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Country Star Collin Raye Sings for Evolution-denier Mike Huckabee; No Dixie Chicks Redux Anticipated

01/23/2008 03:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The January 23rd Austin American Statesman reports on its website that Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee plans a February 9th barbecue/rally in liberal Austin, Texas featuring a performance by country music singer Collin Raye.

I realize that some country acts -- certainly not most -- are of the evanginut stripe, but I thought it was curious positioning on the part of Raye to professionally align himself with such a candidate. Preacher Huck believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that wives should submit to their husbands in all decision-making, that creationism should be taught in public schools. That sort of thing.

To find out more about the singer's thinking, I emailed Raye's personal manager in Nashville, Pat Melfi. Pat has served as a board member of the Country Music Association and as director of the Academy of Country Music. He's an established figure, and he emailed back, suggesting that his client is not exactly endorsing candidate Huckabee: "{Raye} is performing at an event and there is a huge difference."

Still not clear as to why Huckabee, I emailed the head of Raye's West Coast-based management, well known industry giant Ken Kragen. No slouch, Kragen managed Kenny Rogers, Trisha Yearwood, The Bee Gees and Lionel Richie at the height of their fame. He's produced numerous film and TV projects over the years, and was anxious to respond to my query. He suggested that Raye's involvement was more than simply a performance:

"Collin and Huckabee are personal friends. Collin was born in Arkansas and has known Huckabee for years. Collin would probably not want to get directly involved in the Huckabee event but I am sure he felt he couldn't turn him down. Collin is, however, very religious and conservative. As a liberal Democrat I certainly don't agree with him but absolutely support his right to his beliefs and opinions. In general I advise my clients to stay away from politics but this situation was personal. Ken Kragen"

So there we have it. It's personal, and everyone is entitled. After all, Bruce Springsteen sang for John Kerry in 2004, and even Frank Sinatra openly campaigned for John Kennedy against Richard Nixon in 1960.

Yet apparently everyone is not entitled. In 2003, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks made an innocuous comment about George W. Bush, saying merely that she was ashamed he was from her native Texas. Rather than being treated as personal opinion, the offhand remark unleashed a torrent of negativity from both the country music radio industry and right-wingers in the hinterland.

They couldn't touch The Boss or 'Ol Blue Eyes, but beating up on the Chicks was considered fair game. Songs were pulled from rotation on corporate airwaves, conservative talk radio had a field day, and death threats rolled in. It was punishment, in no uncertain terms.

The band was in Europe when the story broke, leading to metal detectors at concerts once they hit the stateside leg of the tour. Big audiences, big tension, too.

There will, of course, be zero fallout from Collin Raye's personal decision to publicly lend his support to an extremist like Mike Huckabee.

Hypocrisy abounds.