Josh Duggar didn't turn out to be the champion of family values that some right-wing conservatives thought he was, and Bill Maher is using him as an example of why it's a bad idea to turn people into celebrated "instant heroes" before taking the time to find out if they're really deserving of praise.
During his "New Rules" segment on Real Time, Bill Maher pointed out that numerous conservative heroes have turned out to be "embarrassments." According to Salon, Maher's list of folks who became famous for fighting for their beliefs included former reality show star Josh Duggar, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, tea party mascot Joe the Plumber, and gun rights icon George Zimmerman.
Maher explained how each of these champions of the far-right failed to live up to their hero status. Kim Davis claimed that she was standing up for the sanctity of marriage by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but she's been divorced and remarried multiple times. Cliven Bundy made racist comments after refusing to pay grazing fees and engaging in a standoff with federal agents. Joe the Plumber wasn't actually a plumber. And George Zimmerman "had more contact with the police than Dunkin' Donuts" after he was celebrated for shooting Trayvon Martin.
Maher then turned his attention to Josh Duggar, who once worked for the Family Research Council, a Christian organization that's known for its stand against gay marriage and abortion.
"Josh traded on his family's image to work as a lobbyist for the ultra-conservative Family Research Council," Maher said. "And all of the presidential candidates wanted a picture with him. Until it turned out he had two Ashley Madison accounts, had paid for rough sex with porn stars, and had molested his sisters. Although to be fair, molesting your sisters could be considered family research."
You can check out Maher's segment about Josh Duggar below.
It might not be quite accurate to label Josh Duggar an "instant hero" like the other people mentioned above -- he and his family members were beloved reality TV stars for many years before he started working for the Family Research Council. According to ETonline, Josh landed his position as the Executive Director of FRC Action in 2013. This did significantly raise his profile, and he started rubbing elbows with prominent Republican politicians, many of whom would go on to become GOP presidential hopefuls.
Great meeting today w/ @ScottWalker! He has a very passionate vision for America. #OurAmericanRevival #2016 pic.twitter.com/PiB7MfiSzt
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 19, 2015
Great to visit w/ my friend @GovMikeHuckabee this morning in DC. Thankful to have his voice on the #2016 stage! pic.twitter.com/qN2FiyadVf
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 16, 2015
Happy Birthday to my friend @RickSantorum -- I appreciate your courage standing for truth! pic.twitter.com/P4cGVt6T4F
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 10, 2015
Great meeting today w @SenTedCruz. He always conveys passion for America & the importance of faith, family & freedom! pic.twitter.com/SvBjBw1GXV
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 6, 2015
Good to catch up with @govjebbush this morning in DC. pic.twitter.com/r7cqjb7aTxJosh's connection to the Family Research Council was purposely downplayed on 19 Kids and Counting, according to TLC Spokesperson Shannon Martin. According to ETonline, Martin said that TLC decided not to focus on Josh's "professional life." Earlier this year, Think Progress reported that much of Josh Duggar's work for the FRC entailed fighting against marriage equality. In addition to speaking out against same-sex marriage, he argued against enacting laws that would protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination.
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) January 21, 2015
Josh Duggar lost his position as a political power player in May of this year. According to People, he resigned from the Family Research Council after In Touch Weekly obtained a police report that documented Josh's sexual molestation of his sisters when he was a teenager.
"I deeply regret that recent media reports about my long ago past has brought negative attention to FRC Action and its work to preserve and advance the interests of family, faith, and freedom in the political arena," Josh wrote in his resignation letter.
Three months later, Josh Duggar's name was found amongst the massive list of hacked Ashley Madison accounts. He admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, Anna Duggar, and he checked into rehab. According to Us Weekly, FRC President Tony Perkins released a response to Josh Duggar's confession.
"His deceitful behavior harms his family, his friends, his former coworkers, and the cause he has publicly espoused," the statement read. "Those of us who advocate for family values in the public square are held to a higher standard, and Josh's failures serve as a painful reminder of the destructive effects of not living with integrity."
While Josh Duggar may be down, he might not be out. If he can convince his fans that he's a changed man after leaving rehab, he may be able to regain his hero status, and there's a chance that he can use his redemption story to score lucrative book deals and speaking gigs. Duggar family fans are used to hearing the Duggars talk about the forgiveness, so it's not that far-fetched to believe that 19 Kids and Counting fans might eventually forgive Josh Duggar for being a bad "instant hero."
[Image credit: 19 Kids and Counting Facebook]