And the Republican Party still can’t figure out why they keep losing elections…

hankFor some time, the national libertarian community has been paying attention to the Free the Hops movement in Alabama.  A brief overview provides:

Of the Top 100 beers of the World at, a renowned beer review site, 98 cannot be sold in this state. Why is our choice so limited?

Currently, Alabama is one of only three states in the country that limits alcohol by volume (ABV) for beer to only 6%, and the only state that limits beer containers to a size of no more than 1 pint (16 ounces).

Free The Hops drafted the Gourmet Beer Bill to modify existing laws to allow more specialty and gourmet beers in Alabama. Specifically, the Gourmet Beer Bill would raise the limit on ABV in beer to just below that of wine. Free The Hops presented the Gourmet Beer Bill to the Alabama Legislature in 2006 and 2007 and has presented it again for 2008.

Right now, the bill is being held up by one authoritarian imbecile in the State Senate.  Here’s the scoop:

Republican State Senator Hank Erwin has been an outspoken opponent of this bill.  Instead of letting it go to a vote, he places his moral code above the legislative process. Erwin has been filibustering the bill and plans to continue until this legislative season ends.

Erwin’s strange views on morality have already placed him in the national spotlight.

“New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness,” wrote Erwin about why Hurricane Katrina hit. “It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God.”

According to stories I’m hearing today, Senator Morality doesn’t mind breaking his word when it gives him political leverage.  Two reliable sources close to the Free the Hops effort have relayed pretty much the same story to me.  According to them, a Free the Hops lobbyist approached Erwin about not filibustering the bill.  Erwin had a gun rights bill he was pushing and a deal was cut: Erwin wouldn’t filibuster the gourmet beer bill if the lobbyist would support the gun bill.

As I hear it, the lobbyist did push hard for the gun bill, but it failed anyway.  Now Erwin isn’t holding up to his end of the bargain.

Not that I’m suggesting that anyone give Senator Erwin a call at his home number of (205) 620-0116 or pop him an e-mail at, but I just did.  While I’m still riled up over the issue, I do feel a bit calmer after completing the call.

Erwin is such a joke that I reserved a special place for him in my recent lineup of dumbass Alabama politicians.   However, the joke could be on Alabama, as Erwin has recently announced his intention to run for Lt. Governor in 2010.  I don’t think he’ll win, as I know too many Republicans who’d cross party lines to vote against him.  This video clearly indicates how loved he is even in his home district.

Photo courtesy of The Birmingham Free Press

  • Merf

    “Gambling, sin and wickedness?”

    Um, by the effect that Hurricane Katrina had, I think that it would probably be more accurate to say that He wanted to punish Welfare recipients. After all, Mississippi got hit hard, too, and they recovered just fine. The casinos were up and running in less than a month.

    Or maybe He wanted to punish Texas, as so caused the human equivalent of a plague to come infest some of the largest cities.

    After all, He would know what He was doing, wouldn’t He? He has a good grasp of cause and effect, better than Hank, at any rate.

  • Merf

    Okay, I watched the video. “This is a campaign of Light verses Darkness . . . .”

    Didn’t South Park already do this episode? The one where Satan wanted to keep Kenny alive, (on life support), and the angels wanted him to die?

  • Stephen Gordon

    Funny you bring up SouthPark. I had some lady tell me (second comment from the bottom) I’m going to hell for this article and I used SouthPark and Saddam imagery to jab her back.

  • Nick M.

    Are there ways to end a filibuster in Alabama? I’m thinking, maybe someone challenges him to a duel, or maybe someone just walks down to the podium and beats the living piss out of him like they do in Asian parliaments.

  • Stephen Gordon

    Nick, the thought of challenging him to a duel is truly tempting. Perhaps a duel of the minds would suffice, though. I’m sure I could kick his ass in such a contest with one hemisphere of my brain tied behind my skull.

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  • Brad Warbiany

    As I hear it, the lobbyist did push hard for the gun bill, but it failed anyway. Now Erwin isn’t holding up to his end of the bargain.

    Now I know he’s worthless. What good is a politician who can’t stay bought?

  • Stephen Gordon


  • Eric Dondero

    Yup, he’s a prohibitionist asshole. And as a Republican, I’m embarrassed that this guy is in my Party.

    That said, he didn’t deserve to have his campaign signs destroyed like that. I’ve been in numerous campaigns, including Ron Paul’s many congressional efforts here in Texas, where the Democrats vandalized our 4x8s. Those things can get expensive, $40 a pop.

    I’m almost sympathetic to the guy now. Though, not quite.

  • TT

    Being an Alabama resident I will say Hank Erwin is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama. Of course more than half the Alabama Legislature is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama. On the other hand more that half the US Legislature is an embarrassment to our country. OK, now I’m depressed. :::runs off to go cry in my cornflakes:::

  • Stephen Gordon

    Eric, I wasn’t saying I approved of the sign vandalism, but that it illustrates how deeply Erwin is hated in the state.

    It may not have been done by liberals, though. I know quite a few Republicans and L/libertarians who hate his guts, too — and the libertarian/real conservative group has the most active sign warriors in this part of the state.

  • Stephen Gordon

    Hey, TT — don’t cry — there are plenty of good campaigns in Alabama to support. Right now, I’m leaning strongly to Tim James and Cam Ward. We’ll also be kicking off a new B’ham City Council race over the next few days.

  • Eric Dondero

    Perhaps you should include a disclaimer in this piece saying “We do not approve in any way of vandalism and destruction of campaign signs of political opponents.”

    The article seems to imply that the vandalism was fine, even kind of cute.

    Again, Ron Paul’s opponents did this to us in the 1990s, viciously. They destroyed hundreds of our signs. Mostly done by the vicious Democrats in Victoria County, and their helpful imported thugs from Houston.

    I don’t wish campaign signs being destroyed on anyone, cause there’s not only the cost of the signs, but the time it takes to dig the ditches again with post hold diggers, hoist them up, and knock them in. 4x8s are an absolute bitch to put into the ground.

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