matt Kibbe, Dick Armey and FreedomWorks are just using their followers as attack dogs in their beltway battles. They are an anger machine hellbent on undermining the administration — if the administration happens to be Democratic. They, like Glenn Beck, are flirting heavily with sedition.
Remember, this is the same group that passed out a handbook to members on how to disrupt town hall meetings on Health Care, essentially derailing democratic discourse. This “Tea Party mentality” culminated in a Health Care Reform weekend marked by:
- Barney Frank being called a f****t.
- Rep. John Lewis being referred to as a n****r.
- Rep. Emanuel Cleaver being spat upon.
- A weekend that saw Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita vandalized.
- Rep. Tom Perriello’s home gas line to a propane tank being cut (his home address had been posted on a Tea Bagger’s FaceBook page).
- Death threats sent to Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patty Murray.
- Me calling FreedomWorks and tweaking their nipple.
A Dedication: Matt Kibbe Can Kiss My Pimply Ass
In the past few days, I have been advised to just let it all happen to me – not to respond because “these guys cannot be reasoned with – they only know anger, hatred and destruction”. I also hear folks in the media say we should just ignore them and they’ll go away.
But here’s the rub: a portion of those members do have legitimate complaints and should be heard. (Hell, even I’m for abolishing income tax and going with a progressive VAT.) These people shouldn’t be ignored…though I would argue they should find a better organization to represent them. Or at least speak up and object to their group’s radical majority.
Unfortunately, the radical majority is provoked to racial paranoia and mob mentality by unethical Washingtonian operatives like Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe. If we do not confront these kinds of groups, we risk letting a hate movement gain a dangerous level of influence in our country.
“…there’s this vast echo chamber, and [these provocative words] go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike…” – President Bill Clinton (April, 2010)
Personally, I have no tolerance for intolerance… Which is why I invite Matt Kibbe to kiss my pimply ass.
Coming Soon: Dick Armey’s Army of Dicks
I’m no pundit or political activist, obviously, so lets close this bloated blog post with some Darjeeling humor!
To celebrate my LOVE of ALL ethnicities, sexualities, genders; my belief in a woman’s right to choose, a gay/lesbian/transgender couple’s right to marry, an Atheists right to seek office; an impetuous actor/voice over guy’s right to leave a voicemail message – I give you my Tea Bagger Boogie Video, constructed from FreedomWorks followers who left me voice mails (though I will not identify anyone nor list their phone numbers – that would be kinda sleazy and illegal):
[UPDATE 5/18/10 1:00 am]
For those too tired to read another blog post in the Tea Bag Saga, we help you skip to the crowning video response to the media attention:
And the media appearances:
For a follow-up to these events, see the following posts:
Cleaning Up After the Circus
and the viral PSA video finale
Mea Culpa. A PSA For Tea Party Critics.
[UPDATE 4/21/10 6:00 pm]
A Response To Matt Kibbe 4/21/10 Follow-Up Post:
Matt Kibbe posted a response on his biggovernment blog where he essentially uses my same argument for calling them in the first place. He just couldn’t take another insulting phone call. However, he doesn’t explain the blacklisting tactic. He goes on to summarize:
Americans covet our freedom of speech. We have a sacred right, enshrined in the Constitution, to show up, protest and challenge government policies that are bad for America.
Matt, please explain to your followers how what you did to me furthers those goals. They deserve true leadership, not cynical Washingtonian manipulation.
By the way, Matt, I have heard from a tremendous amount of your followers and what they’ve said and written to me is far beyond the pale of what I did. However, I did get three emails from true Tea Party members. They disagreed with what I did, but found your actions reprehensible. I believe they represent the part of the Tea Party that needs to upend you and Dick Armey. Take back our nation? I think they need to take back their Tea Party.