Political wisdom can come from the unlikeliest of sources— even the ex-husband of Katy Perry and the raunchy star of a minor (and very forgettable) Hollywood hit, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
This source of political insight and regrettable cinema is Russell Brand, the English comic whose podcast and YouTube and Rumble video audience has grown to nearly six million subscribers.
One reason for his popularity is his witty take-downs of pompous politicos, much like the Babylon Bee’s clowning of California Governor Gavin Newsom Gavin Newsom. Recently Brand trained his sights on two more juicy California plums ripe for the plucking: United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul, who made headlines by crashing his Porsche, while driving drunk, in Napa Valley on Memorial Day weekend.
“Nancy Pelosi’s husband has gone and crashed his Porsche,” Brand begins with a chuckle. “But don’t worry about it because they’ve still got plenty of money.”
The comedian was referring to the $5,000 fine that the “82-year-old geezer” paid after spending the night in jail following his DUI arrest. His Speaker of the House wife has declined comment, calling it a private matter, and Brand concedes that some might view the unfortunate incident as merely a “tabloid distraction.”
Ah but wait, he adds. There’s more to it than meets the eye: “In another way it’s a reminder that there are a class of people that operate within certain spaces where five thousand dollar fines are meaningless.” The Pelosis certainly occupy such a space. The non-profit watchdog group Open Secrets ranks her as the sixth-wealthiest member of Congress with a net worth of $114 million. The couple owns, among many other properties, a Napa Valley vineyard estate, which was where Hubby was headed on his errant midnight drive.
With long shaggy hair and a rakish wide-brimmed Indiana Jones hat, Brand mocks hilariously the idea that this bi-coastal power couple are two people who can empathize with the struggles of average Americans. Pelosi in fact embodies the greed and corruption practiced by members of both political parties—“that we all know is occurring and is allowed to go on, masked, veiled,” in the Englishman’s lyrical phrasing.
He cites a Substack investigative article by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lays out all the particulars on “the towering conflict of interest at the heart of Speaker Pelosi’s self enrichment.” How her riches have grown like Midas in lock-step with her vast political influence. How she buys and sells stocks in her favorite trading company, Apple, even as she accepts calls from its CEO Tim Cook. Then, after these “personal, private conversations,” she pushes for changes in a pending bill before Congress that—surprise!—enables Apple and other Big Tech monopolies to avoid regulation that might limit their Brobdingnagian powers.
The five top stocks in the Pelosi portfolio are Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google, according to Greenwald. Google is one of the top five donors to the Speaker’s political treasury. “Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” said the one-time Big Daddy boss of California Democratic Party politics, Jesse Unruh, and Nancy Pelosi knows this as surely as anyone.
In another video Brand features a clip from the Grande Dame herself, when asked if she would favor changes in the laws to stop members of Congress or their family members from the insider stock trading practices that have made her and so many other public officials filthy rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Nah, no chance of that. “We’re a free market economy that should be able to participate in that,” she responds obliquely. Russell Brand then provides the translation: “There. That’s like saying, ‘F—- Off!” After which he explodes into laughter.
One bio described Brand as having a “propensity for verbosity” and a “Dickensian demeanor and vocabulary.” I’m not sure if the latter is a compliment or not, but if Brand were a character in a Charles Dickens novel, he might be a cross between Fagin and Tiny Tim—a devilish rogue combined with child-like innocence.
His innocence may be reflected in the fact that he actually cares about corruption in high offices and gets indignant about it. It’s not a “So what else is new?” issue for him.
“So there you go, America. There are your leaders. Not only are they political leaders, bureaucrats, and administrators. They are symbols of social justice that parade themselves before us as moral arbiters and icons to aspire to.” They are, of course, frauds.
Brand likes to sign off his videos with a tip of his Indiana Jones hat to freedom. And he does so again here: “More important than any of this stuff,” he says, “is that you please, stay free.” Whatever you think of this swashbuckling Dickensian character and his antic brand of analysis, this last is solid advice.
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