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Shawn Vestal: Shea finds questioners in Poland more to his liking

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, asks a question during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on proposed gun control measures Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Olympia, Wash. Shea’s particular brand of politics has struck a chord with a far-right Polish nationalist group, which interviewed him recently. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

Good news, everyone: Matt Shea has found a couple of interviewers he apparently doesn’t consider too dirty, godless or hateful to answer.

Unfortunately, they’re 5,000 miles away, in another hemisphere, speaking Polish.

They do like MAGA hats, though. They want to make their country “great again” and they’re down on “fake news.” And they’re convinced that the American president – a twice-divorced serial philanderer who can’t correctly cite a scripture and pays hush money to a porn star – is a symbol of ascendant Christian righteousness in the U.S. and potentially the world.

“We want to put Christianity back into politics,” said Pastor Pawel Chojecki, of Against the Tide TV, in one of the many videos he and his team produce online. “The power of the United States is based on the Bible and the God of the Bible.”

Which could not be any more up Shea’s alley, of course.

I couldn’t suss out the particular connection that brought Shea to give a phone interview to Against the Tide. Shea never answers messages seeking comment, and attempts to connect with Against the Tide were unsuccessful. But it’s pretty clear: Chojecki might be half a world away, but he and Shea are ideological neighbors.

“There needs to be religious liberty all over the world,” Shea said on the show, which was conducted in English. “There needs to be religious liberty, especially for persecuted Christians. They’re being persecuted in China, they’re being persecuted in the Middle East, they’re being persecuted all over the world.

“We need to support countries, we need to recognize religious liberty in all of our policies, and we need to do it here in the United States of America, too, where we’ve had a wane of religious liberty in some policies here, and so this is all over the world.”

Shea’s long record of conspiratorial fear-mongering, gun worship and anti-government and end-of-the-world proclamations have done nothing to blunt his electoral popularity in the Spokane Valley, but they’ve begun to catch up to him in other ways.

His recent comments referring to journalists as “dirty, godless, hateful people” at a gun-rights rally drew widespread criticism, especially given that he was, ludicrously, a member of the task force created to examine the Legislature’s response to a judge’s order to start following the Public Records Act.

He lost financial support after news emerged that he was circulating a strange screed called “The Biblical Basis for War,” which included talking points such as “When is the time for war? When God says it’s time …” And he lost his leadership position in the House GOP.

All of which might hurt Shea’s brand more if his brand weren’t mostly untethered from such earthly considerations. He technically represents the Spokane Valley, but it’s long been clear that he seeks, and has built, a constituency that is less geographical than ideological.

He puts on patriot road shows, giving last-days speeches about the coming economic collapse and the tyranny of the BLM and the importance of laying in plenty of ammo; he speaks at gun rallies and patriot gatherings all over the Northwest, and helped form a group of like-minded Western state far-right lawmakers that go under the acronym COWS; he produces a podcast on which he once shamelessly smeared the sheriff as linked to a murder; he interferes in far-right spectacles such as the Bundy standoffs; and he exerts himself constantly in service of placing Christianity and gun rights at the center of politics, always just one syllable away from coming right out and declaring support for a theocracy.

He’s the recent target of complaints to state regulators that he spread some of the money he raised to run for office in this state to right-wing groups elsewhere that are unregistered as charities in this state – which would be a violation of campaign finance law if true.

He wants to create a 51st state in Eastern Washington, outside the pernicious influence of West Side leftists, though it’s a preposterous idea that exists primarily to prompt credulous stories in the media. (It’s fun, though, to imagine the city of Spokane, with its increasingly leftward tilt, as the capital of a State of Liberty, which would probably provoke Shea and his fellow travelers to immediately begin working to form a 52nd state with the capital in Veradale …)

He’s more movement leader than people’s representative, and that movement has its partisans all over the globe.

Chojecki and his Against the Tide TV are definitely part of the movement. The video blog is stridently anti-communist and Polish nationalist, and they seek a “political, economic and spiritual” alliance with Christian America. Many of their concerns center around economic proposals involving China, to which they are vigorously opposed.

Some coverage in Polish media has focused on infighting among the principals of the organization and accusations that it operates like a cult. The far-right John Birch Society is a big fan. One Polish news article called Chojecki and a former co-host “the most eccentric pair in the right-wing Polish videoblogosphere.”

Chojecki is passionately supportive of American conservatives, fawning over President Trump and urging people on Twitter to “Vote Republican” – in Polish – before the midterms.

He supports a free Taiwan, in opposition to the position taken by his country’s government, and that was the primary focus of Shea’s brief interview.

“Taiwan is an independent country and should be treated as such,” he said, to vigorous agreement.

Shea may be losing some steam in the Washington Legislature, but among his true constituency, he remains a star.

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