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The wrong John Wayne

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Rep. Michele Bachmann kicked off her presidential campaign on Monday in Waterloo, Iowa, and in one interview surrounding the official event she promised to mimic the spirit of Waterloo’s own John Wayne.

The only problem, as one eagle-eyed reader notes: Waterloo’s John Wayne was not the beloved movie star, but rather John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer.

Mrs. Bachmann grew up in Waterloo, and used the town as the backdrop for her campaign announcement, where she told Fox News: “Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” (Someone has already posted the clip to YouTube under the name BachmannLovesGacy)

John Wayne, the movie legend, is in fact from Iowa and the John Wayne birthplace is a celebrated landmark — only it’s in Winterset, which is a nearly three hour drive away from Waterloo.

Gacy, though, had his first taste of the criminal life in Waterloo, where he lived for a short time, and where he had his first criminal conviction for an attempted homosexual assault, which landed him in prison for 18 months.

He would move back to Illinois, where his killing spree started, and lasted about six years. In 1980 he was convicted on 33 counts of murder, and was executed in 1994.

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UPDATE:

The Bachmann campaign sent this explanation: “John Wayne is from Iowa, his parents lived in Waterloo.”

And indeed his parents did in fact live briefly in Waterloo — in fact, according to “Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne,” it’s where they met. But soon after their marriage they moved to Winterset, where Wayne was born.

It’s also worth noting that Mrs. Bachmann herself is no stranger to the actor. In the run-up to her campaign announcement she gave an interview to NewsMax.com in which she talked about him as a symbol of a good time in the country’s history.

“We’re seeing the nation move into decline. I’m not willing to do that. I’m not satisfied. I grew up with John Wayne’s America. I was proud that you grew up in John Wayne’s America: Proud to be an American, thrilled to be a patriot,” she said.

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