Members of the GOP clown posse listen as Trump rants to reporters at his New York hush money trial.

Members of the GOP clown posse listen as Trump rants to reporters at his hush money trial.

(Photo by Curtis Means - Pool/Getty Images)

Ungaggable: Costumed Clowns and Lickspittle Surrogates 'R Us

This week saw a seedy, craven parade of MAGA stooges trooping into court to pay fealty to their two-bit mob-boss on trial for cooking the books to hide hush money payments to a porn star so he could get elected to a job he was stupefyingly unfit for, and still is. Then "God's most pathetic Republicans" - from Mike Handmaid’s Tale to the Beetlejuice Lady - brazenly violated his gag order for him to declare the rule of law "a sham." Nope, nothing to see here.

The GOP, of course, is already a toxic mix of idiocy, rancor and racism we always think can't go any lower until they inevitably do. This week, Florida's Ron DeFascist signed a bill deleting the term "climate change" from state laws in the witless name of owning "radical green zealots"; the action forbids any consideration of potential climate effects of greenhouse gas emissions from energy policy in the rapidly sinking state, weakens regulation of fossil fuel pipelines, and thank God "keeps windmills off our beaches." And in law-and-order Texas, his feral colleague Greg Abbott just pardoned racist groomer Daniel Perry after serving just one year of a 25-year sentence for murdering BLM protester and Air Force veteran Garrett Foster in 2020. Abbott, who notably refused to recommend a posthumous pardon for George Floyd for a 2004 drug arrest - years before he was choked to death by police - touted Texas' "‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney,'" confirming, one critic said, "There are two classes of people in this state, where some lives matter and some lives do not."

But Republicans sank still lower this week with the servile pilgrimage of multiple MAGA sycophants to the crime-and-bird-shit-stained altar of their ugly shell of a tinpot dictator, now charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up cheating on his wife when she was home with their infant son and then persistently lying about it. As further illustration of how deeply into ethical loathsomeness the GOP has sunk, these are the same goons who, after he admitted to his pussy-grabbing exploits on the "Access Hollywood" tape, at least had the good grace to scurry to distance themselves while making fake horrified noises. Now, at the mercy of an unshackled, sputtering bully vowing revenge on any turncoats - and their own unfathomable slavish devotion to him - such moral niceties seem quaint. And so they flocked there, cartoon villains in their goofy, unctuous, matching red ties and navy suits - they got the memo! - to kneel before their preposterous monarch. After weeks alone in court - not even grim Melania - he was jubilant. "I do have a lot of surrogates," he beamed when asked, "and they are speaking very beautifully."

Thus summoning the queasy spectacle of the "family-values" party rushing to defend a serial sexual predator banging a porn star, the appearance of the feckless likes of J.D. Vance, Byron Donalds, Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tommy 'Dumb As A Rock' Tuberville - the Republicans aren't sending their best, or are they? - was widely mocked as a "demeaning," "ridiculous," "embarrassing," “both thuggish and pathetic," "utterly humiliating" act of obeisance by MAGA plus-ones eager to drop their day jobs to win tawdry Brownie points. Serving as ignorant "Mouths of Sauron," they stayed in court for 45 minutes, came out to a press conference and violated Trump's gag order for him: The trial is a sham, a scam, a witch hunt, a Biden show trial (albeit put in motion by juries of regular Americans) and the judge and his family are crooks. Burgum: "The American people have already acquitted (Trump)." Donalds: "There's nothing wrong here, there's nothing that's been done poorly by (Trump), the only thing being done wrong is by this judge." Tuberville, saying the quiet part out loud (see dumb): "We're here to overcome this gag order."

Still, it got weirder. According to Trump's gag order, everything his lackeys did was likely illegal. It forbids him, not just to say what they said, but to direct "others to make public statements" about attorneys, court staff, their family members, the proceedings. Which presumably includes, as several journalists reported, Trump sitting in court editing speeches for his lap-dogs to repeat to the press. The most "gob-smacking" part: The arrival of "shiny-eyed Christian nationalist" and second-in-line to the presidency Mike Johnson with an "all-out assault (on) the federal and state legal systems foundational to the U.S. government." Johnson called the court "corrupt," attacked Judge Merchan's daughter - "Among the atrocities is (her) making millions of dollars fundraising for Democrats" (who's Ginni Thomas?) - said "these are politically motivated trials" and declared Trump "innocent." Jamie Raskin: "I don’t find anything unusual about a fundamentalist theocrat who thinks the Bible is the supreme law of the land attending the legal proceedings of an adjudicated sexual assailant and world-class fraudster for (covering up) payments to conceal (an) adulterous affair. Do you?"

Because the GOP is shameless and irony is dead, the next day Johnson - the Congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election who's already said it's his "duty" to do it again if needed, a position deemed on "the far-right fringes of American legal thought" - turned up at a House "Back the Blue” event to proclaim, "We've got to make crimes criminal again" and promote a California sheriff, Oath Keeper and Jan. 6 fan-boy who decries "the sick and twisted progressive social experiment." Because Trump, the House also voted to delay their “urgent” hearing to hold A.G. Merrick Garland in contempt for the imaginary crime of refusing to hand over information they already have - specifically, the audio of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, though they have the transcript. Ranking Dem Jerry Nadler blasted the "political theater" of Gym Jordan et al who've spent $20 million to investigate conspiracy theories that have "delivered Exactly Nothing" while delaying House business to attend the trial of a madman who just praised "the late, great Hannibal Lecter" and "defend (him) against frankly indefensible acts."

Despite Laura Ingraham's pan of the courtroom - "The air is musty, the floors are old, the benches are hard oak" - a "new band of jesters" arrived Thursday to attend/hold court briefly and attack everyone. This time it was far-right cranks Lauren Boebert, who missed court for her miscreant son facing 22 charges including a felony and multiple misdemeanor property thefts but found time to come trash Judge Merchan's daughter - "millions and millions of dollars" - and Matt Gaetz, who once sought a pardon from Trump while under now-renewed investigation for sex-trafficking a teen girl and said the D.A. made up "the Mr. Potato Head of crimes” against Trump. If irony hadn't died, we'd say Gaetz looked just like Mr. Potato Head - sorry, Potato - when he echoed the Proud Boys ina selfie with other toadies that read, "Standing back and standing by, Mr. President," earning a sublime "Bootlicker" troll: "Not all heroes wear capes." The final cringe: Boebert, her cohort gone, shrieking into the mike, "What is the crime?!" as people yell "Beetlejuice!" at her. "They may have gagged (Trump)," she wrote later. "They didn't gag me. They cant gag me. i have no gag reflex. I am ungaggable."

Later, once the bootlickers returned to D.C., the House held their let's-do-something-to-Merrick-Garland hearing. It did not go well. It went so unwell it may have proved, per one sage, "This country has been stuck in Junior High since 2015." It may have also proved, for the first time, Klan Mom MTG correct when she recently whined, "(Americans) are looking at Republicans in Washington and laughing at us. They think we are a complete joke." Alas, in more (dead) irony, she confirmed it when she and Jasmine Crockett, who's way above her pay grade, got into it after Marge lobbed a "fake eyelashes" barb at her so low Jamie Raskin retorted, "That’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene." So it went. Jeers, yelps, havoc. AOC deemed MTG's puerile rants "absolutely unacceptable" with, "Oh, girl. Baby girl." Crockett asked to clarify the rules if, say, she dissed someone's "bleach blonde, bad-built, butch body." Comer, befuddled: "Uhh, what now?" Raskin face-palmed. After a brief recess, Boebert took the floor: "I just want to apologize to the American people. When things get (so) heated, unfortunately it’s an embarrassment on our body as a whole." Wait. Boebert as the adult in the room? When pigs fly. Nothing to see here.

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