Since South Carolina secessionist and radical right Senator Jim DeMint is the Senate's most ardent obstructionist and votes "no" on virtually everything, it's sometimes difficult to tell when he really means it. When the Senate got back from their long summer vacation, they immediately took up S.1023, the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and it passed with a huge bipartisan majority, 79-19. DeMint, as usual, was one of the 19. What's he got against promoting travel? Charleston, Hilton Head Island, Drayton Hall, Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation, Myrtle Beach, the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia, Murrells Inlet, Mount Pleasant... are all being heavily promoted by South Carolina's burgeoning tourism sector. Now DeMint is still freaked out and hysterical that one year ago his state's tourist industry was catering to gays with an international campaign "South Carolina Is So Gay," a campaign not directly related to the gargantuan number of closet cases dominating the Republican Party hierarchy in the state, from Lindsey Graham and Lt. Gov Andre Bauer to the state Senate President.
But DeMint may not have to worry about gay tourists-- or any other tourists-- coming to his state. Even without any help from Arthur Frommer, it looks like a spontaneous boycott of South Carolina tourism is shaping up.
State and local tourism officials are being flooded by emails and calls from people across the country, saying they won't vacation in South Carolina because they're upset by GOP Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst at President Barack Obama.
The officials said that a number of the out-of-state e-mailers have said they've taken beach trips for years in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and other South Carolina resort areas, but don't plan to return.
...In a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 68 percent of Americans said they "oppose what Joe Wilson did during the speech." Twenty-one percent said they support Wilson's behavior.
South Carolina's $1 billion-plus tourism industry, centered around its beaches, had already been hit by the recession as Americans postpone vacations or cancel travel altogether. The state's 11.8 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in the country.
Marion Edmonds, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, said his agency had received 147 emails from people who cited Wilson by name and expressed displeasure with his remark.
"Some of them have been specific and said they won't be coming to the beach this summer for their family vacation," Edmonds said.
Both Columbia and Hilton Head are major tourist attractions in Wilson's district. His wife, Roxanne, of course, won't be joining the boycott, although she did ask her husband, "Joe, who's the nut who hollered out, 'You lie'?"
At 4pm (EST) House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn introduced a Resolution of Disapproval on the floor which passed 240-179 (with 5 voting "present").