Mike Pence Swings By In-N-Out For Some Anti-Vax Culture Wars

Culture Wars

Mike Pence is still trying to make his way back on the good side of Donald Trump's MAGA mob. Thursday, Pence tweeted photos of himself looking incredibly comfortable and authentic outside a California In-N-Out restaurant.

Pence wrote: “In California and had to stop at In-N-Out Burger!" He included an American flag emoji because he's so damn patriotic. That's why he needed Dan Quayle to talk him down from supporting a coup.

In-N-Out has great burgers and demonstrably terrible fries. We also make a point of stopping there whenever we're in California, but Pence isn't just showing his support for a local business. He's throwing down a gauntlet in the ongoing culture war over public health.


San Francisco ordered restaurants to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining. The In-N-Out located at Fisherman's Wharf was temporarily shut down when officials learned the restaurant wasn't complying with the law. In-N-Out claimed the guidelines for indoor dining were clearly marked. However, anyone who has paid attention for the past year knows you can't rely on the honor system. Restaurants must affirmatively confirm vaccination status for indoor dining for the safety of the customers and community.

Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out's chief legal and business officer, disagreed and released an insulting statement comparing the vaccination verification requirement to segregation, which is classic Fox News blather.

"As a company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all customers who visit us and making all customers feel welcome," he said. "We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government."

Wensinger called San Francisco's mandate unreasonable, invasive and unsafe for employees to "segregate customers" into groups who can and can't be served.

"We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business," he said. "This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper and offensive."

In-N-Out's leadership doesn't exactly hide its conservative religious and political beliefs. It's a lot like Chick-Fil-A, but based in a state people assume is uniformly progressive. That's a mistake. The company has donated heavily to the California Republican Party, most recently $40,000 in August (yes, after the January 6 insurrection). CEO Mark Taylor and his wife Traci have donated at least $15,000 to Donald Trump and the GOP since 2016. Traci Taylor is the half-sister of company owner Lynsi Snyder. Is there a thin line between “humble family business" and a nepotistic organization happening here? Could be maybe.

The “we serve everyone" argument is especially offensive considering conservatives often claim their religious beliefs are under attack if they're forced to serve gay and trans people. Ignoring the vaccine verification policy isn't a kumbaya expression of inclusion, because people who care about their health will stay away.

In-N-Out has now reopened for outdoor dining and takeout. That's a reasonable compromise, we guess, but Pence still wanted to troll local government. It looks like he ordered a double-double and some fries while unmasked inside the restaurant. Who cares about public health when there are libs to own?

When Colin Powell died Monday, Pence tweeted the following:

Colin Powell was a true American Patriot who served our Nation with distinction in uniform, as a four-star general, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and as 65th Secretary of State. Karen and I are praying for his wife, Alma, and the entire Powell family.

Powell died from Covid-19 complications; while vaccinated, he was immunocomprised. The vaccine verification policy would've permitted someone with Powell's condition to more safely eat indoors. However, Pence supports businesses like In-N-Out that would apparently rather cater to selfish assholes.

Pence's statement about Powell was respectful and seemingly written by a human, so nothing at all like what Trump puked onto a keyboard. Defiant burger runs aside, Pence has a ways to go to match Trump in the repulsiveness his party demands.

[San Francisco Gate]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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