Tim Pawlenty’s Strange Obsession With Talladega Nights


Generally boring presidential hopeful and Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty once saw the occasionally funny Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and he loved it so much that in March of 2007, seven months after the movie was released, he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it was his favorite "recent movie." But there is one scene in particular that holds a special place in Pawlenty's heart: When Ricky Bobby, the NASCAR driver played by Ferrell, thanks God for his "red-hot smoking wife" during grace. Pawlenty really loves that line. Even years later, he would apply it to his own wife during campaign appearances around the country — over, and over, and over again.

During fund-raising dinner for the Iowa GOP in November of 2009:

Going further than perhaps some in the Midwestern crowd are used to, though, the governor also noted that he was joined at the dinner by his “red-hot, smoking wife,” Mary.

During another appearance in Iowa on December 10, 2009:

Later in the speech, Pawlenty compared himself to Ricky Bobby, the coarse, clumsy NASCAR driver played by Will Ferrell in the comedy “Talladega Nights.” In one scene, Bobby prays to God for Doritos and Taco Bell before thanking the Lord for his “red hot smoking wife.” “I’m like the Talladega guy,” said Pawlenty. “because I want to thank the Lord for my smoking-hot wife.”

During a fund-raiser for Republican state senators in New Hampshire on December 17, 2009:

Pawlenty came with his wife, Mary, whom he introduced as "my red-hot, smoking wife," quoting a line from actor Will Ferrell's movie Talladega Nights.

And finally, in Iowa again this past weekend:

“I’m very thankful for my red-hot smoking wife, the first lady of Minnesota,” said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, pointing to his wife, Mary, who was standing a few feet away.

Some candidates like to quote the Founding Fathers. These days, many Republicans are fond of quoting Ronald Reagan. Tim Pawlenty will campaign for president across the country for the next two years repeating a line from the forgettable 2006 movie Talladega Nights, and that is weird.