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The Mystery of Jesse Helms 

Originally written by Hal Crowther, Oct. 27, 1990

On the eve of Jesse Helms' fourth election as the state's most controversial senator, columnist Hal Crowther wrote a brilliant piece on the hideous Helms' appeal to so many North Carolinians. "Try to think of him as a dreadful pet, a mascot, something like a huge pit bull, useless and vicious, that sits in its own mess at the end of a tow-truck chain and snarls at everything that moves. 'Ain't he a pisser, though?' the owner says with pride."

Crowther takes no prisoners in describing the cluelessness that fueled Helms' victories. "Naturally Helms votes against education. Education in any form is his enemy. This isn't merely the ignorance that breeds racism or religious bigotry that he's counting on; this is the more profound, the abysmal ignorance of animals and plants."

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Crowther's piece was so popular that Creative Loafing ran it again six years later, when Helms won his fifth (and, thankfully, last) Senate race. And continuing the connection between the "left-leaning, uber-literate, erudite man of the world" Crowther and the "far-right, ill-informed, race- and gay-baiting provincial" Helms, CL ran a Sept. 21, 2005 cover package titled "Saint Hal and the Hellraiser," which examined the careers of both men at a time when each had a new book coming out.

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