Friday, March 04, 2005

Gibbons' speech plagiarism
Gibbons' speech plagiarism

15 paragraphs came from copyrighted talk by Alabama woman


As Rep. Jim Gibbons' incendiary remarks at an Elko Lincoln Day dinner last Friday began to make national news, his words drew notice for their similarity to a copyrighted speech.

The speech Gibbons, R-Nev., delivered was largely plagiarized from a 2003 address given by Alabama Auditor Beth Chapman at a Stand Up for America rally.

Fifteen of the 21 paragraphs in Chapman's speech made their way into Gibbons' prepared remarks either verbatim or in nearly identical fashion.

For example, The Elko Daily Free Press quoted Gibbons in a rant against Hollywood liberals in which he told the crowd: "I say we take those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else."

Chapman's speech stated: "Tonight, I say we should support the president of the United States and the U.S. military and tell the liberal, tree-hugging, hippie, Birkenstock-wearing, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else."

The other paragraphs are nearly identical, based on a comparison of the initial press account of Gibbons' speech and a copy of Chapman's address.

Gibbons was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon, but he issued a statement saying he got the speech in an e-mail "sometime back." "I don't remember who sent me the e-mail or when I received it exactly ... only that I found the words to be reflective of my deep concern about the morale of our troops."

Gibbons told the Elko Daily Free Press for a Thursday Web edition that he did not remember how he got the speech.

Chapman could not be reached late Thursday.

In his statement, Gibbons said that when he found out Thursday that the speech was copyrighted, he phoned Chapman to apologize. "We had a nice chat and she was very cordial and understanding," the statement said.

The state Democratic Party already has criticized Gibbons' speech for his references to abortion and statements about liberals being expendable.

"I want to know how these very people who are against war because of loss of life can possibly be the same people who are for abortion?" Gibbons told the Elko crowd. "They are the same people who are for animal rights, but they are not for the rights of the unborn."

Gibbons' wife, former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, is pro-choice.

According to the Daily Free Press, Gibbons then said liberals are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq to become human shields. "I say, it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket," he added.

In January, during an interview on NBC News, Gibbons objected to those protesting the public financing of inaugurals, saying: "Anybody who is against that obviously must be a communist."

He later apologized for the remark.

Jon Summers, state Democratic Party spokesman, said the plagiarism is "just another disappointment from Jim Gibbons."

"We're seeing from this sort of behavior why he failed to get the chairmanship in D.C. and decided instead to run for governor," Summers said.

Gibbons has formed an exploratory committee to run for Nevada governor next year. He has stated in published reports that his bid for governor was his second choice after failing to win the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee.

Two Democrats who are planning to run for governor next year described Gibbons' behavior as "extreme."

"Not only is it a bad speech," said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, "it's a bad, stolen speech."

Titus said Gibbons' comments actually will help Democrats running statewide. "I don't think most Republicans in the state are that extreme."

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, criticized Gibbons' speech on two fronts.

"Not only did he not provide any leadership in his speech, it appears that he wasn't even intellectually honest with his audience," Perkins said. "If he still has an interest in running for governor, I'm not sure Nevadans will want somebody who's not going to be honest with him."

Gibbons also is facing opposition from within his own party for the gubernatorial nomination.

Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, a Republican who has announced her bid for governor in 2006, said she was at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Elko and was surprised when she heard Gibbons' remarks.

"I truly believe it's important at this time that leaders bring people together and not be divisive," Hunt said. "At the same event I quoted Abraham Lincoln."