George Allen: Dixiepublican?

George Allen, tobacco spittin', cowboy boot-wearing senator from Virginia is among the GOP's top presidential hopefuls for 2008 — an authentic Reaganesque figure, or so it's said. But Ryan Lizza of TNR spins out a fascinating profile of Allen and his early honeymoon with the Confederate South.

We might understand Allen's love for the rebel flag if he actually grew up in, you know, the South. But Lizza details Allen's upbringing in a palatial estate in Palos Verdes —a tony coastal enclave in Los Angeles — with a libertine French mother and a star football-coach dad. When he wasn't tormenting his sister, who recounts the punishment Allen dished out in a tell-all memoir, Allen drove around in a Mustang that reportedly bore the Stars and Bars. Giving rise to the title of the piece, "Pin Prick," Allen even wore a minature Rebel Flag on his shirt-collar for his yearbook photo.

This wasn't some passing boyhood fancy. Even until 1993 Allen kept a Confederate Flag in his living room. As the cowboy boots and tobacco juice attest, Allen has also brought a hint of the Western with him to the Deep South. This has occasionally resulted in a grotesque melange: Allen reportedly used to keep a noose hanging from the ficus tree in his law office.

Read the piece. You'll be creeped out.