August 10, 2010

Rand Paul and Aqua Buddha

Not long ago my college roommate Jason Zengerle wrote to me that he was in Kentucky and sent along a lovely photo of the statehouse in Frankfort. (We have a long-running joke about a coffee-table book featuring state capitol buildings stemming from an idea of my brother's years ago.) At about 27,000 people Frankfort is one of the smaller state capitals and I remembered a colorful anecdote from a high school history teacher about it being a "compromise capital," chosen because the rival cities of Louisville and Lexington couldn't settle on who was going to host the state government. Don't take my word on this—a lot of what this particular teacher told me has turned out to be wrong (cue Glenn Beck.) Anyway, nothing odd in this—as a journalist Jason travels to a lot of places in search of stories.

But a little later he wrote asking me if I'd heard of "Aqua Buddha." I hadn't and wondered what he was really doing in Kentucky or Texas or wherever he was now. Little did I know I was getting a sneak preview of a phrase that was about to raucously and joyfully enter the internet lexicon. As Jason went on to write in GQ about GOP Senate hopeful Rand Paul:

The strangest episode of Paul's time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul's teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, "He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek. I had to say, 'I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.' At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no."

Oh, bright college years. The entire piece is here. Pretty shocking stuff for a Tea-Party favorite like Rand Paul. Jason and others point out that the Rand campaign has not denied the story.

To keep up with the latest on this, follow Jason Zengerle on Twitter.

UPDATE: It should be pointed out that though the Rand camp is threatening to sue GQ over the story, GQ stands by it and the story has not been denied.

[Image modified from This Next. If you're looking for an excuse to buy a Buddha bong, this is probably the time.]

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Tricycle » At last, an interview with Aqua Buddha's picture

[...] quite a bit of intrigue surrounding Aqua Buddha—a deity that Rand Paul, a GOP senate hopeful, forced a young woman to worship during a bizarre [...]

Alan Swatt's picture

"I was at Swarthmore for a good two-and-a-half years before a professor threatened to file criminal charges against me" - Jason Zengerle:

niceidea's picture

Do kids and babies count as roommates? If so, then yes, my roommates screw up my zazen practice all the time!

Clemenza's picture

It should be remembered that freedom of religion--including the worship of Aqua Buddha--is completely consistent with Rand Paul's libertarian beliefs. The kidnapping and coercion, maybe not so much.

Twitter Trackbacks for Tricycle » Rand Paul and Aqua Buddha 's picture

[...] Tricycle » Rand Paul and Aqua Buddha – view page – cached A while back my college roommate Jason Zengerle wrote to me that he was in Kentucky and sent along a lovely photo of the statehouse in Frankfort. View page Tweets about this link [...]