The movie has morphed into what at first looked like a mini-series but now clearly is a daytime drama series as never-ending as General Hospital.
But instead of Luke and Laura (yes I’m that old), on the soap opera As The Governor Turns we have series stars Governor Robert Bentley and his former advisor and dirty-talk consort Rebekah Caldwell Mason, along with a huge supporting cast, including Bentley’s former wife Dianne Bentley, indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard, former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier, former gadfly candidate and now actual elected office holder Jim Ziegler, ALEA Chief Ray Lewis, bodyguard turned cabinet member Stan Stabler, and an ensemble of legislators, current and former staffers, prosecutors, informants, reporters, and law enforcement officers, not to mention the FBI.
It’s a lot to keep track of, especially since the story moves back and forth between present time and flashbacks to 2014. Let me catch you up if you’ve missed the last few episodes. By the way, the best way to follow the show is at Alabama Political Reporter; if you rely on the decimated staff at AL.com you will miss a lot of scenes.
While Mike Hubbard’s trial date on the 23 felony ethics charges gets closer and closer, Governor Bentley is the target of a determined impeachment effort spearheaded by Rep. Ed Henry (R. Hartselle). Henry’s effort was aided by 23 representatives who signed renewed articles of impeachment, but it is far from clear that the house leadership, particularly Bentley crony Mike Hubbard, will allow the impeachment to proceed.
In the flashback scenes, we have reports that Governor Bentley’s behavior since just before his 2014 reelection has been questionable at best. The governor at one point was so panicked by his misplacement of his wallet he ordered then Chief of Protective Services Stan Stabler (now ALEA Secretary) to send a helicopter to retrieve the wallet from Bentley’s Tuscaloosa home and fetch it to Bentley at the governor’s beach house.
You have to wonder what was in that wallet that was so important that thousands of taxpayer dollars needed to be spent to retrieve it.
We learned just today from Bill Britt at APR that on election night in 2014, when the reelected governor would presumably be celebrating, he instead spent the entire night in a paranoiac fit over rumors that an audiotape containing evidence of his ongoing ickiness with Mason had been leaked by someone on the governor’s staff. Britt reports that several witnesses testified to being interrogated, on Bentley’s orders, by ALEA cops with sidearms, including one staffer who was tracked down a half hour away from Montgomery and accused of leaking the damning tapes. Some speculate the rumor was started by Mason herself so as to make the governor need her and be dependent on her.
The more I read about Rebekah Caldwell Mason the more I wonder just what kind of snakes live in her head.
Moving back to the present day, perennial pain-in-the-neck Jim Ziegler, who against all reason won state-wide election to the post of State Auditor, has filed charges against Bentley and Mason with the Alabama Ethics Commission, a body that has deteriorated into a rubber stamp for corrupt behavior. Not to be deterred, Ziegler found a provision in the Alabama Code that allows him to order witnesses to appear before him for questioning. He ordered Bentley to appear, Bentley didn’t show up, and now Ziegler wants to either hire a pro bono lawyer or start a GoFundMe so he can hire a lawyer to enforce Ziegler’s order in court.
APR reports that ethics, state, and federal investigators are intensifying their investigations of the Bentley/Mason grossness, particularly focusing on how Rebekah and Jon Mason were paid by the state and whether Bentley used state resources to facilitate or cover up the affair. Investigators are also questioning witnesses about Stan Stabler’s actions after Governor Bentley punished ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier for refusing to lie to prosecutors by placing Collier on “medical leave.” Stabler reportedly fired several ALEA officers, transferred others, and shut down certain investigations relating to Alabama politicians.
And with all of these investigations swirling around, apparently Bentley and Mason are continuing on their corrupt path, seeking to benefit from the ridiculous $800 million prison-building plan I wrote about yesterday. Some close to the situation say that if the prison plan goes through it will turn into an immediate target for law enforcement investigation.
The Alabama people are a victim in this drama as much as Dianne Bentley and all the flunkies who are probably going to jail for helping Bentley and Mason cover up their affair. Bentley is now politically impotent (stop it!), and as a result cannot do anything about the GOP caucus in the legislature gutting Medicaid to the point where the Alabama healthcare system is in real danger of collapse.
We all lose on this show.
I think I’m done binge-watching for now. At this point I’d rather watch an infomercial.