I’ve known hundreds of journalists the past 30 years, and incoming Florida Senate Democratic leader Jeff Clemens was the last one I expected to seek a career in politics and the first one I expected to be found wanting in the character department.
Why am I not surprised by his recent fall from grace?
Because Jeff, who just resigned in a sex scandal, was never about public service. The most powerful Democrat in the state legislature was always about Jeff.
This quality makes him the perfect poster child for a generation of toxic elites whose members are incapable of leadership by example.
Hubris, greed and poor self control are not necessarily fatal flaws for a friend, but should be for an elected official in a functional democracy.
Instead, they’ve become straight-up prerequisites for membership in the two corrupt political machines since the end of The Cold War in 1990. That’s when Dems and Republicans elevated their fortunes above the national interest by making the sale of political protection to corporate miscreants their raison d’etre.
With the demise of Communism, The Ruling Class no longer needed a cohesive American society, an empowered electorate, or courageous leaders. Ergo, it began clawing back resources that had been shared with workers during this time of crisis.
Enter the Jeffs of the world.
These modern day Uncle Toms are willing to do anything to enrich themselves and secure the backing of the global moneyed interests who now buy our elections.
That’s why former president Jimmy Carter says corporate oligarchy has replaced democracy in the U.S.
Thirty years after the disintegration of Communist Russia, America’s middle class is poorer and less empowered than its counterparts in the developed world. Meanwhile our democracy is less democratic and our Congress less representative. Many of the decent men and women who once held elected office have been replaced by shameless hole-chasers like Jeff and his new friends.
One-person-one-vote has become one-dollar-one-vote, with a minimum entry fee of $10 million for a seat in Congress.
Elected officials in Washington, D.C. are wealthier than they’ve ever been and more insulated from the suffering of every day Americans. More than half our 535 U.S. Senators and Representatives are millionaires at a time when the average U.S. wage is $52,000.
They have free pensions and free medical care. We have 401ks and medical bankruptcy.
How do these county club commandos represent us?
The U.S. has descended into chaos under a generation of failed American leaders who are more concerned with establishing themselves as modern day corporate royals than succoring democracy.
I’m referring now to opportunistic garbage like the Clintons and Bushes, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and my very flawed friend Jeff. These personal wealth builders have more in common with Al Capone and politico William “Boss” Tweed – whose criminal activities inspired the films “The Untouchables” and “Gangs of New York” – than the sacrificial leaders who once made America great.
Jeff was an entertainment writer with no discernible interest in the greater good or principled stands when we worked together at The Naples Daily News in the late 90s. The journalism equivalent of John Belushi’s “Bluto” character in the film “Animal House.” Hardly the kind of person who winds up as a senator in a functional democracy.
Homeboy was good company. A fun loving pothead, opportunistic womanizer and talented writer who avoided hard news like the plague and liked to party.
As much as Jeff now tries to imply he was involved in unspecified instances of journalism heavy lifting back in the day, the painful truth is he reviewed films, plays and concerts. He wasn’t the guy covering a double homicide in a bad neighborhood at 2 a.m., flying into a flooded Bahamian airfield aboard a hurricane relief flight, or exposing political misconduct.
Jeff was the sort of carefree soul who often winds up as a bartender, surfboard shaper, short-order cook or parasail boat captain in South Florida.
If you’d asked me which of my friends was likely to dent the rules to do something fun they knew was wrong back in 1999 – Jeff would have been No. 1.
However, I never envisioned him playing the hustler in the state legislature. That rarefied accomplishment ranks with “Roscoe catching his tail” in the old Far Side comic series.
Jeff was quite literally “a lover – not a fighter.” Which is why this lovable rogue’s rise to statewide political leadership from journalism’s toy store seems so improbable. It’s a veritable Cinderella Story for Bullshit Artists.
When did you start giving a shit Jeff?
Forgive me for switching back to the first person to rail against the incoming state Senate Minority Leader, but I simply cannot help myself. I know the man and still like him. Just not enough to remain silent about the unrepentant scoundrel he really is.
There were endless opportunities to champion the needy and take on the greedy in the news industry in the 1990s, and Jeff studiously avoided them all. Instead of challenging the rich and powerful, he kissed country club ass.
Talented cub reporters habitually inspire comparisons to Woodward and Bernstein – the young scribes who helped expose the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation.
Not Jeff. He inspired comparisons to Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, who had his tongue surgically extended to attract attention from concert-goers.
Jeff was better known as a bass guitarist than a reporter. He was good at both, but lacked the work ethic to rise above the crowd and fulfill his immense talent.
I don’t need my friends to be perfect and Jeff was the kind of human sloth who makes a wonderful newsroom mascot and drinking buddy. However, he wasn’t the kind of journalist who gets assigned to front-page news and didn’t want to be.
In journalism, there are people who put on the hypothetical armor and ride out to do battle with powerful politicians and corporate executives on behalf of the faltering middle class, and there are people who don’t. Jeff was the kind of scribe who pulled up the hypothetical newsroom drawbridge behind the rest of us, popped open a cold one and turned on the game.
Gifts are wasted on such people.
Jeff’s subsequent rise to power is an indictment of the entire political field because personal excellence was not his thing. In fact, the only thing this slacker really excelled at was making fuck faces as he pranced around on stage.
Swear to God. I shit you not. Jeff’s outlandish fuck faces are what I remember most about him to this day, because we used to joke about them when we partied together. Before he became a political god and a professional fabulist.
The twenty-something version of Jeff that I knew had a natural talent for making fuck faces. He even had a signature fuck face, just like the fictional Derek Zoolander character and his “Blue Steel” trademark look. It entailed forming his lips into an “O” on stage and bouncing his head up and down like an umbrella cockatoo
Recent events suggest little has changed. Homeboy is still appearance over substance and showmanship over talent.
Jeff played at being a journalist, he played at being a musician, he played at being a public servant and he played at being a husband and father. By taking the benefits without the burdens and failing to understand they go together.
He possessed the soul of a hustler, rather than someone who leads by example via demonstrated excellence and sacrifice.
Almost 20 years later, the 47-year-old Jeff was all set to take the reins of the Democratic Party in the Florida Senate in a heavily populated swing state, which has decided two of the last five presidential elections, when he tripped over his own dick. His ensuing fall from political grace is a huge win for our nation’s first fascist president and his idiot supporters.
It also represents a huge loss for a Democratic Party that has embraced soft corruption and fatally flawed candidates. Dems are rapidly becoming the political equivalent of the Washington Generals basketball team that gets paid to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters in staged exhibition games.
Last but not least, Jeff humiliated his wife and kids.
“All women deserve respect, and by my actions, I feel I have failed that standard,” Jeff told Politico. “I will continue the therapy I began months ago, will seek to personally apologize to anyone I have wronged while seeking forgiveness, and will spend my time being a better husband and father.”
Good job Jeff. Way to go…
You make us all so proud.
The band was built around lead singer and guitarist Mark Giaimo, who was one of the paper’s graphic artists. Its name was a version of his name.
The four bandmates toured full-time for part of a year, living out of a van, in a failed attempt to crack the big time. Gymo’s biggest hit was known as “the drink song.” The venues it played included CBGB in Lower Manhattan.
Jeff was a better drummer than a bass guitarist, but actually moved to his weaker instrument to be more visible on stage. He also served as the band’s business manager – a role in which he allegedly first embraced the philosophy of “lie, lie, lie.”
I still remember Jeff showing me the band’s James Bond-like van in the newspaper parking lot before they hit the road in the summer of 1999. Its seats folded down into a bed at the touch of a button. Other buttons controlled the lights and curtains, making it the perfect rolling love nest in his estimation.
Women were drawn to Mark Giaimo – who was quiet, modest, introspective and insanely talented – and Jeff was drawn to the women who were drawn to Mark.
Jeff never heard of it.
How much is too much?
Not a question on his intellectual checklist.
Outworking the competition?
Never gonna happen.
Maybe in an alternative universe or another plane of existence. Not in this one.
Jeff’s approach to life was more along the lines of “Mongo like Candy,” the lovable brute from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. His long fall from political grace suggests nothing has really changed. He’s still a slacker intent on skating through life.
What better place to do that than in elected office, at taxpayer expense, in a capital city renown for crooked leaders, shameless lobbyists and ambitious lackeys?
I’m passionate about these matters because I moved to both Tallahassee and DC expecting to see the best of my fellow Americans, and came away disappointed.
Both capital cities are majestic. They’re filled with awe-inspiring government buildings, museums and monuments.
However, the elected officials who inhabit them are primarily charlatans, with no respect for women; the power groupies drawn to them have no respect for men; and the transactional relationships between the two groups of sex traders are about one lap dance removed from outright prostitution. In sum, they’re the worst of us.
The prevailing myth is that Republicans and Dems are competitors, but my experience taught me otherwise. They’re more akin to two professional football teams which compete on the field and then split the gate and the TV contract.
The members of our newly minted political aristocracy and the corporate royals who bankroll them send their kids to the same private schools; socialize at the same exclusive country clubs, like Trump’s Mar-a-Lago; and live in the same wealthy enclaves. They’re competitors in name only, with no interest in decent working people except as plastic fuck dolls, paid muscle, and exploited labor.
The painful truth is Tally and DC are places where personal honor, duty and public service die. They’re a perfect hunting ground for those devoted to money, power and ass. Rather than the greater good.
It hasn’t always been this bad. However, crooked politicians and business leaders have grown bolder the past 30 years as America’s free press has contracted. It seems as if every news organization which covered Wall Street excess has been starved of resources, while the market cheerleaders who reflexively applaud “profits over people” have grown fat.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” divided the world into decent and indecent men. If he’s right, then the indecent ones are running things now in DC and Tally.
Game theory – the science of logical decision making – embraces a similar philosophy. It divides the world into cheaters and those who play by the rules. When the rewards for cheating are high, cheaters abound. As they do now in DC and Tally.
Man, did you ever find a home.
There’s nothing Mark Giaimo can’t do when it comes to music and art, and his incandescent talent was always evident. He’s now an accomplished portrait artist who lays out The Washington Post Magazine.
The only person in the Gymo tribe who thought the band was built around Jeff – was Jeff. Delusions of Grandeur like this are a recurring theme in homeboy’s life.
In life, you need to periodically remind your jackasses they’re jackasses. Otherwise, they become delusional and turn into sociopaths.
These second-string human beings will run over a middle-aged female catcher in an inter-office softball game. Or bullshit their way into leadership roles with equally disastrous results for the rest of us.
Like say… disgraced big shots Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Hastert, Newt Gingrich, Martha Stewart, and Charlie Rangel. Or Jeff Clemens, super genius.
This is precisely the kind of trash a society winds up with when good people stop serving in leadership roles and are replaced by reprobates willing to do anything for money, power and social standing. Even if it means feeding America’s faltering middle class into a global economic wood chipper that’s leveling us with the world’s poorest workers.
The Roman Empire used a slave called an “auriga” to counter the tendency among its elites to believe self-serving nonsense. Their job was to stand beside the person being publicly honored and whisper “you’re only a man.”
If I could turn back time and serve as Jeff’s auriga I would whisper something along the lines of:
“It’s only a hole you schmuck and those – those are baby feeders.
“Right. For feeding fucking babies.”
I would then shake my head at Jeff like he was the dumbest motherfucker on Planet Earth. Which is exactly who he is sometimes.
Column ain’t called “Painful Truths” for nothing brother.
It’s almost as if the Jeff Clemens brain (Eddie Bauer Edition) is equipped with a pause button that self-activates around attractive females.
Once again, this is not necessarily a fatal flaw for a friend, but should be for an elected official. Especially given the current political stakes.
Let me put it another way: As a working class guy who was raised in the Bronx I’ve always taken pride in having what singer Garth Brooks calls “friends in low places.” I count the former incoming Senate Minority Leader among them.
Jeff ranks behind the marijuana growers I know and ahead of the ax murderer I met during a story about defense counsel compensation in death penalty cases.
Because his capacity for self-serving, unprincipled idiocy is unlimited.
If Jeff and I had been German Jews in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII I have absolutely no doubt he would’ve been one of the sonderkommandos working with our captors in exchange for extra rations. That’s just the way he is.
The painful truth is Jeff likes an extra potato every now and then and will do anything to get one.
Personally, I’d rather be a lump of charcoal.
Jeff went with the crowd at The Naples Daily News, where the newsroom was dominated by a rich blowhard with average talent who didn’t get beaten up nearly enough in junior high school. “Mongo Like Candy” adored this pompous ass, who had to move to Thailand just to find a woman who could stand to be around him for more than 10 seconds at a time.
Making rich people feel good about themselves is another recurring theme in Jeff’s life. One that has served him well in his political career.
There was a young female staffer at The Naples Daily News who dated something like half the male reporters and editors in the 30 person newsroom in her first two years there. One right after the other.
I passed on the conga line, but Mongo Like Candy jumped right in. As is to be expected of someone whose lecherous dating philosophy translates roughly into: “If there’s grass on the field I’m playing.”
Another recurring theme: The inability to say “no” to free stuff.
I’d say you were “in over your head” if I didn’t know so many politicians just like you.
Jeff and the frisky cub reporter – who would’ve made a helluva political lobbyist – didn’t seem to understand that everything that appears to be free is neither desirable nor really free. Like the people who eat themselves sick at an all-you-can eat buffet in Las Vegas and then brag about “beating the house” afterward as they’re vomiting in the casino parking lot.
They failed to grasp that the days of casual workplace sex were long gone for a multitude of very good reasons. Including the wisdom of limiting one’s exposure to everything from lawsuits to gonorrhea to power groupies who watch too many reruns of “Sex in the City,” think their vaginas are made of gold, and can’t wait to play the victim.
These female fantasists are not that different from adolescent Michael Jordan fans counting down the final seconds to an imagined buzzer beating shot on their driveway basketball hoop. Over and over and over.
But for the fact that they flock to power centers like Washington, D.C., and Tally, where their goals are to fuck their way to the top, and find and marry the elusive “Mister Big.” He’s the mythical power-broker with a heart of gold and a fat bank account, who is a kind and considerate lover despite living in a world of privilege.
The challenge for the power groupies is that there are literally 100 Neanderthals like Jeff looking to use them like plastic sex dolls for every one of these mythical unicorns. Particularly in a political world that’s long on rich posers with fancy titles, like “Mister President” and “Senate Minority Leader,” and short on fairy-tale ending for the sex traders targeting them.
Which is kinda how the #MeToo movement was born.
The Naples cub reporter eventually figured it all out and moved her exchanges of bodily fluids out of the workplace. Jeff, not so much.
Another recurring theme: Zero impulse control.
Would you say you’re entirely full of shit Jeff, or just 60/40?
I’m not ashamed to say Jeff and I were friends back in the day. I’m also not ashamed to say I unfriended this husband and father in 2010 or so after he started spewing partisan political rhetoric on my private Facebook page.
It’s not that I object to partisan political rhetoric as a journalism lifer. It’s just that I have minimum standards for the quality of those misrepresentations, which the older and bolder Jeff failed to meet. I also have minimum standards for those who present themselves as family men.
When did homeboy talk about his wife and kids?
The new and improved Mongo seemed to think he had suddenly become smarter than the rest of us, like a dog baiting its owner in a game of fetch.
He treated us as if we’d volunteered to serve as his private focus group for sins of omission and political misrepresentations. Then took things to the next level by behaving as if we should be grateful for his regal presence.
Treating friends as if they’re on your payroll when they’re not?
Never a wise move.
Assuming journalism lifers with a commitment to public service are in any way compatible with self-serving political bullshit?
It’s akin to telling the cops at the local donut shop that you drink and drive all the time, but no one ever pulls you over.
What we call a “loser” or “poser” and the Brits refer to as a “tosser.”
Success does not agree with Jeff, which is why I wasn’t surprised to see his “Come-to-Jesus” moment this week. It was always just a question of when for this modern-day Senator Blutarsky.
Recent events suggest Jeff had at least one extramarital relationship in Tallahassee, a North Florida city where state lawmakers meet annually for a 60-day legislative session. His alleged femme fatale was an immature political lobbyist named Devon West, who is paid to influence lawmakers on behalf of special interests.
I say “at least” because there must be more. Especially in a city where politicians habitually refer to their mistresses as “session wives.”
It’s hard to tell who is more juvenile, pampered and sheltered from the real world in Tally: The perpetually tanned sorority girls at Florida State University (FSU) who fuck everything that moves in the name of female empowerment or the wrinkled bulls in the state capitol who fuck everything that’s still warm in the name of entitled lechery.
However, there’s no disputing Tally’s status as a mecca for sex traders.
The resulting scandals are like having mice in the house because you almost never actually see the participants. Most of the time, you just see their scat. AKA, the used tissues and condoms.
However, when two suspected sex traders like Jeff and Devon are publicly exposed it’s a safe bet the hallowed walls of the capitol are chock-full of vermin trading bodily fluids.
Curiously, some telltale signs for mice and sex traders are the same: the scratching, grunting and low moans that emanate from the walls whenever they’re around.
The disheveled workers who emerge afterward from private offices and locked conference rooms with mussed hair, hickeys, smeared makeup and flushed cheeks are another giveaway. As are the colleagues who return from lunch smelling of the same baby powder.
It’s not hard to imagine Jeff and the other idiots in our self-appointed political aristocracy thinking no one else is smart enough to suss it out. Because they’re 100 percent sure they’re smarter than the rest of us.
Ergo, no shameless political lobbyist could ever manipulate them with sex, excessive speaking fees, donations to their nonprofit foundations, junkets to Europe, property in the Dominican Republic, tickets to plays and ballgames, jobs for their kids, insider trading tips, or by purchasing memberships in their pricey country clubs.
And even if they did, these politicos think the public – that’s you and me – is too stupid to figure it out. They have nothing but contempt for us in private and nothing but empty praise in public.
It’s a little big for a rounding error.
How else to explain the $250,000 speaking fees Hillary repeatedly pocketed from big banks during a 2016 presidential campaign when she needed to speak daily to stay in the headlines. Before any audience that could help her make news.
Of course, if you’re looking to wash political bribe money clean charging for free speeches is one way to do it. Much like the $100 million “donation” former Newark Mayor Cory Booker received from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, ostensibly for the children of Newark, and then redirected into his personal charity. Or the no-bid contracts given to Halliburton during the war in Iraq while its former CEO, Dick Cheney, was Vice President.
An extramarital affair with a lobbyist must have seemed like small potatoes to Jeff in such shameful company.
Let’s imagine for a sec you’re really not that smart and it’s just a matter of time before all your lies catch up to you…
It’s pretty unlikely homeboy only slid down this slippery slope once because there had to be a lot of opportunities to screw up.
That said, it’s not as if Florida Democrats have a monopoly on stupidity, abuse of power and poor self control.
Jeff’s resignation was preceded by that of Florida State Sen. Frank Artiles, who stepped down in disgrace in April. Incredibly, the Miami Republican was forced out by his use of racial and gender slurs – not because his political payroll included a former Hooters calendar model and a former Playboy model.
The GOP Hoochie Hiring Initiative was co-sponsored by former Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney (R-Overida), who paid a 27-year-old Hooters waitress a salary of $55,664 (equal to $81,000 today) to work in his legislative office in 2002. She was highly qualified in his eyes, even without the requisite work experience and college degree.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why.
Feeney went on to make the 2006 list of the “20 Most Corrupt members of Congress” compiled by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics – just four years after jumping from The Florida Legislature to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He’s a political lobbyist in Tally now.
Because being a lobbyist means never doing a day of real work for the political hookers who enjoy subverting democracy.
“Scandals lurk like mines in the state Capitol,” according to The Palm Beach Post.
The South Florida newspaper described Tallahassee as “a bastion of powerful men who spend weeks at a time away from spouses and family. Lechery there is rarely a secret.”
This should surprise no one in a city whose very name translates into “dirty bottom” in the vernacular of the Apalachee Indians who founded it.
OK I made that translation up, but it’s at least as believable as your apology.
The Orlando Sentinel says “infidelity is about as common as FSU decals in Tallahassee.”
I can confirm those descriptions as a former member of Florida’s capitol press corps. I can also confirm that nothing is too good for Momma Clemens’ baby boy.
There’s no shortage of ambitious young power groupies trying on influential lovers like fashion accessories in Tally. There’s also no shortage of aging bulls like Clemens seeking symbiotic liaisons with these Monica Lewinsky wannabees.
No one in Tallahassee knows the meaning of the word.
Not a question on the ruling class’ intellectual checklist.
The same dynamic of educated idiocy was at work in Washington, D.C., when the Sex and the City crowd tried me on like a new purse during my time as a member of the National Press Corps.
As if to say “does this Bloomberg News economics reporter make me look fat?”
The big difference between me and Jeff is that I didn’t trade anything for anything. I was a bachelor when I conducted myself like a bachelor. I was neither married with children – like Jeff – or dating people whose careers were dependent on my good will – like Jeff.
Was I flirted with?
Did I flirt back?
Did I have sex with my flirty colleagues?
Hell no. I had sex with a bunch of other people in DC though.
Self preservation, impulse control, and continuing access to a dating pool that includes millions of single women who neither work with me nor for me. This is not a miraculous accomplishment in a city with a ratio of maybe 10 women for every straight man.
It’s not like I’m a prude leading a celibate lifestyle and waving a crooked finger at those having a good time. I have just as much testosterone fueling my libido as the next guy.
The only difference is that I know how much is too much. Unlike Jeff.
I also understand that one of the benefits of dating is that you’re less inclined to feel like you missed out on anything when you eventually become monogamous. AKA get married.
My DC dance card included a narcissistic psychiatrist from Annapolis; a sex-crazed Orrin Hatch staffer whose mom hated Jews; a Russian real estate agent who hiked me into the ground; a crazy NGO specialist for Africa who loved white guys; a crazy Rand expert for Pakistan who hated white guys; a crazy cancer researcher who couldn’t stop looking at her own reflection; and a crazy medical billing specialist who guzzled down an entire bottle of Absolut Peppar Vodka while I was in the bathroom, collapsed face down on my brand new bed, and proceeded to silently empty her bladder all over my one-week-old California King mattress and satin sheets.
What did they all have in common?
They were all female, highly educated, attractive, fashionable, and completely obsessed with what writer Nora Ephron (of “When Harry Met Sally” fame) memorably called “the warm bath” of victimization.
Or, in the latter case, the warm bath of freshly expressed urine.
Cue the bladder-challenged billing specialist asking “when are we gonna see each other again” as I drove her home the next day.
This kind of entitled craziness abounds in DC and Tallahassee. You can multiply it by two when you’re married to someone else. Like Jeff.
Times three when you’re in elected office and targeting those who work with you. Like Jeff.
The same dynamic was also at work among my female doppelgangers. In fact, I had one platonic friendship in DC which was devoted almost entirely to swapping stories about all the weird people we dated.
Sorry Jeff, I no longer have the urinator’s number.
It’s not just politicians and lobbyists who get caught up in this Peyton Place nonsense in DC and Tallahassee. People from all walks of life lose their way in this moral cesspool and some of them wind up like Jeff.
When I covered Jeb Bush for Gannett News Service in 2003 my boss was still seething over her husband’s affair with my predecessor. Our tiny news bureau only had three people, but he managed to find a way to seduce one of her subordinates.
The wayward hubby was The Tampa Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau chief and his office was right next to ours in the old Florida Press Building.
At a certain point, the abundance of affairs in Tallahassee just gets ridiculous. As it did in my Gannett predecessor’s recent article about Jeff and Devon. I found myself looking for the missing conflict of interest disclaimer at the bottom.
By rights it should’ve read: “The author was involved in a similar affair in 2002, which ended with her paramour’s car in her living-room and his arrest for being an oversexed, drug-addled, booze-swilling adulterous lech.”
Fortunately for my predecessor, such events are quickly forgotten in “Tallahassee.”
My heartbroken boss went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Her ex became a political lobbyist.
Cue the late great Gomer Pyle saying “surprise, surprise, surprise.”
Dating is like driving in the sense that just about everybody does it at some point in their life, but everyone doesn’t drive 120 mph through a school zone while parents are picking up their kids just because they’re in a cop car. And that’s a good analogy for Jeff’s behavior and his generation of toxic elites, who take a misguided pride in behaving as if the normal rules don’t apply to them.
They’re very much like young police officers, fresh out of the academy and drunk with power, who refuse to ask themselves “how much is too much?”
This kind of public flogging is the result of that juvenile mindset.
Bad judgment is not necessarily a fatal flaw for a friend or for a dog, but it is for the ranking Democrat in The Florida Senate.
The painful truth is this was no midlife crisis. This was the Jeff who thinks he’s smarter and better than everyone else being the Jeff who thinks he’s smarter and better than everyone else.
West is young, blond and thin. She has a single year of lobbying experience and it’s her fourth career in the past five years.
Red flag anyone?
Not for “Mongo Like Candy.”
Holechaser. It’s what’s for dinner…
West kind of looks like a shorter version of Jeff’s amazing first wife.
Unlike her, West appears to have a screw loose by virtue of the abundance of her selfies which currently pollute the Internet with Angie Varona-like frequency. And just like Varona and Lewinsky, this ambitious political neophyte has somehow managed to present herself as a victim of the political dumpster fire she ignited.
There are literally hundreds of status hungry photos on this power groupie’s social media accounts, taken everywhere from The National Portrait Gallery to Icelandic houses to the Oslo Opera House. She’s in almost every single photo, too. Including many where she pretends to be unaware of her own camera.
I can just imagine Devon showing them to Jeff: “This is me in a swimsuit, this is me in yoga pants, this is me being smart, me being rich, me being a dutiful daughter, me again, me again, me, me, me …”
Photos of her beloved mom and dad?
Not so much.
Red flag anyone?
Afterall, you never know when a political lobbyist might want to start a second career as an adult entertainer, Reality TV star, No Excuses Jeans model or Hooters’ waitress. They might even want to work as a marketing rep for a pharmaceutical firm like Wyeth Laboratories, which employed femme fatale Donna Rice before she started monkeying around with Presidential candidate Gary Hart in 1987.
The Dems have a ridiculously long history of adultery and sexual impropriety that ranges from Hart to Jeff to the tented briefs of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). Other notables include disgraced New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and disgraced New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Meanwhile their Republican counterparts seem to struggle with attractive boys, congressional pages and public restrooms.
So I guess it should come as no surprise to anyone that Ms. West eventually helped herself to Jeff’s laptop and then emailed his wife back home in South Florida about their torrid affair.
Why would such an obvious egoist do such a thing?
Gee, I dunno. No reasonable person could’ve seen that one coming.
I’d pay to see what the woman who apparently wanted to be the next Mrs. Clemens wrote to the current Mrs. Clemens. Solely because the sheer stupidity of the current generation of political insiders boggles the mind.
I imagine something along the lines of: “Hi, you don’t know me, but I’ve been having sex with your husband for more than a month now, and I’m intelligent and young and good looking, and I do a lot of yoga. Anyhoo, Jeff says he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and he can really help my career. Whereas you’re not exactly leading lady material anymore after the kids. By the way, I didn’t know he was married. Cheers! … Devon West… P.S. I hope we can be friends.”
Painful Truth No. 9.561 Gazillion: There are plenty of swinging dicks in the City of Tallahassee. You don’t have to grab one that belongs to someone else, and you don’t have to grab one that can help your career.
Doing so is a sign of weakness, not strength; indicative of a willingness to cheat, rather than compete on a level playing field; and just as lousy a personal choice as those made by the aging bulls on the other end of these affairs.
The dismal reality of playing the other woman or man is that the person cheating with you is probably going to cheat on you at some point for precisely the same reasons. Homewreckers don’t get to play the victim when it happens.
I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but confidence is high.
I can kinda understand Ms. West’s position, too, although I’m not sure whether it’s missionary, doggie style or reverse cowgirl.
It’s considered very bad form in Tally to cheat on the session wife that you’re cheating on the real wife with. In the words of Austin Powers “it’s just not cricket, baby.”
And hell hath have no fury like a Carrie Bradshaw wannabee scorned.
The larger issue is why we have so many political sex scandals in the U.S.
This is what happens when you combine second-string elected officials with poor impulse control with first-string political lobbyists with no boundaries, smoking hot bodies, unlimited expense accounts and lots of corporate dollars to give away.
Think about it: What would you do if an incredibly attractive actor or actress was both willing to compensate you for treating them like a plastic sex doll and delighted by the opportunity?
That’s the dynamic Wall Street’s thirst for political corruption and forever profit growth has created in America’s halls of power.
Sadly, the folks who inhabit them don’t deal with temptation well.
All of which brings us around to Painful Truth No. 9.562 Gazillion, which is that the narrative of elite male sexual entitlement is not going to die until the narrative of elite female sexual entitlement does. That means no more of this “woman as forever victim” nonsense and no more of this “my vagina is a golden, perfumed chalice” nonsense.
Because “it’s only a hole” works both ways.
Homeboy’s first wife did him no favors in my opinion by setting him on the path to greatness. She was a good soul and a stunner physically; a journalism lifer with a great sense of humor; and the kind of tall, willowy, brainy blonde who usually winds up with a wealthy real estate developer in South Florida.
We all wondered what she was doing with Jeff, but she seemed to see some quality in this likable dude the rest of us missed. He was happy. She was happy.
And you know what?
I mean, Jeff’s my friend. It’s not like I dislike him, either now or back in the day.
Lord knows, I’m not the only one with embarrassing friends and relatives. We all have them. Even if we don’t claim them publicly.
Jeff’s not a bad guy. He’s just entirely full of shit at times, can be really friggin stupid and selfish, and has no business at the tip of the spear politically. Whatsoever.
Other than that, basically a good guy.
You’re an idiot.
Jeff caught fire professionally after his first wedding. He was more ambitious with this fine young woman in his corner, with an enhanced focus and sense of purpose none of us had seen before.
However, once again, Jeff was the only one who thought he was the star.
Because homeboy clearly has a problem with the in-and-out. He also has a problem with empathy and decent working people.
We’re on par with garden cabbages for Jeff and his fellow toxic elites – something to be consumed or discarded without a second thought. Neither a someone, nor a fellow traveler in a functional democratic society where we all must work together to advance the greater good
Bottom line, Jeff is a selfish political fuck now. And the chaos of an America in Decline is the “gift” he and his fellow selfish political fucks have given us.
You know how mainstream porn now depicts the man casually strangling the woman with one hand, in some kind of misguided display of male dominance?
And you know how most of us would never even dream of pulling that imbecile garbage with a woman – because we’re capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality?
Yeah, well, I’m not sure my single-minded friend Jeff and his fellow toxic elites are capable of making those distinctions.
Mongo Like Candy entered a political arena where he really didn’t belong after Wedding No. 1. First as an aide to former Florida Rep. Mary Bradenburg and then as a member of the Florida Legislature in his own right.
Jeff always carried himself as if he was more talented than he was. It was OK so long as he was around people who didn’t buy into his bullshit.
However, once he was surrounded by fawning lackeys he became as big an imbecile as any rich kid stunted by a lifetime of private schools, country clubs, and gated communities. This working class kid from Michigan kind of reminds me of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in that respect.
Cory, who I helped build into a national figure during my time at The Associated Press, also has struggled in the sterile echo chamber created by the endless fawning adulation of craven lackeys. He’s an idiot now, too.
You’re not supposed to be flattered by the comparison, Fuggo.
What’s the moral of this little political fracas?
St. Theresa of Avila was right. More tears have been shed over prayers granted than prayers ignored.
Jeff probably would have been a lot happier as a bartender, but then we’d be talking about how he gave away free drinks to good looking alcoholics in exchange for some play.
He probably could have made it as a high school teacher or state social worker too, but then we’d be talking about how he screwed somebody’s underage daughter. Instead of just another ruthless lobbyist in a parasitic field where infidelity is considered a redeeming quality.
Jeff said something to a reporter who was gushing over him in June that is quite revealing in retrospect: “It’s a hoot to pretend you’re someone else for a couple of hours.”
It made me wonder if homeboy even knows which of his personas are real any more. Is Jeff Clemens a public servant, man of parts, sacrificial leader, devoted family man, musician, journalist and repentant scoundrel?
Or is he “Mongo Like Candy?”
An adolescent pothead and hole-chaser with zero impulse control who thinks the only crime is getting caught. The kind of “dawg” who brings a six-pack of expensive beer to a party just to make sure he doesn’t have to drink the same stuff as the rest of us.
You know how most people bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer to a party to share with their friends?
The Jeff I knew didn’t do that.
The six packs homeboy brought to my house parties were strictly for his own consumption.
I can still see myself greeting him at the door of my former home in Florida’s Golden Gate Estates – my youthful head covered in thick, lustrous brown hair – and reaching for his fiesta contribution. Only to be waved away.
The Jeff Clemens brain (Eddie Bauer Edition) isn’t equipped with that gear. And its absence is the only “must-have” qualification for elected office right now.
If you were a 12-year-old girl we’d say you were “boy crazy.”
The sad thing about fame is that the truth seems to become whatever you can convince others to believe for those who surround themselves with fawning lackeys. Like say Jeff, Cory, The Donald, Geedub and the Clintons.
At a time when America desperately needs an alternative to systemic corruption and toxic elites, far too many of our elected leaders are just “whatever gets over.” They’re no-talent political hookers making stupid fuck faces to hide the fact they don’t really belong on stage.
The painful truth is they’re first-class nothing, and that’s OK with them. So long as someone else is cleaning up their messes, picking up the check and spreading their legs for them.
Jeff is the poster child for a generation of failed American politicians who don’t understand that putting on a show is not the same thing as real leadership, which is always done by example.
That means sacrifice and impulse control. Not entitlement.
It means helping the poor and faltering middle class from whence you came. Instead of yourself and your new rich friends.
Look at the bright side, Jeff: You’re not the first political hooker to trip over your own dick and you won’t be the last. Think positive, dude.
What’s next for Jeff and Devon?
Well, the future is still pretty bright for bullshit artists looking to skate through life.
Politics isn’t the only industry that prizes sex traders with no moral compass. Silicon Valley uses them to recruit high-end programmers and computer engineers; Wall Street uses them to recruit wealthy investors; and Big Pharma uses them to sell overpriced meds to physicians and hospital administrators.
The opioid crisis could never have claimed 450,000 American lives from 1999 to 2018 without the Jeffs and Devons of the world.
Facebook could never have hijacked the public forum, undermined America’s free press and monetized our freedoms of speech and association without these modern-day sonderkommandos.
Banks could never have made loansharking legal in the early 1980s without open-minded lobbyists and the sex-addicted politicians they prey upon.
And The House of Saud – which financed 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden – could never have butchered journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi if our elected leaders weren’t for sale to the highest bidder. Much less gotten away with killing 2,996 Americans.
Fortunately for the world’s tyrants, America has a surplus of opportunistic lackeys who are willing to monetize both the greater good and our freedoms. And an abundance of state and federal legislatures which are more akin to the British House of Lords than something resembling representative leadership.
Anyway, I’ve heard billionaire Michael Bloomberg pays top dollar to those willing to do anything to convince hedgies to rent out Bloomberg LP terminals for $24,000 a year each. Even when that means trading bodily fluids with self-described “masters of the universe” who can neither change a tire nor sew on a button.
You might try to get on his payroll as an “editor at large” or some such nonsense. Just don’t get pregnant, develop a moral compass, mention his height, or let him know you can change a tire.
This column was updated Feb. 25, 2021, to replace degraded photos, remove broken hyperlinks, add more painful truths, and insert a ton of hyperlink Easter Eggs.
The author is a journalism lifer, veteran pot-stirrer, Yankee Jew Bastard, commie pinko, bleeding heart liberal and saucy commoner who has segued into “take no shit” mode after being saturated by the entitled corruption of America’s toxic elites. He also watches way too many movies.