Because of how Donald Trump can dominate the entire media with nothing but a handful of dumb tweets, things fall can through the cracks. Like his selection of Michael Pence as a running mate, which lasted maybe half a news cycle before we collectively figured there were bigger fish to fry than the cod-like governor of Indiana.

But Indiana ain’t just cornfields and basketball. It’s the crossroads of America (surrounded by cornfields and basketball courts), and we shouldn’t have been so quick to brush aside its governor. Since a lot of people are desperately searching for a lamp to rub to wish Trump away, we thought it’d be worth putting together some facts about the man who’d probably take his place if shit goes down. And boy do we have some bad news.

6

Pence Fucking Hates Mulan

After a “soft launch” at a political career, Pence decided to try something different and went into talk radio. It was a convenient way to stay in politics without actually having to assist the public. He described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” — all the hate without the sweet release of an early heart attack. We could use this space to go into detail about how sharp and measured Pence may have appeared over the radio, and clips do exist of him speaking fairly eloquently to his echo chamber, but it’s a much more interesting character study to delve into the time he got mad at Disney for their “liberal” portrayal of women in the military in Mulan. So what was Pence’s exact problem with the movie? is it the gender identity issues? No, Tumblr has more opinions on that than Pence could have even dreamed of. Is it the commercial association the film had with McDonald’s? Clearly, he never tried that Szechuan Nugget Sauce. Is it that he doesn’t respect women the same way that he does men? Yup, there we are:

The Mike Pence Show

Playing a Republican crowd favorite, Pence donned the officer and a gentleman persona, saying he wants to keep women out of the military for their own safety. Look, ladies, male soldiers are going to keep sexually harassing and assaulting women. That will never change. Which is why Pence was worried that Mulan would inspire young princesses to serve their country and and turn brave heroes into sex offenders. He even refers to how Bambi ruined the debate on deer hunting in America. Seriously, what kind of maniac watches Bambi and is on the side of the hunters?

Regardless of his ridiculous positions on ancient Chinese familial dynamics and the importance of honor in service, Pence used that radio show to keep his name in the news across Indiana, and it didn’t take long before Hoosiers were listening to him on over 20 stations statewide for several hours a week. So when he ran for Congress again in the ’00s, he had a well-known position on every issue, name recognition across the state, and a media savvy that was hard to match in a state like Indiana. Finally, he had a real victory under his belt, but the ridiculousness of his career wasn’t even close to finished.

5

He Calls His Wife “Mother”

Mike Pence and his wife Karen have, on the surface, a pretty fantastic-looking marriage, if your definition of a fantastic marriage only includes missionary. They’ve been together since college, they’ve been blessed with smart kids, and Karen has remained loyal to Mike even as pledged his loyalty to a man who embodies the opposite of everything they believe as Christians.

In fact, the Pences are such a well-known dream couple that a lot of conservatives and liberals alike were quick to come to their defense when Mike was grilled (and rightly so) for refusing to sit down for dinner with any woman (even a colleague) without anyone else present. Why respect hamburger when you can have steak at home, right?

But that’s not even the weirdest dinner story coming out of the Pence family. During his time as governor, at a small dinner with some state legislators, Mike found himself seated at the other end of the table from his wife. Not knowing how to do small talk without his talking point prompts (as he is wont to do), a flustered Pence cried out to his wife, “Mother! Mother! Who prepared our meal this evening?” That’s right, the 2017 vice president of the United States calls his wife “mother.” “Mother!” like how a teenage Mormon girl grumbles at her mom when she says something embarrassing in front of a cute boy. The only time that a sitting governor should address his wife as “mother” in front of other legislators is when those administrators are wearing stovepipe hats and discussing Confederate troop movements.

But what is much more disturbing is that Karen Pence isn’t just the “mother” in their relationship, but the daddy as well. She has another nickname in the Pence household: “prayer warrior.” And if some people formerly close to the Pences are to be believed, it seems that she’s the real force behind Mike’s conservative stances. Since his election as a representative, Mrs. Pence has had a red phone installed in Pence’s offices that only she has the number to. She also sits in on meetings as his “gut check and shield,” helped pick his staff, and is present during his debriefings. That’s a lot of political influence for a raging homophobe who thinks sexuality is a choice and believes her prayers can increase people’s hemoglobin count. So in case some of us are still thinking President Pence might be the lesser of two evils, don’t forget who would really be running the show — and Karen Pence ain’t no Edith Bolling Galt Wilson.

4

Pence Went Full Racist In One Campaign Ad

To get a sense of how Pence got to where he is now, it’s important to dig back into his earliest ventures into politics, when he was young (middle-aged) and idealistic. His first run for Congress in 1988 was less than successful, as he lost to a Democrat (in Indiana!) named Philip Sharp. This understandably left the young upstart Pence feeling fairly dejected, and he came back in 1990 ready to campaign like he was on a mission from God.

Apparently, that divine mandate required Pence to be racist as fuck. See, there was a bit of a desert storm brewing in the early 1990s, and the Pence campaign realized what an important issue oil in the Middle East might become. So they launched an ad campaign that has mysteriously been wiped from the internet, save for this still.

Mike Pence for Congress
It’s like trying to find the racist political ad version of Bigfoot footage.

That white dude In a Bob Marley costume is an actor pretending to be a Middle Eastern man, ironically thanking Representative Sharp for getting America to rely so heavily on his country’s oil. That’s racist even by fratboy standards. And remember, this was 11 years before the September 11th attacks launched anti-Muslim feelings in the United States into the stratosphere, making Pence a hipster of Islamophobia (he was into it before everybody else was). There was just no reason for Pence to give this the thumbs-up — though to his credit, he’s admitted the backlash from this ad convinced him to never again launch a negative ad himself. That’s what running mates are for.

But shockingly, this terrible ad isn’t what lost Pence the race. It would later come out that he’d been misusing campaign funds to pay for his mortgage, groceries, car payments, and golf tournament entries — or as we know it now, training for being in the Trump cabinet. This wasn’t illegal at the time, but for someone running on fiscal responsibility and down-home morals and values, this was the final nail in the coffin for Pence’s early political career.

He would have to go on to pursue a somewhat different dream …

3

Pence Tried To Create His Own State-Run Media

One of the most heinous parts of living under a Trump administration has been his relentless assault on a free press — or at least, that small part of the press that speaks up whenever he acts like he’s God Emperor of the Doucheclowns. But if they had wanted a bit of a clue as to how media might look under a Putin Trump presidency, they should’ve looked at Pence’s time as governor.

Pence, it turns out, has a bit of a history of censorship. When some of his constituents commenting on his public Facebook page noticed their comments had disappeared, it was revealed that Pence’s staff was going through and deleting comments in a targeted fashion. If they were particularly pro-gay or seemed to come from people they knew were specifically anti-Pence, the staffers had been instructed by Pence (which he freely admitted to) to go ahead and get rid of them. Sure, it’s just social media, but that’s how a lot of people get their news nowadays, and when you’re a politician, that’s a clear suppression of folks’ First Amendment rights. Yes, even if they hate you.

Governor Mike Pence/Facebook
Especially when they hate you.

Not that that makes Pence the world’s most boring dictator or anything. No, that coup happened when he tried to create a literal state-run news service. The plan was to come up with a controlled breaking news outlet called JustIN, which sounds like how an angry mom would yell at her son to stop skateboarding. JustIN would have meant that government types would be able to control the news that was coming out of their offices, and independent press agencies would have no more access to political coverage other than repeating what JustIN published. This was quickly mocked as “Pravda on the Plains,” which still makes it sound more exciting than Pence’s particularly mundane evil. Governor Pence quickly backed off the idea, if for no other reason than he probably remembered that conservatives are supposed to appear to reduce the government meddling into people’s affairs. Eye on the tax breaks, Pence. Eye on the tax breaks.

2

But His Emails!

It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton’s emails were one of the issues that dragged her down into the electoral gutter. Democrats flailed wildly to defend her, trotting out a number of politicians who it seems had used private email servers to handle state business in order to show how normal it was for a bunch of old people to not understand internet good. But if the point was to show politicians’ digital incompetence, then why didn’t they utilize this fun story from the Republican VP candidate?

During the presidential race, Mike Pence sent an email blast titled “Nefarious News!” (which is exactly how we imagine an upset Pence talks), stating that he and his wife Karen were stranded in the Philippines and needed some money. It was quickly uncovered that some really incompetent people ran a substandard phishing attack on Pence’s email account and sent a money request to all his contacts. No one believed it, of course, because everybody knows that the Pences only holiday in Gary, Indiana.

So his AOL email (yes, Mike Pence still uses AOL) got hacked by scammers. Big deal. Happens to the best of us, right? Except that, according to every neckbeard on the internet, the best would never use personal email addresses to conduct state business, which is exactly what Pence did. When The Indianapolis Star made a public records request to look into the hacked emails, they were told that some emails were too sensitive to be made public — i.e. they contained important state business. If that’s not ringing any alarm bells to you, it should, especially if you considered “cyber security liability” a reason not to elect a politician into a higher office than he (or she) had ever held.

1

Even The Republicans In Indiana Hate Him

For a man in such high office, Mike Pence is not a very popular man. Even among conservatives in already-blood-red Indiana, Pence is about as liked as a unisex bathroom with a concealed carry ban. Remember how his first two congressional losses were to a Democrat? Well, that nearly happened again in his gubernatorial elections. His first win in 2012 came with about a 3 percent margin, even as Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama in Indiana by about 10 percent. That’s right, Pence has less of a way with people than Mitt Romney.

Even worse was the 2016 gubernatorial election. Prior to accepting the VP nomination in July, Pence was still leading for reelection — barely. About two months before getting tabbed for the Trump ticket, he was polling at roughly a dead heat with Democrat John Gregg.

Turns out Pence had spent a little too much of his political capital on the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which protects the legal rights of people discriminating against others on the basis of their god not liking them. Championing the bill (and then slowly backing away after the slightest of pressure) left him with a higher disapproval rating than approval. Voters claimed that while Pence might have been better equipped to handle things like the budget, they trusted Gregg more to handle things like, and this is an actual quote, “not embarrassing the state of Indiana on a national level.”

Finally, Pence has been on the receiving end of a bunch of protests throughout his career, though it seems like the worst is yet to come. But none probably stung more than watching about 150 graduates of the University of Notre Dame and their families walk out as Pence (who was only invited because student body had protested against inviting Trump) got up to give the commencement address last May. That’s a significant percentage of (largely wealthy and conservative) students who walked away from the most important day of their lives in order to not be on the same football field as a man like Pence.

Isaac is a proud Notre Dame alum, a Buckeye by birth, and a Hoosier by girth. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

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