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Bates Motel Recap: Episode 1, "First You Dream, Then You Die"

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A&E/Joe Lederer

Prequels are always a little iffy. For every The Godfather 2, there are at least a couple of Dumb and Dumberers. Couple the difficult feat of pulling off a decent prequel with the near-impossible task of pleasing a bunch of avid Hitchcock fans, and you start to understand the challenges Carlton Cuse and Co. face with Bates Motel. Luckily, they seem to be up for it. Hopefully you are too: I’m going to start recapping the show as it airs while giving you a little history of the original Psycho as we go. Here goes!

"Norman. Honey, I'm So Sorry."

“Oh, you’re gonna live with your mother?”
“Well, just for the first year...”

Appropriately, that’s the first bit of dialogue we hear on Bates Motel. Then the camera pans away from the Cary Grant movie and zooms in on an eyeball. Meet Norman Bates, who will one day stab Marion Crane to death in a shower and leave her similarly staring off into space.

But for now, he’s just a teenager - a teenager who senses a disturbance in the Force. After leaving his room and finding picture frames awry, an iron puffing steam and a pot boiling over on the stove, young Norman searches the house and discovers his father lying in a puddle of blood in the garage.

Back to the bathroom, which will be a recurring theme. Norman pounds on the door and begs his mother to open it, which she eventually does, looking totally unruffled by her son’s panic. “It’s dad. He’s - Hurry,” Norman implores her, but she does nothing of the sort. Instead, Mrs. Bates smirks slightly and wanders out of the bathroom with all the urgency of a hungover DMV employee.

Norma Bates doesn’t seem even remotely surprised to find her husband leaking vital fluids all over the garage floor. “Honey, I’m so sorry,” she says, and then rocks her nearly adult son like a baby. I mean... maybe at least pretend to check for a pulse??

"We Own a Motel, Norman Bates!"

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Six months later, the Bates family of two pulls up to the retro-looking “Seafairer Motel." Welcome to the Bates' fresh start. Norma grabs her son by the hand and takes him on a tour of the iconic house that came with the motel, skipping around and flopping down on a bed, swinging her legs girlishly. While nothing inappropriate is actually happening, something just feels amiss.

The next morning, Norman, ear buds firmly in place, is waiting at the bus stop when a gaggle of girls clad in leggings and short skirts approach him. Scriiiiiitch. That’s the sound of a record coming to an abrupt halt. This is a modern day tale? This feels a little disorienting, which I suspect is by design. Norman and his mother are living in a world that doesn’t feel quite right to the rest of us, from the ramshackle house to their retro way of dressing. Even the car is straight out of 1960 Psycho.

They coax Norman into a friend’s car; a girl named Bradley grabs Norman’s iPhone and programs her number into it. “If you have any questions at school, you call me,” she says, because that’s totally how your first day at a new school works. As the BMW drives off, the license plate reveals that Norma and Norman have moved to Oregon, just a bit up the coast from the novel’s fictional location of Fairvale, California.

Back at home, Mrs. Bates stops hacking at raw meat to answer her cell phone. It's Dylan, the black sheep Bates. “So you thought it was OK not to tell your own son that you moved?" he asks. "What if I was hurt? What if I was in the hospital? What if I needed you?" After he requests some cash, Norma hangs up on him.

"My Mom's Just a Little Impulsive."

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At school, Norman’s teacher-slash-adviser wonders why he does well on tests but not in class. “Is something wrong at home?” she asks. “My mom’s just a little... impulsive,” Norman says, then rushes to explain that he adores his mom's rash decisions. Miss Watson advises Norman to become part of the community by trying out for a sport. “What about track? You look like a runner,” she says, eyeing him up and down. He decides to attend tryouts after school, which means he incurs the wrath of his slightly slurring mother when he gets home.

As Norman gives Mrs. Bates the parental permission slip for track, she whips out her RSVP to the pity party. “We just bought a motel. How do you expect me to get it up and running without your help? You’re putting me in a tough spot here.” As Norman starts to backpedal, she lays it on thicker: “It’s fine. It’s OK! I’ll just do everything myself the way I always do.” She scribbles her name on the slip, declares herself not hungry, then slinks out of the room to lick her wounds.

"Everything in This House is Mine."

Daylight. While Norman is beating a rug (that’s not a euphemism), Keith Summers, housing market victim, wanders up and starts loudly lamenting how he lost the property. His great-grandfather built the house and his grandfather added the hotel in the ‘50s. “And that’s my grandmother’s rug,” he adds, emotionally. It is a nice rug.

Though Norma tries to sympathize with his misfortune, the convo doesn’t go well. She ends up threatening to call the police (or shoot him) if he returns. “Go ahead, call the police. I go fishing with half of them,” Summers spits, then tears off in his dented truck. “He’s just some pathetic drunk loser slob, honey," Norma tells her son. "He’s not going to bother us anymore.” That knock on the door you just heard is foreshadowing. It wants to be the first to book a room at the Bates Motel.

As mother and son listen to the Rolling Stones on a record player, the doorbell rings. It’s the gaggle of girls, and they want to know if Norman is available for a study session. Mrs. Bates shuts it down, citing lots of unpacking and “things” to do. Norman's none too happy about this and storms upstairs to immediately sneak out.

While the girls take him to a party that involves black lights, awkward teenage flirting (”You’re kinda weird. Weird-good.”) and a whole bunch of sticky icky, Summers returns to his family’s homestead. Norma screams for Norman, who isn't there, of course. It should be noted that Vera Farmiga, as Norma, has an amazing “Normaaaaaaaan” scream. Summers sees that no help is coming and handcuffs Norma to the kitchen table. “This house is mine, and everything in this house is mine,” he says, and rips her underwear off. Enter Norman, who clocks the rapist on the back of the head with an old fashioned iron, knocking him out cold.

As Norman goes to get a medical kit, Summers comes to and starts lurching back toward his victim. “You liked it,” he says with a sloppy grin, and that’s all the motivation Norma needs to slice him up like a side of beef. She stabs him over and over and over, the same technique her son will use a few years down the road. 

"Norma and Norman... That's Unusual."

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Although it was self defense, Norma refuses to let Norman call the police, fearing that their “fresh start” will suffer. “Who is gonna book a room in the rape-slash-murder motel?” she wisely points out. They decide to temporarily dump the body in one of the motel bathtubs until they figure out how to dispose of it, but leave a conspicuous bloody stain on the carpet as they're doing it. The only thing to do, Norma decides, is to rip up the carpet in several of the rooms and pretend they’re renovating. Right now. Even though it’s midnight. As Norman rips up the carpet, he discovers a little black book hidden beneath. He flips through it and sees some sketches of naked girls, and, as most 17-year-old boys would do, tucks it away for later perusal.

The motel lights attract the attention of the town deputy and the sheriff, who is - surprise! - Nestor Carbonell, AKA the ageless Richard Alpert from Lost. This gives me hope that other Losties will pop up. Waaaaaaaaalt as Norman’s new BFF? Anyone?

Norma is mostly convincing when she explains that she and her 17-year-old son Norman are just remodeling. “Norma and Norman...” the sheriff notes with a bit of a smirk. “That’s unusual.” Norma shrugs and says that boys often take their fathers' names, then turns to leave. That’s when Richard Alpert notices the bandage on her hand. Suspicious, he asks to look around, then comes dangerously close to discovering the corpse in the tub when he goes to take a leak. Having satisfied both urges, the sheriff and his deputy leave.

"I'm the Worst Mother in the World."

A&E/Joe Lederer

In the school cafeteria the next day, Norman looks down and notices a splotch of blood on his Chuck Taylors. He runs off to puke, and when he pulls his head out of the trash can, a girl hauling an oxygen tank is staring at him. She offers him a mint, explaining that the meds she takes for her cystic fibrosis make her a vomiting expert. “Do you have some sort of chronic illness?” she asks hopefully. Norman says no, and, looking a little disappointed, the girl introduces herself as Emma.

The Bateses head out on a rowboat to dispose of Keith Summers, whose corpse has been weighed down with chains. Also weighing the rowboat down: Norma’s recent discovery that the city is building a new bypass on the far side of town, rendering her real estate investment worthless. “I bought a motel that no one is ever gonna know is even there,” she pouts. “I’m the worst mother in the world.”

Norman plays right into her wallowing. “Mom, you’re everything. Everything to me," he says. "I don’t ever want to live in a world without you. You’re my family. My whole family, my whole life, my whole self. You always have been. It’s like there’s a cord between our hearts.” She calls him out on quoting Jane Eyre, but the lovefest continues. “It’s you and me. It’s always been you and me. We belong to each other,” he says, and then the duo celebrates their totally platonic love for one another by pitching a bloated corpse over the side of the boat.

Alone in his room, Norman takes a closer look at that sketchbook. The drawings are pretty twisted, including girls chained up in bathrooms and one victim receiving an injection in her arm. He quickly stuffs the book under his pillow when his mother opens the door to announce that she has a surprise for him: the new Bates Motel sign is up, and so is her outlook. “As long as we’re together, then nothing bad can really happen. Right Norman?” “Right, mother,” he responds, and that slightly creepy look on his face is nothing compared to the next disturbing scene: A real-life version of one of the drawings from the sketchbook. It would seem that Norma and Norman Bates aren’t the weirdest people in White Pine Bay.

Quotes of the Episode:

“I think people who are different don’t know they’re different because they have nothing to compare it to.” - Norman

“What are we supposed to do, clean this up with paper towels and spray cleaner?!” - Norman

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15 Fun Facts About Yo Gabba Gabba!
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Since its debut on August 20, 2007 on Nick Jr., Yo Gabba Gabba!—a kids’ show featuring a red cyclops, a magic robot, a pink flower girl, a green-striped guy, a blue cat-dragon, and a host wearing orange spandex and a fluffy hat—became one of the biggest draws for the preschool crowd. But thanks to the show's hipster-friendly musical performances and celebrity guest stars, Yo Gabba Gabba! managed to transcend its kiddie roots to become a hit with fans of all ages. On the 10th anniversary of its debut, let's go behind the scenes of the beloved series.

1. THE CREATOR OF NAPOLEON DYNAMITE HAD A HAND IN GETTING YO GABBA GABBA! ON THE AIR.

Longtime friends Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz got the idea for Yo Gabba Gabba! when, as two dads in their mid-30s, they were less-than-enthusiastic about the television shows their kids were watching. It wasn't that the other shows were bad; they were just boring and sanitized.

With their experience as musicians and videographers, Jacobs and Schultz thought they could do something different. So they scraped together about $150,000 and began writing, animating, and shooting demo episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba! in their garage. They posted these videos online and Jared Hess, director of Napoleon Dynamite, happened to see them. Impressed, Hess passed the link onto Brown Johnson, an executive at Nickelodeon, who said, “Lordy. Nothing else looks like this on television.” She quickly contacted the duo and, in a risky move that obviously paid off, gave them complete creative control of their own show on Nick Jr.

2. THE TITLE IS MEANT TO BE MIMIC BABY TALK.

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According to Jacobs, the name of the show is a nonsense phrase meant to be reminiscent of the first words spoken by a baby. However, that doesn't mean Jacobs and Schultz aren't happy the name also pays homage to The Ramones, who used the phrase “Gabba Gabba Hey!” in their song “Pinhead.” But that actually makes it an homage of an homage, as The Ramones were paying tribute to the original source of the phrase, the 1932 cult classic film Freaks. In the film, “Gabba Gabba Hey!” is part of a chant uttered by a group of circus freaks as they welcome a new member into the fold.

3. ITS THEME SONG IS REMINISCENT OF PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE.

The show's intro music seems suspiciously like the intro music from another kinetic kids' show, Pee-wee's Playhouse. Pay close attention to when the trees part on Pee-wee's intro and you'll hear a lot of similarities between the two.

4. THE SHOW BECAME A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON.

Yo Gabba Gabba! became a worldwide phenomenon, and was broadcast all over the world, including in Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada.

5. DJ LANCE ROCK REALLY IS A DJ.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

DJ Lance Rock is actually Lance Robertson—and he really is a DJ. Robertson grew up in St. Louis, where he started spinning records in the early '90s before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 29. While in L.A., he played with a band, The Ray Makers, who played a few gigs with a group called Majestic, which counted future Yo Gabba Gabba! co-creator Scott Schultz as a member. When the Yo Gabba Gabba! guys were looking for a host, Schultz thought of Robertson. After Robertson signed on, one of the first things he did was suggest they change DJ Lance's look to the now-iconic orange jumpsuit and fuzzy hat. The original costume included a waistcoat similar to the one worn by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

6. MUNO AND BROBEE EXISTED BEFORE YO GABBA GABBA!.

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While the other characters were created exclusively for Yo Gabba Gabba!, Muno and Brobee were already around as part of the live show for Christian Jacobs's kid-friendly ska/punk band, The Aquabats. Since shortly after their founding in 1994, The Aquabats have dressed in matching superhero costumes, fighting evil under aliases like The MC Bat Commander (Jacobs), Crash McLarson, Jimmy the Robot, Ricky Fitness, and Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk. The lineup has changed frequently over the years (Travis Barker of Blink-182 was briefly their drummer under the name “The Baron von Tito”), but the band still performs live and releases the occasional studio album. Naturally, they made a handful of appearances on Yo Gabba Gabba!, as well.

7. THE SHOW HAS A CONNECTION TO DEVO.

While most kids only know him as the kookie art teacher on the show, Mark Mothersbaugh was one of the founding members and lead singer of the New Wave band Devo. Even when he’s not wearing a red terraced “Energy Dome” hat, Mothersbaugh’s career has been prolific as a composer for dozens of TV shows, films, video games, and commercials, including Apple’s famous “I’m a Mac” ads starring Justin Long and John Hodgman.

8. BIZ MARKIE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO DANCE ON THE SHOW.

Yo Gabba Gabba! fans learned how to beatbox thanks to rapper Biz Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) and his “Beat of the Day” segment. Biz was initially asked to do a Dancey Dance routine for the show, but he has a bad back, so he offered to teach the kids how to do a beat instead. The producers loved it and it became a staple on the show. Parents knew Biz best from his 1989 hit “Just a Friend,” which featured his unique brand of rapping and “singing.” 

9. SUPER MARTIAN ROBOT GIRL IS THE PRODUCT OF TWO GROUNDBREAKING COMIC BOOK ARTISTS.

The comic book the Gabba gang often reads, Super Martian Robot Girl, is the creation of married underground comic book celebrities Sarah Dyer and Evan Dorkin. Dorkin is the genius behind the small press comic Milk and Cheese about “dairy products gone bad”—a milk carton and a wedge of cheese who love to drink gin and beat people up. Dyer was an influential creator in the '90s zine scene, where she was one of the few people giving female zinesters a voice with her Action Girl Newsletter, which later paved the way for the similarly-themed Action Girl Comics.

10. IT WAS NOMINATED FOR SEVEN EMMYS, BUT NEVER WON.

Yo Gabba Gabba!  received numerous Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and Costume Design, as well as for Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series, but a win eluded the show. In addition, the series was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming by the Television Critics Association Awards five times (and won twice). Internationally, the show was awarded a BAFTA in 2008. And DJ Lance received two NAACP Image Award nominations.      

11. THE SHOW GOT ITS OWN LINE OF SNEAKERS.

Ever wanted to see Foofa pop a wheelie? How about Toodee ride a surfboard? In 2011, the Gabba gang shot a series of videos to promote their line of Vans shoe, a brand popular among the extreme sports crowd. The characters shared the screen with some of the biggest names in the X Games, including surfers Alex Knost and Jared Mell, skateboarders Bucky Lasek and Christian Hosoi, BMXers Alistair Whitton and Coco Zurita, and motocross stars Dean Wilson and Ryan Villopoto. You can check out the videos at Yo Gabba Gabba's official YouTube channel.

12. THEY PLAYED COACHELLA.

The gang invaded the Coachella Music Festival in 2010, where they performed, hung out with celebrity fans backstage, and even showed up to dance with the audience at other musical performances.

13. THE SHOW HAD A LOT OF CELEBRITY FANS.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

For Halloween 2009, Brad Pitt donned DJ Lance's orange jumpsuit and fuzzy hat when he took his kids trick-or-treating. Lance was later quoted as saying that Pitt looked “Awesome.”

14. IT FEATURED A LOT OF GUEST STARS.

While most celebrities only come on the show to do a Dancey Dance or Cool Tricks segment, there have been a handful of guests that played a bigger role in an episode. The first was Jack Black, who had an entire episode dedicated to his adventures in Gabbaland after his flying motorbike ran out of gas. He got the gig after his wife emailed the show and practically begged them to let Jack come on because he was such a big fan. Other celebrities who popped in: Angela Kinsey from The Office played a teacher, the Tooth Fairy was played by Amy Sedaris, Mos Def saved the day as Super Mr. Superhero, Anthony Bourdain cameoed as a doctor, Jason Bateman played an evil spy, Lost’s Josh Holloway played a helpful farmer, and Weird Al Yankovic guested as a circus ringmaster.

15. A YO GABBA GABBA! DOLL WILL COST YOU A PRETTY PENNY.

The Gabba action figures that DJ Lance brought to life at the beginning of each episode were produced by Kidrobot, one of the leading names in the vinyl toy movement. The figures are no longer produced, so when one pops up on eBay, it often commands a high price. But if you’re not willing to spend that kind of money on an action figure, there are plenty of other Gabba-themed toys, books, DVDs, comics, smartphone apps, and clothes to keep your kids happy.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

Michael Ochs Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually broke away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying, “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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