Background: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

"Fox & Friends" weekend co-host Pete Hegseth raised eyebrows and a Twitter fuss Sunday with his surprising claim on national television that he doesn't wash his hands, because after all, germs aren't real. It's unclear whether his nasty hygiene means he's no longer welcome to have dinner with his purported pal Donald Trump, a BIGLY germophobe.

The stupid all got started when Hegseth's other friends on the couch, Ed Henry and Jedediah Bila, made fun of Hegseth for eating some pizza left over from the day before (Newsweek dutifully noted that Saturday was National Pizza Day, and included a link to its own coverage of the occasion). Hegseth insisted there's nothing wrong with nomming day-old pizza, because "Pizza Hut lasts for a long time."

Ms. Bila worried Hegseth was likely to "take a chomp out of" any food "that's not nailed down." So Hegseth decided to speak his truth as he saw it:

My 2019 resolution is to say things on air that I say off air. I don't think I've washed my hands for 10 years. Really, I don't really wash my hands ever! I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can't see them. Therefore they're not real.

Bila made a big show of being grossed out, adding, "So you're becoming immune to all of the bacteria." Hegseth exclaimed, "Exactly! I can't get sick!"

Bila did a theatrical eye roll and replied, "My dad has that theory too."

Now, it would be easy to dismiss this as mere tomfoolery from a guy who of course has to know germs are real, because we are living in a modern technological world where people know things. Then again, Fox News has never been a hotbed of science. Remember Bill O'Reilly challenging an atheist to explain how the tides come in and go out, because God? Then when the atheist offered some preposterous "Moon" speculation, O'Reilly trumped it with "How'd the Moon get there?" See also the time Fox News wondered why sharks insist on living in the ocean. See also Fox wondering whether the metric system makes airplanes fall out of the sky. See also Tucker Carlson explaining wind energy is a scam, because wind turbines can't heat your house. See also any Fox News discussion ever of climate science ever. Or Ebola. Or even Basic Fucking Math.

So honestly we have NO IDEA whether Hegseth is completely serious here, or whether he's just taking the piss and not washing after. He very amusingly tweeted that he was a NeverWasher later in the day:

Presumably he showers, so soap occasionally comes in contact with his hands. Heck, maybe his hands were all soapy that time he threw an ax and hit a drummer instead of the target.

It's also worth noting, of course, that Edward Ecoli-hands was, less than a year ago, among Trump's top candidates to run the Veterans Administration, because he'd run the astroturf groups "Vets for Freedom" -- it's a PAC, not a charity -- and "Concerned Veterans For America," yet another big beneficiary of the Koch Brothers lobbying empire. The Washington Post reported last year Hegseth was so very concerned for America that his desire to privatize the VA was very influential with Cadet Bonespurs, who loves the vets very much indeed.

Hegseth has been a confidant of Trump's, who watches his Fox News show and frequently calls him to discuss veterans' policy. Hegseth has dined at the White House and, during an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Shulkin last week, the president called Hegseth to seek his counsel on pending legislation that would expand private care.

Hegseth also chided then-VA Secretary David Shulkin for not being excited enough about privatizing healthcare for vets (which Republicans like to call giving them "choice"), saying Shulkin had "talked a good game on Choice [...] But he's sided with the permanent bureaucracy, the traditional veterans' groups and the unions." You know, the non-libertarian-funded vets' groups that want the VA to provide services to vets without funneling money to private docs and hospitals. How un-American! Opposition from those veterans' groups would have almost certainly sunk any Hegseth nomination, so instead Trump went with the doctor who said Trump wasn't overweight, and everything was just fine.

Newsweek points out that Donald Trump may have a different opinion about the value of hand-washing, since in 1993 he told Howard Stern, "I like cleanliness. Cleanliness is a nice thing. Not only hands, body, everything." Does that mean no more private dinner invites for Hegseth?

Trump usually believes everything he sees on Fox, but we can't see him dropping one of his deep-seated phobias just because he heard it on Fox.

But you never know! At press time, Trump was mulling over appointing Hegseth to head the Centers for Disease Control, but thinking just to be on the safe side, he'd send Mike Pence to the swearing-in.


[Newsweek / WaPo / The Wrap]

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