When celebrity news and American politicians collide, the results can often be bizarre, offensive or just plain silly. The latest example -- Republican Rep. Billy Long's comparison between the U.S. debt crisis and singer Amy Winehouse's death -- probably has characteristics of all three.
On Monday, the Missouri Congressman took to Twitter in what he probably thought was a valiant effort to be relevant and in touch with contemporary pop culture. Here's what he wrote:
Clearly, Long was trying to draw a similarity between the impending financial disaster in Washington and Winehouse's untimely death. But, what he likely saw as a viable comparison was viewed by many as insensitive and wrongheaded.
Plus, in sending the message, the congressman is clearly alluding to the fact that the troubled singer died from drug or alcohol abuse -- a theory that may be true, but one that has not yet been substantiated.
England's Daily Mail called his Tweet the "crudest of metaphors." The newspaper went on to cover Long in a less-than-flattering light:
Long, 55, is a controversial freshman Republican who represents Missouri's seventh congressional district.
He was elected despite accusations of a smear campaign, racism and homophobia and claims he was involved in sex parties.
Waitress Jennifer Case wrote on Facebook that the congressman was so bigoted he would refuse to be served at her restaurant by black or gay waiters.
It didn't take the congressman long to apologize for offending followers and opponents, alike. On Monday evening, he wrote the following to the News-Leader:
"Although I do believe spending 42 percent more than we take in is an addiction, I certainly meant no disrespect to Amy, her family or her fans. She was one of the few true artists to come along in a long time. What happened to her was a senseless tragedy and drawing an analogy wasn't meant to minimize the loss of life. If anyone took offense, I sincerely apologize."
Like Tim Pawlenty (who shared his love for Lady Gaga with America), Long may have a lesson to learn: It may be better, at least for PR sake, to simply stick with what you know best -- crafting policies that will both advance and sustain America.