So how did he grow up to be such an intolerant, hate-baiting jerk?

This sounds like it’s got to be a spoof, but it’s so weird it could also be true. Karl Rove’s adoptive father was a cover model … for a magazine about genital piercing. That’s fine by me, it’s just that it does make me wonder what’s going on in Karl Rove’s head — an honest biography of the man would be fascinating.


  1. Fnord Prefect says

    That story sounds apochryphal. Why would a gay genital-piercing enthusiast adopt Karl Rove and, presumably, shack up with whatever jackal spawned him?

  2. says

    After reading about how Rove is making more comments than ever, it made me wonder: does anyone care. I mean, really.. the people who need to be educated the most are the rural inhabitants that don’t read newspapers, don’t watch TV/the news, and aren’t educated enough to even make a truly informed decision. Unless you’re a pundit or a Faux News actor, I don’t think the Republican base even knows what he’s talking about. It’s all about A. god, B. abortion, and C. homosexuals to these people.

  3. raven says

    Rove’s real father was gay and left the family to go live in California for some reason. For whatever that is worth.

    I doubt the leadership and the politicians who manipulate the Death cultists believe in anything. Except their own power and wealth.

  4. says

    I find that the right wingers who are the loudest in their outcries against sexual stuff are the most “sexually deviant” (by their own definition) but in the closet. It’s really pathetic.

  5. Gex says


    I agree. I wish the cultists would spend more time living THEIR lives according to their beliefs and spend less time trying to make me live according to their beliefs.

  6. Jeb, FCD says


    It’s not character assassination by association (I forgot, right wind-nuts do think that way). The valid question is the title of this post.

  7. bernarda says

    Harbison, “it’s a despicable piece of attempted character assassination by prurient association”. That is assuming that Rove has a character to assassinate.

  8. Hank Fox says

    Character assassination? Uh, does anybody REALLY hold Rove in high regard? So that, like, saying something snarky about him would injure his reputation?

    From what I’ve read, even Bush calls him Turd Blossom.

    If anything, the piercing community should stand up and say “Hey! We’re not associated with HIM!!”

  9. says

    It’s not a spoof. The Jim Ward mentioned in the article is a casual friend of mine, and he confirms it directly. There should be an interview with him about it going up on BoingBoing in the next day or so.

  10. says

    (1) This has nothing to do with Karl Rove or his politics
    (2) It’s not really anybody’s business and
    (3) It appeals to the lowest level of human prurience.

    Next time I hear the left pontificate about privacy, or Swift-boating, I’ll recall this post, and thread, and snicker. This is the last comment I’ll post on this so-called ‘science blog’.

    Now I’m going to wash my hands.

  11. says

    I’m not sure where Gerard is getting this swift-boating thing. If anything, this post makes Rove a little more human to us all. We’re going to try to see him as more of a human being and less of a caricature of a hate-baiting jerk (though until he proves otherwise, we’ll still think of him as that).

    Maybe it comes across as bad because you think there’s something vile in having a gay, piercing-loving father. I don’t think most of us think that. There is nothing derogatory in the original article either.

  12. Carlie says

    I agree that Gerard has missed the entire point of the post. It’s not “Karl has a pierced adoptive dad and that makes him bad”, it’s more “Hm. He obviously hasn’t been that sheltered his entire life, so why is he such a close-minded bigot?”

  13. frog says

    I guess Gerard believes that PZ believes that being a married gay genital piercer is somehow sinful or evil? I guess Gerard ain’t too bright!

    Now, if PZ was saying that KR’s father was a fundamentalist preacher, that would be character assassination by association!

    This is like those folks who were “upset” the Kerry mentioned Cheney’s gay daughter – once again, only character assassination if the speaker believes that gayness is a sin. Otherwise, simply a fact, one that is interesting because of it’s relationship to the subjects own political viewpoint.

    But since so many righties seem to be autistic, par for the course.

  14. Abbie says

    I really don’t think anybody here is going to think less of Karl Rove because his adoptive father was into genital piercing. Maybe conservatives will find this scandalous, but I think our interest in this solely in the irony/hypocrisy.

  15. Kseniya says

    Frog, Gerald is plenty bright, believe me.

    Gerard, you may be right to say that it’s inappropriate (perhaps even pointless) to speculate about this, but aside from that, as others have suggested, I think you’ve misread this one.

    If may be worth examining King Aardvark comment, for I agree that it seems the only person who thinks the alleged activity of Rove’s adoptive father is supposed to reflect negatively on Karl’s charcter is… well… you.

    Try this hypothetical sitution on for size:

    Joseph Mueller’s father was a steel worker and a life-long member of the steelworker’s union who, unlike many of his peers, marched with Martin Luther King and protested the Vietname war. It kinda makes you wonder how Joe turned out to be an unscrupulous conservative ideologue!

    Of course this isn’t quite the same thing, for the Rove piece does make a rather lurid claim, but it raises a question, in much the same way and for much the same reason, analagous to the question posed by PZ up top.

  16. says

    To swift-boat a liberal, you need to twist the facts.
    To swift-boat a conservative, you only need to report their past (or quote them accurately).

  17. woozy(well maybe not 'indiscreet' so much as ... loud) says

    (1) This has nothing to do with Karl Rove or his politics
    (2) It’s not really anybody’s business and
    (3) It appeals to the lowest level of human prurience.

    Next time I hear the left pontificate about privacy, or Swift-boating, I’ll recall this post, and thread, and snicker.

    These three points would be valid if the point were to whip up a scandal about Rove. Had the article been that Rove’s father was an African Ivory Hunter who donated his body to the Smithsonian, the article would be nothing more than a celebrity interest story which, not being a fan of Rove’s I doubt PZ would post.

    Likewise were Rove’s policy utterly neutral on homosexuality and homosexual marriage, this story would still by nothing more than a celebrity interest story which I doubt would interest PZ. (Although Gay fathers and models for genital piercing magazines is a tad bit a exotic and titalating, you seem incapible of not seeing it as a slur. I see it on par with being an African Ivory Hunter donating one’s body to the Smithsonian. Both are exotic and titilating to me. The former, to me, is a bit indiscreet. The later, to me, is of questionable ethics.)

    However as Rove’s policy are decidedly anti-homosexuality this implies a strong contrast in Rove’s upbringing and Rove’s adult believes. This is of interest.

  18. says

    I don’t get it. I don’t think it’s at all bad for Rove to have had something of an exhibitionist for a father — it actually makes me think there’s more to him than the Turdblossom/Bush’s Brain/Evil propagandist image would make you think, and it really makes me curious to know how he got to the place he is now.

    I also don’t it’s particularly prurient or bothersome. His adoptive father sounds like he was probably a reasonably sex-positive fellow, and if he was posing for magazine covers, it’s not as if he was ashamed of himself.

  19. Hank Fox says

    Lest we forget: There’s STILL the question of just who approved that gay escort character Jeff Gannon for a White House press pass, and reportedly frequent after-hours access.

    Googling “Jeff Gannon” just now, I came on a link for a capture of “Jeff Gannon’s Washington” headlined with “Jeff Gannon, Washington Bureau Chief and White House correspondent for Talon News syndicated columnist and talk show host …”

    Glancing at the Talon News homepage, I find a top story “Rove Forced Out By Looming Homosexual Scandal,” which claims “Jim Gannon, former reporter for Talon News and rent boy, is publishing a ‘tell all’ book in September tentatively titled ‘Behind Enemy Lines.’ Karl Rove apparently fears being exposed as a former customer of Gannon’s …” and “It has long been rumored that Jim Gannon gained White House briefing room credentials and day passes by offering his services to Karl Rove, including several overnight stays in the White House Buchanan bedroom.”

    If Jeff Gannon’s real name is James Guckert (as has been said), I can see the discrepancy between “Jeff” Gannon and “Jim” Gannon in the above, but the rest of that … whew. If it’s true, it’s incredibly Byzantine.

    And to those of you being oh-so-careful not to smear poor, poor Mr. Rove with such ugly and distant innuendos, just when is it going to get through to you that some of these people in the White House are truly evil bastards? Yeah, it matters a lot whether such claims are true or not, but it also matters that FAR too many of us are willing to give them a pass even on the true, and truly nasty, stuff. Don’t run away from it before you check it out.

    Plenty of people are dead thanks to the labors of people like Karl Rove. America is divided to the core for the years of smearing politics this “boy genius” has visited upon us. Rove is no innocent little angel deserving of truckloads of “benefit of the doubt.”

    If a claim is made about Rove, I say talk about it. Vigorously look into it. And if some of it’s true, do to Rove exactly what he’s spent his career doing to others: Say it out loud, and in public … and even, if you personally feel it appropriate, gleefully.

    If your entire career is based on coming up with brilliant new ways to smear shit on others, don’t expect to walk away smelling like a rose.

  20. Lunacrous says

    This only counts as “character assassination” if you subscribe to the twisted point of view where there is something evil or sinful about Louie Rove. Besides which, wouldn’t anyone involved with this administration have to be caught eating nuns or something to actually look worse than they already do? It’s a bit tricky to assassinate someone’s character when they’ve already murdered it so thoroughly themselves.

  21. frog says


    I hadn’t speculated about Gerard’s “brightness” — he may be a mathematical genius, for all I know. But that’s quite distinct from this particular case, which is about intentionality.

    For example, it is perfectly fair for a non-Marxist to point out that Engels was funded by his father’s cotton trading business (supported on the back of slave labor), which he then funneled to his buddy Karl. That would be completely different from someone within their circle spreading rumors that Engels was a “crypto-capitalist infiltrator planted by his father.” Intentionality is the huge difference. The former is an interesting light on the personal motivations underlying his intellectual causes; the latter is a knife in the back, character assassination by association.

    That distinction requires an ability to read others’ minds, which is not synonymous with “brightness”.

  22. Kseniya says

    Anyways… It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to think of reasons why a son doesn’t wind up a carbon-copy of his father, adoptive or otherwise. A man who despises his father will put a lot of effort into trying to avoid following in his father’s footsteps. However, it’s Karl Rove’s apparent love and admiration for Louis Rove that makes the contrast between them a little more striking.

    Ethical considerations aside for the moment, it’s worth pointing out that it’s hardly necessary to drag Rove’s family into the picture to cast aspersions on Karl’s character. Karl has provided us with more than enough material for that all on his own.

    For example, though I have compassion (rather than, say, scorn) for Karl and his family knowing that his fathers both left and that his mother took her own life, my feelings about that don’t make him a better (or worse) person. Karl’s actions speak louder than anything his parents or siblings may have been or done. He’s a sneaky, unscrupulous bastard who is clearly willing to subordinate any principle in the pursuit of power.

    It’s hardly unusual (or inappropriate) to wonder what goes in to the making of such a man, especially when the man has had an impact on the politics of the world’s most powerful nation for over a quarter-century.

  23. gex says

    It’s the same old conservative two step. They can bash gays all they want, discuss homosexuality, politicize it, whatever.

    Liberals, pointing out that some conservatives simply KNOW gay people (Mary Cheney, Rove’s father), are roundly criticized by conservatives for neutrally pointing out a fact. Nevermind that the liberal doesn’t mean it as an insult. The conservative, with their world view, simply turns it into an insult on their own.

  24. says

    Well, some expectation of privacy. I don’t think it’s fair to go poking into politician’s bedrooms, for instance.

    I think, though, that putting close-up photos of your body modifications on the cover of a magazine contradicts any expectation of privacy, however.

  25. Kseniya says

    Frog: Okay… I think I understand. When you said, “I guess Gerard ain’t too bright!” what you meant was, “Gerard misread PZ’s intention.” If that is the case, I agree, and either way it seems we agree that Gerard succumbed to a knee-jerk conservative assessment of the post, one rooted in the commonly-utilized tactic of using allegations of gayness to besmirch.

    Regardless, I prefer to believe that Gerard, rather than being dim, evil, or ideologically hide-bound, may in fact have been – to put it quite simply – mistaken.

  26. stogoe says


    Besides which, wouldn’t anyone involved with this administration have to be caught eating nuns or something to actually look worse than they already do?

    It’s much worse than that. Eating out a nun* is nothing.

    They’d have to beat infants to death with puppy corpses, and then barbecue it all and serve it to orphans and vegans, at least.

    *If it’s consensual. Although, I guess they’d former nuns at that point…

  27. frog says


    Yup – often in posting, a wide brush is used too quickly (by me). My point was about “autism”, not intellectual brightness. And I find it interesting that among lower level conservatives (clearly not their leadership), you often find a very narrow ability to empathize.

    Often conservatives don’t “mean” to be evil. They honestly can’t understand their opponents viewpoint. It also occurs among liberals, but rarely as thoroughly (excepting, of course, statements in anger or desperation).

    That also leads to the kind of disconnect that you see between conservative leadership and followers. We have the examples of Rove and Cheney. Both are obviously great at reading minds (ethical considerations aside). They are both perfectly comfortable with “others” – gays, Muslims, etc. And they use this talent to great effect among their constituents, who are much more limited in this particular faculty (not in others), to manipulate them while still protecting their private loves. (Used car sales writ large).

    It’s been a defining characteristic of protestant fundamentalism and their allies for centuries since the German princes used it as a wedge against the Catholic bureaucracy.

  28. NC Paul says

    How is this a character assassination of anyone?

    The elder Rove sounds like he’d hardly be ashamed to be discussed in this light, as his appearances on magazine covers shows.

    Rove the younger is only shown in a poor light perhaps by an accusation of hypocrisy (did he approve of or condone Rove Sr’s lifestyle?). That’s hardly character assassination.

    It’s not as if anyone claimed that Rove Jr was into genital piercing. Even if he was, it’s not the genital piercing that liberals would find objectionable (many so-called conservatives, on the other hand…), but the hypocrisy, which would be an entirely valid criticism.

    If you’re going to decry homosexuality and other “deviant behaviours” (which no real conservative should, since they used to staunchly defend the rights of people to do as they will in private), then it’s not unreasonable to point out any parts of your private life that might give lie to your public actions.

    Really, Gerard, I think you’re being somewhat thin-skinned about this. Quite apart from the politics of it all, it’s a fascinating story on a human level. As for your comments that this is a so-called science blog, Pharyngula’s strap-line does have the dreaded L word in it, so even if PZ had any obligation to stick to a set menu of topics (and he doesn’t), political comment would be on there (right next to the wasabi octopus).

    Finally, if this story does turn out to be true – it’ll be in an entirely different category to Swift-Boating, which is the use of lies to assassinate an opponent’s character, a tactic that Rove Jr cultivated and condoned in his long career as Bush’s Brain (go ask John McCain).

    And the rest of y’all – Gerard is not stupid and to say so is wrong and unfair. He has a different political viewpoint, but has shown his commitment to science and reason quite astutely here in the past.

  29. raven says

    George H.:

    (2) It’s not really anybody’s business and

    When you are voluntarily on the cover of Genitals Today you are making yourself a public figure. When you are Karl Rove, smear artist extraordinary, destroyer of people’s reputations by lies and innuendo, you are making yourself a public figure. Comes with the territory.

    (3) It appeals to the lowest level of human prurience.

    Huh? I didn’t find it particularly interesting and certainly not prurient. A bit pointless in a whacky sort of way. But genital piercing just isn’t my bag, I guess. Try living on the WC and this sort of thing seems mundane, LOL.

    1) This has nothing to do with Karl Rove or his politics

    Ah but it does. It has everything to do with his and the theocratic wingnuts and their politics. I think the main point here is not that Rove has an unusual stepfather but the hypocrasy of the xian cultists like Haggard, “I’m not gay anymore”, Jeff Gannon “male escort for sale”, the congressman from Louisiana with his prostitute habit, the other one from Florida (Foley?) with the thing for young boys and on and on. These people are no better than anyone else, just more sanctimonious and hypocritical about it. If anything they may be worse than average.

  30. says

    Gerard is not stupid and to say so is wrong and unfair. He has a different political viewpoint, but has shown his commitment to science and reason quite astutely here in the past.

    That may be the case, NC Paul, but in this situation Gerard is willfully choosing to ignore testimony by the very people he’s impugning about their own intent. I don’t think sweeping away evidence like that shows commitment to reason.

    If you’re going to accuse a group of people–with whom you hold differing opinions–of lying or being ignorant of their own malicious intent, you’ve got to give well-evidenced reasons for those assertations.

  31. blinker says

    PZ is a bore. if he’d talk about biology more, i’d read the blog more often. The the comments are even more boring. Get a life. There has to be more useful things to do than strut around showing off all the hair on your free thinker chests in the comments to PZ’s bloviations

  32. phat says

    I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.

    Adlai Stevenson

  33. woozy says

    PZ is a bore. if he’d talk about biology more, i’d read the blog more often.

    Boy, that’s surely an incentive.

    The the comments are even more boring. Get a life. There has to be more useful things to do than strut around showing off all the hair on your free thinker chests in the comments to PZ’s bloviations

    Well, there might be more useful things to do the strutting around the comments section showing off our hair but strutting around the comments sections showing off that you aren’t strutting around the comments showing off your hair certainly isn’t one of them.

  34. paul fcd says


    You think that Karl Roves father’s actions “has everything to do with his (poltics) and the theocratic wingnuts and their politics”?

    Are you sure about this? Do you think that Haggard and Gannon’s actions were influenced by their politics? Or their Xtianity? It’s hard to tell from your comments.

    paul fcd

  35. phat says

    Karl Rove is not a Christian. I don’t believe he ever has been. It’s pretty clear that he is an atheist, actually.

    He has used the Christian right-wing to gain power for the people he works for. He only cares about their faith insofar as it gets Republicans elected. The current Republican party leadership don’t actually care for anything more than power.

    In this process I think he disrespected and insulted the man he considered his father (Louis Rove adopted him). It’s about as disgusting as it gets.


  36. Bruce Baugh says

    A while back, some blogger I read – Digby, I think – speculated that Rove is gay and has a lasting crush on Bush Jr. That made sense to me, and still does. I have an elderly gay friend who talks with a sigh about stupid things he did for the sake of a decades-long unrequited crush on a classmate and co-worker he knew was straight and he knew he wasn’t the type to go poaching, but where he just couldn’t give it up until unrelated griefs forced him into a general reexamination. Now he feels that he wasted far too much of those decades trying to help out the object of desire, not nearly enough of them helping himself, either professionally or personally, say, by seeking out a relationship with reciprocity in it. Unlike Rove, my friend is a decent, honorable guy who’s an asset to his family, friends, neighborhood, and nation. But anyone is capable of mind-boggling stupidity and a lot of it under the right circumstances.

    A lot of movement conservative leaders really seem to like their sex squalid and dirty, or at least to need it that way. They have sordid affairs, they engage in sleazy behavior in public parks, they dump their wives in painful and needlessly abusive ways…in such an environment, there wouldn’t be much incentive for a gay man with an unfulfillable crush to seek out a healthy alternative, and all the incentive in the world to seek solace or distraction by (for instance) carrying on with a prostitute passing himself off as a reporter, much to the grins and giggles of everyone on the inside.

    This could all be dead wrong, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  37. says

    English is not my mother tonge, however, i’ll try to explain my position about this. Sorry in advanced because of the gramatical or ortographic mistakes, I’ll do my best to explain myself correctly :-)

    I’m in the same position as Gerald, I mean: i don’t think that talking about the sexual life of the father of anybody is a good argument for refutate any opinions.
    This has nothing to do about thinking that “to have a pierced adoptive dad makes him bad” or that “there’s something evil in having a gay, piercing-loving father” as somebody wrote.

    It’s something more basic:
    ¿Is there any EVIDENCE about that those photographs corresponds to his father? ¿Is there any EVIDENCE about that Louis Rove (that wasn’t a politician) wanted to do public his sexual orientation? or just ¿Is there any EVIDENCE about that this man was homosexual? ¿Can he protest if someone write something wrong about his life?

    Nothing to do about valorate if there is something evil or saint in homosexuality or penis piercing. Anyone could have their own opinion and there is a lot of ways to argument any position, more atheistic, more goespelistic (does this word exist ;-)?), more biologically, more creationistic, more hetero, more homo, etc, etc, etc.

    But I think that it’s not fair to use a gossip not fundated in any evidence, of a dead man that can not explain his own position about the discussion.

    This post and the link of that webpage give the gossip (as it’s a gossip, because there is not any evidence) a lot of relevance, and gives it the aparence of proved reality (“If a lot of people read it, comment about it or if PZ write about it, it has to be real, so we can think as if this is real: how bad person is Karl Rove that thinks the homosexuality is evil, in spite of his lovely homosexual dad”). Don’t sound this as “how evil is PZ that thinks Religion is evil having been created by our Graceful Father”? This is not an argument, he can be a bad person because a lot of things, any other argument is better, based in logic or demostrated truth. But based in the supossed sexual life of his father???

    Is not about if there is something good or bad in having holes in the penis (auch!), is about giving credibility to a disrespectful article that maybe is a gossip.
    (And it seems to me to be a disrespectful article because if the owner of the photographed penis decided to never gave his name, for me nobody has the right to write about it. It’s disrespectful. Doesn’t matter if the writer said that he was a great person or if he assures that was his friend. I wouldn’t like anybody talking about my sexual preferences in public, less if that can hurt my sons. It’s an ugly and dirty low blow.)

    Anyway, I think this post is just an human mistake of a valuable man who is angry with another. I will keep your blog in favorites, PZ. And this comment does not mean that I’m not grateful with all of you for fight against irrationality. Because I am :-).

    Sorry again because of the mistakes, If I’ve said something disrespectful it is because of my bad english, sure! ;-P

  38. says

    Ah, but there’s part of the problem here: nobody is saying Rove’s political opinions are refuted because his father had genital piercings — that has absolutely no bearing on the merits of his politics.

  39. Karl Rove II says

    “So how did he grow up to be such an intolerant, hate-baiting jerk?”

    He LOVES power…so he’s willing to do whatever needs to be done.

  40. says

    Maybe I didn’t express myself correctly, because I didn’t pretended to write about if “Rove’s political opinion are refuted or not because his father had genital piercings”, I was trying to write about that surely that his father had genital piercings is false.

    Ok anyway, you didn’t wrote about his political opinions, you was writing about his way of being an “intolerant and hate-baiting jerk”… ok. There is nothing objective there and your position is clear. This is true.

    I wrote my comment above because I think that it’s necesary to be careful in the way we use the truth and respect, we shold mark the difference. I think there are some limits that we can pass but we shouldn’t, because perhaps pass them undermine our opinions or positions.

    Doesn’t matter if all this is about Rove personality, about Rove political opinions, about Rove sexual orientation, about how much is Rove a son of a bitch… For me is a matter of bad taste to mention the (surely falses) sexual details of a dead man to ilustrate it.

    But, anyway, I use to respect your opinions, and normally I like a lot your way to be satire. This is a little discrepancy in the sea of nearby evaluations of your readers. A little grain of pepper in the salt shaker…

  41. phat says

    It’s beginning to look like this story is true.

    Nobody on the “left” or opponents of Karl Rove “outed” Louie Rove.

    It’s not as if his homosexuality is a new story. That came out in a biography of Rove a while ago. The new part is the piercing thing. And the fact that he posed for the covers of a magazine dedicated to body-piercing is interesting. It’s not a smear.

    And the only reason it might be more than just interesting is because Rove has used people’s bigotries to get Republicans elected. If he weren’t such an obviously cynical manipulator of people’s hatred of homosexuals this would be a footnote. Which really, it already is.

    If the Republican party weren’t beholden to the bigoted right-wing, this wouldn’t be considered a smear by anyone.

    If pointing out that someone who panders to the Christian right is an amoral cynic is a smear well than we’ve got bigger issues to worry about.