Tea Party duo split over Carl Bruning, unite over Rachel Maddow and badass fife & drum

Yep, it's another cable news moment that's all but indistinguishable from a bit on The Daily Show.

This one comes courtesy of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who this week played host to John Weins and Mel Hilgenberg, a fife and drum duo called the Liberty Leaders who were a popular fixture at Northern Colorado Tea Party and 9.12 Project events until they split over support for different Larimer County Sheriff candidates, as seen in not one but two amusingly awkward clips below.

The Larimer County sheriff's race is unusual, to say the least, as we noted back in July, when candidate for "Constitutional Sheriff" Carl Bruning demanded that outgoing sheriff Jim Alderden, who supports Justin Smith for the post, investigate an online Facebook critic saying true things about him, but in a mean way.

Unfortunately, Maddow didn't take this wacky angle on the story. Indeed, she didn't seem much interested in why Weins backs Bruning and Hilgenberg supports Smith. Instead, she wanted to use the pair as an example of Tea Partiers' alleged unwillingness to compromise values for political expediency -- a doomed mission that flamed out even faster because no one could quite figure out the timing of the interview's satellite delay.

Fortunately, though, the lengthy bit's clumsiness, exacerbated by Maddow's attempts to shower Weins and Hilgenberg with somewhat strained warmth rather than snickering at their weirdness, makes up in hilarity what it lacks in ideological incisiveness.

The first video below is the interview itself. The second finds the Liberty Leaders playing together again, like Dean and Jerry in tri-cornered hats.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts