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A freshman congressman from Louisiana will pay an electoral debt tonight when he entertains one of the stars of the controversial A&E cable series Duck Dynasty as his guest for President Barack Obama‘s fifth State of the Union address.
The annual speech to a joint session of congress has become an occasion for lawmakers and the administration to honor supporters or notable constituents with seats in the House gallery.
Rep. Vance McAllister‘s upset victory in a special election to fill Louisiana’s 5th District seat last year was widely credited to an endorsement by the program’s patriarch, Phil Robertson, though tonight’s guest will be his son Willie Robertson, CEO of the family’s Duck Commander sporting goods company.
The elder Robertson stirred up a roiling controversy — and was briefly suspended from Duck Dynasty, one of cable TV’s highest-rated series — after he gave an interview to GQ containing controversial remarks about gays and African-Americans.
Phil Robertson based his endorsement of McAllister, a businessman and former oil services executive making his first bid for elective office, on the fact the novice candidate had the least political experience of anyone in the race. Since returning to the air, Duck Dynasty‘s ratings have taken a big hit. The audience for the season’s second episode plunged 21 percent.
For his part, McAllister — who had never been to Washington before he was sworn in — probably hasn’t disappointed his hirsute supporters, recently telling the chamber of commerce in Monroe, where Duck Dynasty is filmed, that serving in the House “sucks.” “It ain’t no fun,” he said. “But, the day I start enjoying it in Washington, D.C., is the day that I should come home.”
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