The California senatorial race is being played out to the strains of Don Henley songs. In 2008, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a righter-than-right GOP candidate for Barbara Boxer’s seat, thought it would be cute to release “After the Hope of November Is Gone.” DeVore’s not particularly witty blast at Democrats was sung to the tune of Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” over a karaoke track, and contained such clumsy knee slappers as, “Out on the road today, I saw a OBAMA sticker on a Cadillac.” He followed it up with “All She Wants to Do Is Tax,” an equally lame poke at Boxer’s cap-and-trade policy borrowing the tune of Henley’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.”
Don Henley was not amused. He went back and forth with DeVore over whether the assemblyman’s video violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and finally took him to federal court to resolve the issue. So while DeVore should be busy running his fairly robust campaign (he’s a teabagger, natch), he’s spending time and money fighting an aging rock star in court. As he writes in his blog for noted conservative shit stirrer Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood,
My campaign for U.S. Senate has raised about $1.8 million. The last five independent polls since January have placed me within the margin of error of Barbara Boxer. And the Henley lawsuit drags on, consuming time and money and shutting down a vital avenue of free speech that I intended to use in the course of my campaign. We expect a summary judgment on the case in May, just before the June 8 primary. If we win, our parodies will be back and I will likely write others. If we lose and go to trial, then lose in court, the implications will be far-reaching. For example, Paul Shanklin’s parodies on the Rush Limbaugh Show will be shut down as infringing on the copyrights of the owners, rather than transformative works of free speech protected by the First Amendment as they are now considered.
Truth is, they’re both wrong, although Henley’s wronger. The only thing worse than lame parodies like DeVore’s is trying to suppress them. The best thing Henley could do, if he actually gives a hoot, would be to write a sharper and funnier song in retaliation.