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Roy Moore v. Doug Jones: A contrast in candidates

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday evening in Montgomery, U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones stepped out of a downtown restaurant, where he was meeting with a group of local educators and lawmakers about “education issues,” to speak with reporters.

It was endearingly uneventful.

There were no threats. No cameramen were shoved. No one screamed at reporters. No one disparaged large groups of Americans. No one poked fun at anyone else. And everyone seemed pleased, if a bit bored, with the entire thing.

It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in weeks: A candidate for U.S. Senate actually acting like a candidate for U.S. Senate.

Jones came out and wanted to discuss issues. Things like education and jobs.

(Speaking of jobs, if the Jones campaign doesn’t spend the remaining time until the Dec. 12 election hammering the fact that Roy Moore is a job killer — someone who could chase away relocating companies with his archaic, embarrassing social stances — everyone on that campaign should never work in politics again).

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Anyway, Jones answered a few questions, said Roy Moore isn’t fit to run for any office because of his tendency to get kicked out of office and then went on his way.

I kept waiting on someone to get hit with a chair or something.

But no, just a regular ol’ media session with a guy running for Congress.

Meanwhile, to the south of us, the Roy Moore Holy Rolling Dumpster Fire and All-Star Grifter Brigade made a stop in Theodore, at the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church, which sounds like the name that an author not from the South would give to a Southern church in a novel.

Things went a tad differently there.

First, the “rally” was more of a church service, with the tax-free church allowing a candidate for U.S. Senate to stand in the pulpit and tell everyone why they should vote for him.

It did not go smoothly, starting with the music portion. As the media and voters took out their hymnals, they likely didn’t realize that the man leading them in song was the Rev. William “Bill” Atkinson, a longtime pastor in the Theodore area.

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I’m guessing that no one from the Moore camp bothered to Google the speakers, because if they had, they would have quickly learned that Atkinson was convicted in 2012 of obstructing an investigation into sex abuse at a Honduran orphanage he and his family operated.

According to an story from 2012, Atkinson’s oldest son, Will Atkinson, was suspected of molesting several orphans. A different son, Jonathan, discovered the abuse and set up a surveillance system that caught his brother committing the acts. Bill Atkinson ordered his sons to destroy the evidence and attempted to quickly defund and shutter the orphanage. When Jonathan refused to go along with the scheme, he told that his father disowned him and cut off funding to the orphanage.

A jury in Theodore found him guilty. And after a brief prison stay, he returned home to apparently become the only male member of the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church with the ability to say, “open your hymnals to page ….”

And of course, the embarrassments didn’t end there.

A couple of hecklers were booted from the church during Moore’s speech, with one loudly asking if the entire town was lying about Moore’s past. Because by now, with the mounting allegations of his apparent preference for teenage girls when he was a 30-something man, most of the town would have to be lying.

But such things did not faze Moore.

He went right ahead with usual spiel about how the gays, lesbians, “transgender mafia,” socialists, communists, establishment Republicans, liberals, Democrats, drug pushers, terrorists and the entire cast of “Hamilton” are against him.

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He referenced some phony story about how the accusers — the real women whose claims Moore has still been unable to refute with any piece of evidence — were linked to the illegal drug trade. That’s right, Leigh Corfman is a secret plant of Pablo Escobar.

It’s so absurd, you have to ask yourself repeatedly if this is real life.

But then, there was Doug Jones, just chatting quietly with teachers about things that matter. Not crazy at all. Just eating barbecue and being normal.

How on earth is this race still in doubt?

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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