Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Opinion: Unterman fires back at Samantha Bee, House members

This morning, my colleagues at the Political Insider blog shared with you the latest dust-up between state Sen. Renee Unterman , R-Buford, and TBS' alleged humorist, Samantha Bee. The star of "Full Frontal" slammed Unterman last year for blocking a bill to speed up the processing of rape kits (and then slammed her again months later for promoting a good bill that helped fund crisis pregnancy centers). The latest video, which aired Wednesday night, tells the story of how the rape-kit bill wound its way through the legislative process to become law anyway.

Suffice it to say, I'm not one of Bee's fans. But since it's relevant to this story, here's the clip that restarted her feud with Unterman:

Well, shortly before the Senate broke for lunch on this 40th and final day of the session, Unterman fired back. The audio I recorded is too bad to post here, but I was able to transcribe a good bit of it:

"If you don’t know her, I don’t suggest that you look her up, because she’s vile, and the language she uses is so awful. But I appreciate her, because you know what? I have a red-meat Republican district, and the more she criticizes me with the Hollywood/Hillary Clinton/(Nancy) Pelosi mantra that she spews, I can tell you that it does me more good than it hurts me."

But Unterman didn't stop with Bee. She took note of the fact Bee's latest shot at her included interviews with state Rep. Scott Holcomb , D-Atlanta, who sponsored the bill that led to last year's brouhaha between her and Bee, as well as the speaker of the House, David Ralston:

"One thing I don’t appreciate, and you hear a lot about fake news and fake comedy, is the fact that she put on there House members. And I tell you, I served in the House for four years. But some of the language that is on this video, including the F-word, I just don’t approve. (Note: In the above video, Holcomb briefly recalls a conversation he had with Ralston last year: "He asked me directly, 'What the f--- is wrong with Renee?'" He also recalls worrying time would run out before he could make a motion to pass a final version of his bill, and telling the member speaking in the well to "Shut the f--- up!")

"And I don’t care who you are or what you are, I think you deserve respect, I think you deserve courtesy. You may not agree with me, and the fact that I come from that red-meat Republican district, but everyone in this room and across the hall, and especially our constituents, we deserve respect. And there is no respect. ... But I’m surprised that the House and the speaker allowed this to take place, and that there is not condemnation about it, because I know this man standing behind me (Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle) … if something happened to any of the 56 senators in here, this man right here would be Johnny-on-the-spot. And he would be standing up for you, no matter what kind of district you represented, and no matter where you came from, because he has that integrity."

But that wasn't all. Unterman returned to the theme of the day  in the Senate, which is the House's blocking some of the Senate's highest-priority legislation even as the final hours of the session tick away:

"Most of y’all know my son died a few years ago now, and if it weren't for the Senate and the man standing behind me (Cagle), I’d have never gotten through it. So a lot of you ask me, Renee, why are you so aggressive? Renee, why are you so persistent? (She then described her persistent efforts this year to push for legislation boosting mental health, saying it's just as important as physical health.)

"And you want to know why I feel that way? Because I had to walk down the steps of my pool house, go downstairs and literally scrape up my son, because he had killed himself. And when you do something like that … you either survive, or you go the way my son did. And it’s a terrible, terrible thing. And it's our mission in this body to talk about child sex trafficking, human sex trafficking, slavery, and methal health issues, and we have that passion that I have in my heart and my soul. And just because of an opaque political process, on the 40th day of the session, we cannot take care of children and adults who have issues like my son had. I appeal to you, I appeal to the speaker ... if we save one life, with our (work) here in the Senate about mental-health issues, we can literally save the world. ...


"Why would we put the political process before a person’s well-being? … It’s nothing but petty politics, just like Samantha Bee in Hollywood, trying to tell us what to do in Georgia, that we cannot move our bills. Our bills are important. I’m pleading to you, and I’m pleading to the Speaker of the House, please, please, please, let these mental-health bills get through."

A spokesman for Ralston declined comment. Here's Holcomb's response:

"The clip was to highlight a positive result in the face of unfounded opposition to an important piece of legislation. Her opposition was widely chronicled -- in the AJC and elsewhere."

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.