Roy Moore, Robert Bentley, Mike Hubbard and the Alabamafication of America

By Kyle Whitmire 

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore administers the oath of office to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. A year later, both are in hot water.

Dear America,

Here’s where Alabama currently stands: Our governor is under investigation. Our House speaker is under indictment. Our chief justice is suspended from duty and awaiting trial, again. We’re one of the poorest states in the country, living off the federal dole, and we sit at or near the bottom of most empirical rankings of quality of life. Our leadership is non-existent and our government is on the brink of collapse.

But don’t think for a minute that you’re better than us. Donald Trump is the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, and you put him there. You’re closer to Alabama than you care to think.

Maybe you still think this Trump thing is a joke. I am here to assure you it is not.

Perhaps you think voters cannot be so politically masochistic. You are wrong.

Don’t hope for a minute that those behind the scenes — you know, the Establishment — can fix this game. It is beyond their control.

The Worst Case Scenario is not a possibility. It is a probability.

I have seen it. The saying “stuck on stupid” does not begin to explain our predicament. This is more like doing a handstand in a tar pit.

And this Thing that has corrupted my state, robbed us of common sense, poisoned our decency, and made us loathe our neighbors — it is contagious and you are at risk.

Call it the Alabamafication of America.

Let me share with you what it has done to us.

Six years ago we elected Robert Bentley governor because most voters were under the impression that, despite lacking other qualifications for the job, he might be a good man. He was so gracious that he promised not to draw a paycheck unless Alabamians reached virtual full employment. Also, he had once been Bear Bryant’s dermatologist.

Since then he has abandoned all sense — and his wife of 50 years.

There were lots of warning signs, first of which was, on inauguration day, he told a congregation in Montgomery that if you aren’t Christian you couldn’t be his spiritual brother or sister. During six years in office, that piety did not prevent him from groping a senior political advisor and later talking dirty to her on the phone while his soon-to-be-ex-wife recorded the conversation.

And that’s just the beginning of his troubles. He’s now under investigation by the Alabama Ethics Commission and a whole Alphabet Soup of federal agencies. He’s lost his family, his reputation and his home.

In the divorce settlement, however, he did get to keep the lawnmower.

Before Bentley, there was Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who stormed the Alabama Statehouse, deposing more than a century of Democratic control there. He pushed through what was, at the time, toughest-in-the-nation ethics laws and, according to prosecutors, broke them.

Not only is he accused of breaking the laws he passed, but since then he has argued in court that the laws he passed don’t apply to him because the laws he passed are unconstitutional.

A judge has rejected all of Hubbard’s pretrial motions and defense attorneys have promised to appeal. The Alabama Supreme Court could hear those arguments, but if it does, one justice won’t be a part of it — Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

On Friday, the Judicial Inquiry Commission charged Moore with abusing his authority by directing Alabama probate judges to disregard the United States Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex marriage is a right under the Constitution. That action means Moore is suspended from the bench and will face a trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary and possible removal from office.

For the second time.

Fifteen years ago he installed a washing-machine-sized monument to the Ten Commandments in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building. A federal judge ordered Moore to remove the granite block. He refused and the Court of the Judiciary removed him from office.

But here’s the most important thing to know about Moore: He autographs Bibles. He’ll put his signature on the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence like he wrote the things. And that granite monument of the Ten Commandments — at the base of the stone block was a little “C” with a circle around it, right by his name. That’s right, he copyrighted it.

Moore doesn’t only believe God’s coming back, but he thinks until then, the Almighty has given him power of attorney over his affairs.

The saddest thing is, this state has so much potential. In person — one-on-one — our people are decent and selfless. We make great music. We cook good food. We tell funny jokes. We love our children and would sacrifice everything for their futures.

But growing up in Alabama is like growing up in a broken home.

We expect better of others instead of demanding better of ourselves.

Rather than holding our elected officials to higher standards, we lower our expectations.

We can’t get over our insecurities, and we’re suckers for anyone who comes along saying we’re better than somebody else.

Maybe you think Alabama is a joke. I’m here to assure it’s not.

If you’re not careful, America, this could happen to you.