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Opinion: Rick Perry more ‘Joker’ than ‘Brokeback’ cowboy

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Rick Perry has been capitalizing on his down-home appeal since he first went into politics, and the much-mocked ad he released last week again showed the Texas governor in rustic attire. But it was that ad’s message -- “There’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school” – that’s made the former Republican presidential frontrunner one lonesome cowboy.

The ad has become one of the most disliked videos ever posted on YouTube. And in Iowa over the weekend, the candidate was heckled and asked what he’s got against gay people.

In a major fashion oopsie, Perry’s wardrobe choice turned out to be more ironic than iconic: The corduroy jacket Perry’s wearing in the ad is nearly identical to the one worn by Ennis Del Mar, Heath Ledger’s character in the 2005 gay romance ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ Ennis is haunted by his forbidden love affair with fellow cowboy Jake Gyllenhaall’s Jack Twist.

But speaking of twists, I found the content of the 30-second ad, in which Perry vows to “end Obama’s war on religion,” more resonant of Ledger’s later role, The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight.’ And that’s not just because the former front-runner has recently appeared decidedly clownish.

Batman’s nemesis arrives in town as an “agent of chaos” after the Mayor and Batman wipe out organized crime in the city of Gotham. Ledger’s performance in the movie, which was released after the actor’s death, gives life to a frighteningly convincing anarchist. And when the Joker comes face to face with Batman, garish scars to hooded mask, he predicts that when the chips are down, “these civilized people will eat each other.”

In what may well be Rick Perry’s last race, the tied-for-5th-place GOP presidential contender is willing to put aside civilized behavior and vie for evangelical primary voters by vowing to fight “liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

I am not a Christian, but can imagine that those who are might be offended by the suggestion that such bigotry and mean-spiritedness were inspired by Christ.

Perry’s desperate move isn’t likely to work, though. In a key scene in the 2008 film, Ledger’s Joker and his henchmen burst into a fancy Gotham political event staged on a large ballroom set filled with extras in elegant clothes.

As the nihilist criminal terrorizes the cowering guests, Hollywood intersects with Washington and the menacing screen villain confronts none other than Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in a cameo role. The Democratic chairman of the Senate judiciary committee speaks for good citizens everywhere as he delivers his one line: “We’re not intimidated by thugs.”

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