by Sam Levin
Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown at the center of the Missouri State Fair controversy, has developed a large online following, as we noted earlier this week. Turns out, his celebrity was only just beginning and has since skyrocketed -- in the last few days earning him praise from high-profile pundits and politicians across the country.
In addition to his massive following of supporters on Facebook -- on his own personal pages and on a fast-growing "Support Tuffy Gessling, Professional Rodeo Entertainer" fan page -- Gessling has gotten love from a congressman in Texas and, unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck.
At the very least, his celebrity showcases how quickly a local story can spread -- and how the controversy at the Missouri State Fair is one that gets folks on both sides of the issue very riled up. The NAACP, for example, is calling for multiple federal investigations.
See also: - Mark Ficken, State Fair Announcer in Obama Rodeo Scandal, Says Reports Are Wrong - Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown Identified, Permanently Banned From Performing - State Fair Controversy: Mark Ficken Resigns As Rodeo Cowboy Association President - State Fair Clown Tuffy Gessling Gets Huge Online Following After Obama Stunt
Gessling is, of course, the rodeo clown who put on an Obama mask on Saturday night and did a short skit in which there was talk of a bull running down the President -- which many in the crowd reportedly enjoyed. One attendee, however, was outraged, and blew the lid on the story Sunday with photos, videos and testimony of the performance which he argued was clearly racist, offensive and inappropriate for a taxpayer-funded event.
Since the story went viral, the announcer during the skit -- who argues he did not make the controversial statements in question -- has resigned as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association. And Gessling has been banned from performing at the State Fair forever.
The controversy, however, seems to be working out pretty well for him.
Here's Glenn Beck on Gessling.
"It's a rodeo clown. Let me say it again: It's a rodeo clown at a state fair. Now here's how you react to a rodeo clown at a state fair. He's a rodeo clown at a state fair!" Beck says, before doing his impression of the elite left. "It's a rodeo clown wearing a mask."
"Look at what is happening to the rodeo clown," he says, adding that people who attend state fairs are "clear-thinking, commonsense farmers, cowboys, straight-ahead Americans. That's who is going!"
Meanwhile, Congressman Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas, has gone out of his way to defend Gessling -- and even invited him to come perform in his state.
Some samplings from his official Facebook page.
And the Support Tuffy Gessling page, which claims to be run by a fan who has the clown's blessing and has been in contact with him, now has, as of this writing, a whopping 68,899 likes -- and is growing each minute.
This is in addition to a Support Tuffy Gessling White House petition page, which was created by a Texas resident and has more than 1,000 signatures.
The Facebook page has a range of posts, some arguing that the outcry against this clown is hypocritical. For example:
And now there's Tuffy merchandise:
Some other images of support that have popped up in his Facebook pages:
Maybe Tuffy the clown should run for office!
Missouri Rodeo Clown 2016— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) August 14, 2013
Gessling has generally been quiet (and has not responded to Daily RFT's requests for comments).
He has offered short apologies, but most recently, on his performer page, thanked supporters... and showed them how much his web traffic has increased!
Close-up of those stats:
Continue for more from the clown's fans via our earlier coverage and the videos from the fair that originally sparked the whole controversy.
Here's Gessling's short apologies:
Here are two short clips provided by attendee Perry Beam whose account sparked the whole controversy:
And some Twitter support:
'Like' Tuffy Gessling Rodeo Performer and tell him we support him! via Facebook #MoStateFair— Cindy Who (@wh_cindy) August 12, 2013
Can't believe liberals went after a clown. Fired Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown Tuffy Gessling Permanently Banned http://t.co/GsVuGzyPuQ— John Gort (@JohnGort) August 12, 2013
Here's a statement the St. Charles GOP posted on Facebook:
Give me a break! I love how liberals find racism around every corner. The mere fact that it gets dark at night is racist to some.
People have been lampooning public officials for years. I recall when my son was in martial arts, they had a Halloween party for the kids -- one of the older kids at the time, probably 13 or so, donned a George W. Bush mask and walked around dragging her knuckles and picking her "nose" as she paraded around proudly -- obviously a household thought process that came from her labor union member father.
I thought it was tasteless, too.
But where is Show Me Progress and Daily Kos ANY time Bill Maher takes to the airwaves? Or Chris Matthews?
These people are doing nothing to trying to draw attention to themselves.
Some of the comments on the Show Me Progress site are actually coming from public officials, one democrat state representative says, "I am both angered and disgusted by the blatant racism that was displayed at the Missouri State Fair. It is appalling that the Fair organizers would allow such a distasteful display. This is an embarrassment to the People of Missouri. I will not support future funding for an event that will condone racists acts and is so blatantly disrespectful to the President. Clearly racism is alive and well in State of Missouri. I never imagine that I would see this type of display in my state in 2013."
Another person posts, "I felt like I was at a Klan rally..."
How short your memories are ...
And from some of the outraged elected officials via our earlier coverage:
The @MoStateFair celebrates Missouri and our people. I condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS the other night. We are better than this.— Peter Kinder (@PeterKinder) August 11, 2013
From State Rep. Caleb Rowden, another Republican:
I don't agree w/ this Prez on many things. But he is deserving of respect and shouldn't be the object of political stunts. Out of line!— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden44) August 11, 2013
From Tishaura Jones, St. Louis treasurer and former Democratic state rep:
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill fired off this statement in response to the hoopla last night:
If what's being reported is true, then it's shameful and it's unacceptable. The State Fair is funded by taxpayer dollars, and is supposed to be a place where we can all bring our families and celebrate the state that we love. But the young Missourians who witnessed this stunt learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse--that somehow it's ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt, and joke about harming the President of our great nation. Missouri is better than this, and I expect someone to be held accountable.
U.S. Congressman Lacy Clay:
I am amazed that in 2013, such hatred, intolerance and disrespect towards the President of the United States could take place at the Missouri State Fair.
Our fair is supposed to showcase the best of Missouri, instead, it showed an ugly face of intolerance and ignorance to the world.