'Meanest Mom' Sells Son's Car, Family Gets Quite a Ride

Jane Hambleton, with son Steven, appear on
Jane Hambleton, with son Steven, appear on "Good Morning America," where she talked about selling his car after finding booze under the front seat. (Good Morning America -- Abc)
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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 11, 2008

Yesterday she was the meanest mom on the planet. Today: the coolest.

Jane Hambleton, 48, gained a worshipful parental following when news of a classified ad she'd placed in the Des Moines Register was picked up by the Associated Press. The text of the ad:

"OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

Sold! Hambleton, a radio DJ in Fort Dodge, Iowa, received some 70 calls from buyers. And other parents. And emergency room workers. And school counselors. And scores of others wanting to congratulate her for being so Dirty Harry awesome.

"I don't think you can print" what Steven, 19, said to his mom, she told the Register. But then they became instantly famous, and by yesterday morning they were appearing on "Good Morning America," which got the television booking wars started, as ABC producer Chad Parks recounted it. "Today" wanted them.

The Hambletons were about to book that when folks from "Oprah Winfrey" called, demanding exclusivity, so the family leaned toward that, mom being a huge Oprah fan. But then Ellen DeGeneres called.

And while Mom likes Oprah, Steven loves Ellen, and Mom was inclined to give this one to her son, considering she had taken away his car and all.

They were going back to Iowa to sort it all out, and were unreachable yesterday.

All of which proved one thing: America needed this. Oh boy, did we need this kind of tough love, the kind that says, "I am not your friend. I am your mother. Eat your peas. Now."

The kind that says, "I don't care what the other mothers are doing. I am not buying a pony keg for your party, even if I take away the keys to make sure your friends don't drive home plastered."

For the record, Steven, a student at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, told his mother that the alcohol in the car did not belong to him, but to a friend. For the record, Hambleton believed him. Nonetheless, it violated one of the two rules she'd set forth when she bought him the car at Thanksgiving: No Booze, and Keep It Locked.

Steven was originally "very, very unhappy," the Register reported, but he and mom seem to have patched things up. It's amazing what a free trip to New York can do.

As for the car, it was purchased by another couple in Iowa who planned to give it to their 19-year-old son. Hambleton told the Register: "I told the kid when they were leaving, 'Do not have any booze in that car. And if you do, don't hide it under the front seat.' "

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