Thursday, October 12, 2006

Raj – you're fired

The last time most Americans saw Raj Bhakta, he was being unceremoniously fired by Donald Trump on the TV show, "The Apprentice2." Now, he's running for Congress as a Republican and riding elephants through the Rio Grande to prove…well, quite frankly….that he's still an idiot.

The bowtie festooned Raj, who had shrewdly usurped the ever popular Tucker Carlson look, made his mark on Trump's show not only for making terrible business decisions, but for possessing the uncanny ability to give the entire female viewing audience the creeps with displays of lame flirtation with every woman he came in contact with. His claim to fame; having just heard the infamous words, "you're fired," the ever cocky Raj proceeded to leave "The Donalds" office and immediately hit on Trumps receptionist, Robin. On the way out to the always embarrassing cab ride sequence, he pressed for her for a phone number and she shot him down. It was just one last special moment from the man who claimed, “I’ve always been famous in my own mind.”

That was two years ago. Today Raj is a Republican candidate for Congress from eastern Pennsylvania's 13th District. The Philly native, like other Keystone Republicans, is running on a platform that concentrates on the most pressing issue to Pennsylvania residents: Securing Pennsylvania's border with Mexico.

Raj has built his entire dark horse campaign around border security and stemming the flow of undocumented immigration over the Mexico/Pennsylvania border, much like fellow Pennsylvanian, Rick "Sanatorium" Santorum.

Finding out that Pennsylvania didn't actually have a border with Mexico, the ever clever Raj decided that if the border wouldn't come to Raj - Raj would have to go to the border. So off to Texas, Bhakta went.

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Once in Brownsville, he had a bright idea right out of a reality show.

To prove the porous nature of the border (and film a clever campaign commercial) he would hire a group of elephants and a six piece mariachi band to march across the Rio Grande with "Raj the Elephant Tamer", riding the lead pachyderm in the procession. Leading a pack of pachyderms hired from a local circus, two African and one Asian, Raj splashed around the river for about an hour.

According to Bhakta's account, “the band played on, the elephants splashed away, and nobody showed up.” “If I can get an elephant led by a mariachi band into this country, I think Osama bin Laden could get across with all the weapons of mass destruction he could get into this country.”

But, just like on TV, not everything was exactly as it seemed.

For one thing, the owner of the elephants, James Plunkett, of the Shrine Circus, was totally unaware of Raj's little publicity stunt.

Circus producer James Plunkett of rural Van Zandt County near Dallas said he thought he was renting out three elephants for a private party at a ranch east of Brownsville near Boca Chica beach and the mouth of the Rio Grande. He didn't know until … Wednesday that the guy riding one elephant was not a birthday boy, or that the camera crew was not shooting a family video.

"These animals are treasures," he said. "To put them in jeopardy or use them that way -- that's not something we would be party to."
Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Additionally, after being detained by the Dept. of Agriculture, who were called in by Border Patrol agents once they got wind of Raj's little circus, the elephants needed to be sprayed down for ticks acquired in their little parade through the Texas brush.

Ironically, as explained by Bud Kennedy of the Dallas/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bhakta proved nothing with his little escapade.

But any Texan knows that we can go down and fish or wade freely from parks and private ranches along the Rio Grande, with or without an elephant.

We want most of the river kept that way, although a few crossings could use better Border Patrol roads or a mile or two of fence.

A few miles from the border, though, somebody always stops you and asks who you are, your citizenship status and other pertinent questions.

Such as, "Where did you get the elephant?"

That's what happened the moment Plunkett and his trailer hit the Border Patrol checkpoint, five miles from the ranch. If Bhakta wanted to prove how easy it is to sneak an elephant into the country, he wound up proving that the Border Patrol is on the job.

"It was amazing to me how many officers showed up when we hit the checkpoint," Plunkett said. "They had two guys, then four guys, then 50 guys in a matter of minutes. They gave us a thorough workover. I came away very impressed with the Border Patrol."

That was good news to Roy Cervantes, spokesman for the patrol's Valley headquarters in Edinburg. Officers there catch about 300 border crossers a day, half not from Mexico.

"It's apparent to me that [Bhakta] has no idea what we do down here on the southern border," Cervantes said. "We have always allowed ranchers to use the river for livestock and recreation. We don't normally go out and stop someone like that. We use sensors and cameras to watch the crossings where smugglers bring in human cargo or drugs. ... Officers stopped the truck at a checkpoint within minutes. Our enforcement worked."


But like the myriad of other Republican congressional candidates from states far from the border, or from areas with little or no immigrant populations, he will continue to mislead the American people about the "immigration crisis" and the threats to our security. Raj will return to Philly with video of himself leading Hannibal's army across our "broken border" to demonstrate just how important it is to keep our country safe from the "invading hoard from the south."

Thankfully, like many of his Republican cohorts, Raj will get to hear this November the same words he heard two years ago from The Donald: "YOU"RE FIRED"

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