WASHINGTON, D.C. -- June 16, 2005 -- A liberal documentary producer who became an unexpected victor of the first ever Conservative Idol competition recently got an equally unexpected surprise: The folks he was trying to scam were in fact scamming him, as well as the four other winners.
Jeremy Levine, an independent filmmaker and a junior at Ithaca College, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference last February as an undercover reporter for the alternative student publication, Buzzsaw Haircut. While reporting on the conference, Levine entered a competition to become one of five “Conservative Idols”—a spin on the pop culture hit that happened to have a $500 prize.
The competition, sponsored by Interactive Political Media, featured over 100 contestants speaking in 30-second spots on various issues of conservative concerns, from family values to immigration. Videos of the half-minute rants were then posted online, where voters could select their Conservative Idol for each respective category.
Levine, who recently finished work on a documentary about vigilantes along the U.S.-Mexico border, entered the immigration category. Having spent months along the border filming the virulently anti-immigration militiamen, Levine could easily spout their hateful rhetoric. Stealing the words of the gun-touting extremists, Levine hoped to claim Conservative Idolatry.
“All I had to do was think of something vaguely racist and paranoid, dress it up in some patriotic jargon and hope the conservatives would vote for me,” says Levine, who was planning to use the prize money to help promote and distribute the documentary, “Walking the Line.”
Levine went on to win with 812 votes, more than three times the number of votes received by the winner in the “war on terror” category. Although Levine recruited his friends to vote for him, after the results were in, he realized he doesn’t even have 812 friends.
“That means real conservatives voted for me,” Levine said. “I thought I had taken the rhetoric too far, that maybe my American flag tie was a bit over the top. But no, apparently that’s what it takes to be the poster boy for the conservative movement.”
The prize money was to be sent by late April, Larry Ward, director of Independent Political Media, told Levine. But as of mid-June, Levine has yet to receive a check, and his repeated calls and e-mails have gone unanswered. The four other winners, who happen to be real conservatives, have also not been paid.
“I guess I can’t say I’m surprised,” says Levine. “But a part of me thought that a competition based around conservative values would be run by an organization that represents these values.” After a brief pause, Levine reconsiders. “Or maybe that’s the point.”
Transcript of Levine’s winning speech:
Our immigration policy is broken. If you talk to the men and women who live along the border, they will tell you: It is a war zone down there. And it is our government’s responsibility to protect our country and our citizens from this invasion of people who are threatening the very fabric of our nation.
We must seal our borders. We must increase funding for border patrol. And we must stop the hordes of illegal immigrants from entering our country. We don’t know who they are or what their motivations are. We don’t know where they’re from. And this, in the age of terrorism. What’s happening now on the border cannot stand. What will stand are the patriots of this nation in their demand for a strong border. Thank you.
Complete List of Winners:
Posted at www.politicalmedia.com on March 11, 2005.
DAVID BYRD - CPAC 30
ROBERT ROMANO - CPAC 16
War on Terror
JONATHAN KRIVE - CPAC 07
PAUL SHANKS - CPAC 12
JEREMY LEVINE - CPAC 14
For More Information:
Check out a press release on Conservative Idol put out by Interactive Political Media: http://www.politicalmedia.com/index.cfm?pageid=51
Jeremy Levine, the world’s first liberal Conservative Idol is available for interviews. To set up an interview, contact Kate Sheppard.
Images from the competition are also available upon request.
For information on the documentary: www.walkingthelinemovie.com
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Contact: Kate Sheppard