‘Watch Out for That Bull, Obama!’

     (CN) – A Missouri State Fair announcer caught up in a joke played by a rodeo clown in an Obama mask has hired an attorney to see that the media “get the facts straight.”
     The clown’s stunt during a Saturday night rodeo in Sedalia was cheered by the crowd, but has drawn harsh criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
     A rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask entered the arena and spectators cheered when someone on a public address system asked if they wanted to see Obama get run over by a bull, according to The Associated Press.
     One man in the audience told the AP it was “sickening … like some kind of Klan rally.”
     Sedalia, pop. 21,419, 190 miles west of St. Louis, is in a rural, politically conservative area.
     Mark Ficken, president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and superintendent of the Boonville School District, was the public address announcer during the rodeo. Ficken’s attorney, Albert Watkins, of Clayton, said Ficken was as surprised as anyone else at the clown’s unscripted appearance.
     Watkins said in a statement that Ficken was not the person who asked the crowd if they wanted to see Obama run over.
     Watkins claims those words were said by another rodeo clown, with a microphone. The only thing Ficken said during the incident was, “Watch out for that bull, Obama!” the lawyer said. Watkins said Ficken was trying to protect the clown from the bull.
     “Unfortunately, in this day of Internet piling on, once an outlet published an incorrect statement of facts, the erroneous attribution to my client of comments made by a rogue rodeo clown went viral,” Watkins said in the statement. “My client is now being inundated by responsive and retaliatory action, all of which is premised on a false recital of facts. It is respectfully suggested that the media needs to cut out the bull and get the facts straight.”
     Watkins added: “My client is a respected member of the community, a responsible educator and a man deeply committed to protecting his good name. We are closely evaluating the scope and viability of alternative course of legal action to remedy the situation.”
     Spectator Perry Beam told The Associated Press that he found the performance distasteful.
     “They mentioned the president’s name, I don’t know, 100 times,” Beam told the A.P. “It was sickening. It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you’d see on TV.”
     Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed with Beam.
     Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement Sunday night that young people at the rodeo “learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse – that somehow it’s ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt, and joke about harming the president of our great nation. Missouri is better than this, and I expect someone to be held accountable.”
     Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, tweeted twice about the incident Sunday.
     He wrote: “The @MoStateFair celebrates Missouri and our people. I condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS the other night. We are better than this.”
     His second tweet stated: “I love the @MoStateFair and will attend this week. I implore @GovJayNixon to hold the people responsible for the other night accountable.”
     A spokesman for Gov. Nixon, a Democrat, said the governor found the incident “disrespectful and offensive, and [that it] does not reflect the values of Missourians or the State Fair.”
     State Fair officials issued a statement Sunday that the incident was inappropriate.
     “We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday’s rodeo badly missed that mark,” State Fair officials said in the statement.
     Fair officials said on Monday that they have permanently banned the rodeo clown who wore the mask from performing at the State Fair.
     The Missouri State Fair gets about $500,000 in state money each year.
     The clown’s identity was not revealed.

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