Darren Richardson

April 19, 2012

Say it ain’t so, Ted.

Just when it looked like the gonzo rocker was gaining the upper hand in the public percpetion battle over his “dead or in jail” comments regarding where he would be this time next year if President Obama is re-elected, a potentially image-changing interview from 1990 has resurfaced to cast an almost palpable stench over the Nuge’s tough guy image.

In an April 18 segment on “Young Turks,” anchor Cenk Uygur said that in a July 15, 1990, interview with the Detroit Free Press, Nugent claimed to have shunned personal hygiene and consumed junk food to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam.

According to Uygur, Nugent told the Free Press that he started going to the bathroom in his pants for several days before his draft board appointment so he would be rejected. He was.

It may be worth noting that Saddam Hussein had not yet ordered the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on July 15, 1990. Thus, Nugent was speaking the context of the post-Vietnam era of relative peace that began in the mid-1970s and lasted through the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations before being shattered by the first Gulf War.

Unfortunately, a Punditty Project call to the Detroit Free Press revealed that the newspaper does not have and has never had a morgue, so the best way to find the original interview is to go to a library with microfiche or microfilm history of the Detroit Free Press and find exactly what Ted Nugent said in that particular interview. Punditty may do just that if this controversy continues to heat up, but one would like to think that a major news organization with more time and money would understand the relevance and importance of taking that step rather than relying on excerpts that may or may not be taken out of context.

Did Nugent really go to such fecal extremes, or was he just trying to be “gonzo” in his approach to media relations in that 1990 interview? Whatever the answer, the Nuge has some explaining to do. Not so much to the Secret Service for his hyperbolic but completely non-threatening anti-Obama remarks (although it looks like he will get his chance), but to his fans who think of him as a lifelong he-man when in fact he may have been the textbook example of a dirty, longhaired, draft-dodging, anti-American hippie, literally full of sh*t.

President Carter pardoned the draft-dodgers, something he absolutely had to do in order to promote national healing in the aftermath of a foreign policy failure. But you can be sure that most of those who fled the country or dodged the draft didn’t resort to literally "making a stink" to do so. Nugent’s problem is not so much that he avoided Vietnam – Bill Clinton did the same thing and was elected president twice – but the utterly disgusting steps he allegedly took to do so.

If the 1990 interview proves to contain other material that will show that Nugent is being over-the-top, then the "Motor City Madman" may emerged unscathed. But if the allegations are true, Nugent may well spend the rest of his life wiping up the mess his Vietnam-era conduct is causing in 2012.

UPDATE, 4:43 PDT - Secret Service agents and Ted Nugent met earlier today in Oklahoma. According to both the Secret Service and Nugent, the issue "has been resolved." See full report here.

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Mike Huckabee defends Ted Nugent’s comments during radio interview with Nugent, mediaite.com, April 18, 2012

Cenk Uygur calls ‘coward’ Ted Nugent the weakest man in America, mediaite.com, April 19, 2012

Wannabe head-chopper Ted Nugent is actually ‘weakest man in America,’ Current.com, April 18, 2012

President Carter pardons draft dodgers, History.com (this day in history, Jan. 21)

Ted Nugent, draft dodger; Will Hannity keep defending him? News Hounds, Aug. 26, 2007

Ted Nugent: Call Him Chickenhawk, Rutland (Vt.) Herald, May 28, 2006

Additional sources and resources linked to in text.