Political news junkies are probably aware of the scintillating corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell.
The trial entered the bigger pop culture arena Thursday night when Jon Stewart devoted the first eight minutes of The Daily Show to the trial, and notably about the product of a Manatee County drug company.
Even those who follow the trial might not be aware that the company and the man once in charge of it, Jonnie Williams, has strong ties to Manatee and Sarasota counties. So before we get to the funny, we need a quick history lesson.
The trial coverage makes frequent mention of the drug company Star Scientific and its Anatabloc drug that was being hawked for some attention and favors from the governor. What was supposed to be a nutritional supplement was being privately pitched as a wonder drug that might have benefits for inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer's.
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After the company dumped Jonnie Williams in December, right around the timing of the indictment against the McDonnells, Star Scientific made a series of moves that included renaming itself Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals and moved from Virginia to the Roskamp Institute in Tallevast here in southern Manatee County. The man in charge of Roskamp research, Dr. Michael Mullan, would then oversee Rock Creek. Williams is still an adviser to the company getting $1 a month until the company becomes profitable. Williams was testifying as a witness with partial immunity.
Williams himself keeps the company for his private jet based at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which was loaned to the McDonnells. He also has a beautiful, large compound on Bay Shore Road in Sarasota's Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores neighborhood, a condo near IMG Academy and his Star Tobacco, which preceded Star Scientific, was based in Sarasota.
So, on Thursday's episode Stewart sought to recap the insane details of love triangles and favors in a segment, "The Giving Spree."
"That's right, Virginia is for lovers...for money," Stewart said as he placed his Dr. Evil pinky to his mouth. "But you know cold hard cash can't hold you at night and a blank check can't wipe away your tears."
He tackled the drug, Anatabloc, asking how do you make a wonder drug out of tobacco, filled with "wonder carcinogens."
"You're going to kick yourself for not thinking of this first. He nuked the tobacco in 200 Walmart microwaves," he said. "Tired of feeling bad? Try some of our highly irradiated cigarette pills.
"Apparently when you put two terrible things together it makes something great. Gonorrhea is terrible, but when you mix it in a Crock-Pot of dog vomit, it's transformed into a healthy part of any child's breakfast."
He later asks if there's anything weirder for this quid-pro-quo. Oh yeah. At an event where McDonnell was endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president, Maureen McDonell told Ann Romney, according to the indictment, that the drug could cure her multiple sclerosis.
"How do those two live with themselves?" Stewart asked. "I guess it's easy thanks to: Forgetulex. From the makers of Anatabloc. The herbal supplement guaranteed to wipe out the memory the time you trivialized a woman's debilitating, incurable disease so that a whacked-out supplement huckster would buy you a watch. Foregetulex: It's made up of crushed-up heroin needles and bed bugs."
Well, the watch part is real. Earlier during the trial, the jurors got to handle a $6,000 Rolex bought for McDonnell as part of the $165,000 in gifts the former governor and first lady were showered with.
Next, he moved onto the supposed love triangle where Williams said he didn't know Maureen McDonnell was interested in him despite texts like "I felt the earth move and I wasn't having sex!"
"How did he not pick up on the signals? Maybe because he's a crazy-eyed inventor, got his head filled with so many ideas, doesn't know when the ladies are trying to hit him up," Stewart offered before impersonating Williams. "I didn't know you liked me. I was just thinking if I put my farts in a George Foreman grill, maybe I can cure lupus. I don't know! I'm an inventor!"
"Please don't try doing that at home," he said.
The trial is ongoing and will only provide more fodder for Stewart and company.