Until he got bumped off by a diaper-wearing astronaut and the feuding would-be fathers of Anna Nicole Smith's baby, defrocked New Life Church founder Ted Haggard was all over the late-night gabfests.
After it was reported last week that Haggard, who'd undergone intensive counseling after male escort Mike Jones revealed that he'd had an ongoing massage-and-meth arrangement with the evangelical leader, was now heading off to parts unknown to pursue an online master's in psychology, Conan O'Brien offered this: "Ted Haggard, the minister who was caught with a gay prostitute, has just finished a three-week sex-addiction program. He says he is now 'completely heterosexual.' Haggard says he will prove he is completely heterosexual by having sex only with men who are completely heterosexual."
Jon Stewart took note, too: "I have some sad news for the gays, as they're referred to. Unfortunately, they have lost one of their own this evening: Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher, who, as you know, was caught doing meth and f****** dudes.... People say how did they turn this clearly gay man into a heterosexual? It's very simple. You know when you were a kid and your father caught you smoking -- then he decided to make you smoke a carton? Ted's been a busy boy."
And the yuk didn't stop there. "Ted Haggard...has emerged from three weeks of gay rehab and says he is no longer gay," Jay Leno observed. "At least, that's what he told his roommate in rehab, Isaiah Washington. He had a three-year relationship with a male prostitute, and after three weeks of therapy, you're not gay anymore? I mean, what kind of Clockwork Orange treatment are they using on that guy? What, do they give him electroshock while playing Broadway musicals?"
A couple of days later, Leno had another theory: "After three weeks of therapy and counseling, Reverend Ted Haggard announced he's now completely heterosexual. To prove it, he ate a Snickers bar while pulling out his chest hair."
By then, Off Limits had already made the connection between that Super Bowl ad and Haggard's cure (www.westword.com/blogs) and had contacted Jones, who's got only a few days left to finish his book on how he outed Haggard. Could three weeks of therapy make his most famous (as far as we know) client "completely heterosexual?" "No way," Jones said.
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Okay, so how about pulling his chest hair? Did Haggard have any? "Some," Jones allowed. "There was something he used to do to it before he'd come to see me." To find out what, you'll have to wait for the book.
But you don't have to wait to read about the impact of Jones's revelation on last November's election. On his website (www.ciruli.com), Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli analyzes the failure of the gay-partnership initiative, noting that when the Haggard story broke the week before the vote, "news events overwhelmed the campaign message. Gay rights proponents had attempted to frame the issue as basic economic and human rights, such as health insurance, hospital visitation and inheritance. Instead, the dominant image voters saw in the final days were negative stereotypes of the gay lifestyle: promiscuity, drug usage and a damaged family."
And in the March Atlantic, former Westword contributor Josh Green weighs in with "They Won't Know What Hit Them," which details Tim Gill's stealth mission to stop the Rick Santorums of tomorrow before they get started by funding their opponents. That mission was largely successful last fall, although "the Haggard episode...created...the worst possible environment in which to put gay-rights issues on the ballot. On Election Day, the initiative failed, 53-47."
The butt stops here: Representative Tom Tancredo -- or "Tancreeedo," as Conan O'Brien pronounced it -- also served as a pundit's punching bag. "Republican congressman Tom Tancredo has announced he's forming a presidential exploratory committee," O'Brien reported. "The committee won't be paid for their work, but they will get some sweet, high-paying jobs in the Tancredo administration."