This year’s CPAC-AFPAC double feature was a multi-day spectacle that a single 2,000 word article could never describe in adequate detail. Over the course of three days, I witnessed enough absolutely bonkers shit to have leveled critical psychic damage on the most equanimous of monks. No amount of mindfulness meditation, Stella tall boys, or the finest CBD I could buy in the Free State of Florida was able to inure me to the effects of seeing Kevin Sorbo wearing a suit lined with his own Tweets. I was in the lion’s den, and I wasn’t scared so much as perpetually baffled to the point of exhaustion.
A lot of stuff didn’t make the initial cut, which was a hell of a shot to take. So in the effort of cleansing my palate, here’s a chaser: the top 14 bloopers from CPAC-AFPAC 2022.
1. The McCloskey couple from the Missouri protest where they pointed guns outside of their house at BLM protesters were handing out photos of the incident as a sort of advertisement for the husband’s senate campaign. I believe it’s because no one would have recognized them otherwise.
2. After the first day’s events, Mike Lindell spoke on a small stage in the vendor area and rambled into the microphone so loudly that the sound system was peaking and I couldn’t hardly make out a single word he said. Meanwhile, hundreds of people packed into lines to fill their plates from the open buffet.
3. Disgraced former professor and election fraud huckster David Clements, who spoke at the conference, was confronted by a Q-Anon friendly congressional candidate Josh Barnett. I filmed a portion of the confrontation, during which the latter accused the former of “not knowing the definition of common lawyer” despite being a lawyer. A third guy, who I was unable to identify, accused Clements of being a member of “antifa” — as if that were the worst possible insult. Meanwhile, actual white nationalists prowled the halls. I never found out what the argument was about. Some things are better left mysteries.
4. The merchandising opportunities were endless, everything from Freedom Trucker Convey shirts, to books of Trump’s tweets, to Bedazzled purses in the shape of .45s, they had it all. Because, you know, he’s the 45th? Get it?
5. According to a video posted by an attendee, folks with access to the VIP room were treated to a complimentary McDonald’s buffet before Trump’s speech. People paid $7,000 for Gold level VIP tickets. The Silver level tickets ran for $3,000. Both levels sold out.
6. One speaker, an AM Radio host from Memphis, Tennessee, started his speech with some comments that were so racist and transphobic I thought I had been transported to an episode of The Boondocks. “My personal preferred pronouns are fried chicken and collard greens,” he said. He went on to say the Mayor of New York calls him a cracker, but he prefers “saltine American.” (Just a reminder, this was at CPAC, which — of the two conferences this weekend — is the one that claims to object to overt racism.)
7. One panelist said he’d become a born again Christian, then in the same breath, said he had been at January 6. I’m not sure what chapter and verse he was referring to there.
8. Outside of CPAC on public property, what appear to be a group of accelerationist neo-Nazis gathered for a small picket. Conservative commentary site RedState weighed in to reassure you that their presence wasn’t a big deal.
9. While trying to talk his way into the white nationalist AFPAC conference, Orlando comedian Uncle Big Tim says he was threatened with arrest by local law enforcement. When he eventually returned with a ticket, one sheriff made him repeat “I will be on my best behavior” four times in a row.
10. On the way to check out the situation at the Orlando World Center Marriott where AFPAC was held, I took a wrong turn and ended up having to drive through Walt Disney owned properties. Walt Disney himself, incidentally, once hosted Leni Reifenshtal, Hitler’s favorite filmmaker. Kind of poetic, ain’t it?
11. I wasn’t kidding before. Kevin Sorbo attended one of the special dinners in a blue suit lined with fabric that prominently featured his tweets. Because hey, you’ve got to show it off when you’re the author of sweet takes like “Bill Gates: The same person who says the world is overpopulated wants to save your life with a vaccine.”
12. Candace Owens said that everything has gone downhill since “feminist” education in the 1970s began encouraging girls to pursue a career when they grew up instead of focusing solely on supporting their husbands. Schools “said to women ‘don’t stay at home. Go be like a man. Go to work. Why would you want to stay in the kitchen. Don’t make him a sandwich,’” Owens explained to the crowd.
13. Mercedes Schlapp defended Marjorie Taylor Green’s presence at CPAC despite having also appeared at the white nationalist AFPAC conference, saying she would not “cancel” Taylor Green. As I wrote in my article that came out hours before her comment to Corbin Bolies at The Daily Beast, “Denying white nationalists and their allies access to your platform sounds a lot like ‘cancel culture’ to a movement up in arms over Twitter and Facebook doing even the most limited of content curation.”
14. After pleading ignorance about the deeply racist and facistic qualities of the AFPAC conference, Taylor Green proceeded to share clips of her speech from and shared a 14 tweet thread defending her actions. “Weird to waste fourteen tweets when fourteen words would’ve said the same thing,” quipped historian Kevin M. Kruse, alluding to the “14 words,” which has been described by the ADL as a reference to the popular white supremacist slogan.