06/27/2011 06:44 pm ET | Updated Aug 27, 2011

Late Returns: The John Waynes Of Waterloo

As far as errors involving the life of serial killer John Wayne Gacy go, I've encountered some that were much more amusing than the one that is said to have been made by 2012 presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann in Waterloo, Iowa, when she said, "John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too." As noted by everyone, John Wayne Gacy is from Waterloo. Cinema hero John Wayne is from Winterset. But the town of Waterloo has something of a claim on the latter Wayne (who was born Marion Morrison). Slate's Dave Weigel, with an assist from Alex Burns at Politico, explains:

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy was born there (though he did his killing in Illinois.) Wayne wasn't. But Alex Burns points out that Marion Morrison's parents met in Waterloo, and I consulted another Wayne bio, The Man Behind the Myth (2005), which says the same.

"Just a few years after Clyde [Morrison's] birth in 1884, his family moved to Iowa where he grew up and served an apprenticeship as a pharmacist in Waterloo. It was there that he met Molly, who worked as a telephone operator."

Politicians from County Mayo in Ireland could similarly summon the spirit of John Wayne. That's where John Ford shot "The Quiet Man," and the people of the village of Cong, home of Ashford Castle, take great pride in their connection to both John Wayne and the movie.

Which is just to say that different towns lay different claims to people of renown. For example, I live a hour from Baltimore, Md., a town which lays claim to Edgar Allan Poe -- their NFL team, the Ravens, are named for his famous poem. Prior to that, I lived in Richmond, Va., a town that lays claim to Edgar Allan Poe -- it's the home of the Edgar Allan Poe museum. Prior to that, I lived in Charlottesville, Va., a town that lays claim to Edgar Allan Poe -- he briefly attended the University of Virginia, where he gambled his way to ruin. Nevertheless, the University maintains Poe's old room on the Range as a tourist attraction. (Woodrow Wilson, who went on to become president of the United States, merits a plaque.)

Now, I've no idea what Bachmann knew about John Wayne's connection to Waterloo when she mentioned him today, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that she probably didn't actually mean to say that she would be animated by the spirit of John Wayne Gacy. (But hey, if it ends up that multiple people get serially murdered by Michele Bachmann over the next few months, you know ...my bad!)

This is probably good news for Bachmann, who'll get to complain about the nature of the media and how they have it in for her. It's also good news for Sufjan Stevens, who now knows he can repurpose his song "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." if he ever gets around to doing an Iowa-themed album.

* * * * *

Andrew Cuomo is the governor of New York and a Democrat and he set a policy goal and managed to see it through, so I guess we all need to start printing "CUOMO 2016" bumper stickers immediately. Of course, Cuomo had it pretty easy compared to the process in Washington. And it's easier to enact changes when the super-rich people who finance political campaigns want it. So, it makes sense that Cuomo is telling his staff to chill out about discussing his future plans. [New York Post]

Sarah Palin is reportedly "reaching out to activists and operatives in Iowa." She says on Twitter that she is not. One of the great unresolved matters of our times, I guess! [Politico]

Newt Gingrich says that all the "turmoil" surrounding his campaign is "irrelevant." Well, people will stop covering the turmoil just as soon as his campaign starts manufacturing something besides turmoil. [The Hill]

If you like word clouds, then here is a word cloud of Michele Bachmann's Waterloo announcement.

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