Dear Dirty America


Chuck Colson & Hunter S Thompson On An Airplane

April 22
13:30 2012
Los Angeles

The “evil genius” of the Nixon administration has died. Of course, he wasn’t that much of a genius because he landed himself in jail, but the “evil” part might still be true. He was a master of dirty tricks, and would plant his own grandmother’s face in the mud to get Nixon reelected in ’72.

His name was Chuck Colson. He went to jail. But first he became a born-again Christian.

Hunter S Thompson, during one of his chaotic lectures at a university in the 70s, rambled on about sitting next to Colson on an airplane. Colson, Thompson said, told me I should be in prison for the rest of my life, and that’s where I’d end up if he had anything to say about it. Well, Thompson told the crowd, Colson ended up in prison, and I’m still here.

Colson also told Hunter he’d found Jesus. Well, Hunter told his audience, I haven’t found a need for Jesus…yet! But I’m going to keep him in my back pocket in case I do.

Because of the vicious verbal assault Thompson waged on Nixon, and since his writing was in Rolling Stone and had a wide audience, Colson probably hated the wacky (yet visionary) journalist with real passion. Thompson’s words, in the ’70s, really mattered. Hunter also told the story about how a person at a lunch buffet, or candidate meet-n-greet sometime in ’72 (the details are always sketchy when HST tells a story) asked him how many people read his writing. The person was clearly disturbed by Hunter’s alcoholism and stumbling about. So they were curious, how many people were reading this madman’s words? Hunter told the person, anywhere between 200,000 to a million. He was referring to Rolling Stone, of course, and their wide readership at that time.

Anyway, god bless Colson, and let his name never elude being juxtaposed with Hunter Thompson’s. Or Daniel Ellsberg’s. Ellsberg was the recipient of a lot of “dirty tricks” by Colson, and Colson never personally apologized to Ellsberg:

Ellsberg said he still believes that Colson’s guilty plea was not a matter of contrition so much as an effort to head off even more serious allegations that Colson had sought to hire thugs to administer a beating against Ellsberg – an allegation that Colson states in his book was believed by prosecutors despite his denial. (source)

Colson claimed the Watergate scandal was a gift from the Lord to help turn his ugly life around. Colson ended up donating a lot of money to church groups, and speaking out against prison overpopulation:

God “used that experience – Watergate – to raise up a ministry that is reaching hundreds of thousands of people,” Colson said in the late 1990s. “So I’m probably one of the few guys around that’s saying, `I’m glad for Watergate.'”

Perhaps, now that Hunter and Colson are both dead, the former went to heaven, and the latter, hell. Or maybe Hunter’s been in Purgatory, smoking cigarettes and bitching out the secretary because he’s sick of waiting around in a goddamn tasteless room unfit even for the bastard Nixon. He’ll flip inside out when he sees Colson walk in.

Or maybe they’re both in the ground, where they will always be, which would truly be a sad loss for the political world.

See also Fear, Loathing, and the last 40 Years 

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  1. Colleague
    Colleague October 15, 18:14

    Just found your site by accident. Evidently your readership is a bit less than either HST or CWC.

    You appear to be unaware of the tremendous good Colson did throughout the world since his release from prison. Colson gave away millions to help the less fortunate all around the world and was a tireless advocate for the less fortunate.

    You would probably learn some valuable insights from reading any two or three of his books and then posting what he learned over the last 35 years or so. And you may come to realize that God changes hearts; even the heart of Chuck Colson. And even your heart.

    Reply to this comment
    • DDA
      DDA Author October 15, 19:10

      I’m not sure if I’m responding to a Chuck Colson PR firm tasked with changing the man’s image, but I should say this blog post was more about Hunter’s exchange with Colson, than about Nixon’s “hatchet man” and his legacy. However, no matter how much good Colson might have done, his help in perpetuating the Vietnam war and denigrating the anti-Vietnam war protests puts more blood on his hands than could ever be scrubbed off with charity money.

      God is very real. Hearts are changed, I’m sure. But of all the available books and wisdom in the world, I wouldn’t have thought to dip into Colson’s life works. I still might, someday.

      Reply to this comment
      • Colleague
        Colleague October 17, 17:41

        Not a PR firm, and there is little to do to change a man’s image at this point on the timeline.

        Colson was a different man before he met Christ, and he was the first to acknowledge that. And he showed real remorse for those things over the years.

        The Vietnam war was a terrible period. And so was the aftermath where communists murdered more than 6.5 million people in Cambodia and Viet Nam after the way. So, in a way, ending America’s involvement in the war directly led to those deaths. Whose hands is covered by that blood? The protesters and politicians who ended America’s involvement at the price of 6.5 million dead people in Cambodia and Viet Nam?

        Hearts change. We agree on that. And if you want wisdom, you could do a lot worse than perusing a few of his books.

        Reply to this comment
        • DDA
          DDA Author October 17, 21:51

          It’s hard to blame anti-war protesters for the aftermath of a destabilized Vietnam. Nixon’s campaign team, however, prolonged the Vietnam war in 1968 by sabotaging a peace deal between the North and South to ensure he was elected. Johnson was going to cease bombing of North Vietnam, which would have seriously damaged Nixon’s dreams of getting elected. []

          I’m not sure how many people the communists killed as a result of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, but I have never seen that involvement as creating peace or stability for the region. Supposedly 3 million Vietnamese were killed during the American invasion, and 15 million went to refugee camps. But who knows with these numbers for sure? There were also roughly 400,000 lbs of napalm and 11.2 million lbs of Agent Orange dumped on South Vietnam, along with 25 million acres of forest destroyed. Of course, those chemicals and effects were not reversed when the US military left. I can’t imagine the politicians and protesters who helped to end that war as responsible for ending something positive.

          Who destabilized Vietnam in the first place? When the French began to bombard Haiphong and attempt to reclaim the north, they appointed their own puppet leader, which resulted in a split between the peoples of the North claiming that Ho Chi Minh was their ruler. And then America backed France with money and they waded into unexpected guerrilla warfare. The West had been manipulating Vietnam since before WWII.

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