It all started simply enough.
On Fox News' "Red Eye with Greg Guttfeld," Tuesday's 3:00 a.m. show began with ombudsman Andy Levy poking fun at Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder: "Remember when we used to live in a world where no member of Congress had ever skinny-dipped in the Sea of Galilee? Well, those days are over."
It was a story both significantly less important and enormously more entertaining than an almost simultaneous firestorm prompted by a witless and divisive comment about rape made by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin in his Senate race against Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
The far more interesting Yoder story quickly became "Red Eye" fodder and the focus of the entire show. If not a candidate for a Harvard Case Study, it was, at the very least, a wonderful example for the publicity lecture circuit.
78 mentions on national teevee
Think about this: If you were a publicist, would you be satisfied with getting your client's name on national television 78 times (lots positive, some sorta sideways, but very few outright negative)? Late at night, but national, nonetheless?
We've all had clients who say something like, "All I want you to do is get my name in the paper." They should be careful what they ask for; you can get that outcome by pushing someone off a tall building.
And apparently, you can get the same result by skinny-dipping in an Israel freshwater lake prominently mentioned in Christian gospels.
He's so hot!
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the object of all this attention was rated one of the "hottest freshmen in Congress" in 2011.
Often in politics, and sometimes in the entertainment industry, the feeling is, "Say what you want about me, but spell my name right."
Eight "Red Eye" graphics spelled Yoder's name correctly, and they ran one video clip of the Congressman.
But on television, spelling the name isn't as important as saying it. And they did. Again and again. And again.
Yoder and his doings took on a life of their own as quick-witted Guttfeld and "Red Eye" regular (panelist, writer, producer, and the object of many of Guttfeld's jibes) Bill Schulz played oral ping-pong with his name and made-up-on-the-spot variants: Yodering, Yodes, Yodester ...
The count: Schulz, 32 mentions; Guttfeld, 24; the rest of the panel, 14.
No Forced mention of Yoda
Yes, Yoder's name or a variant was mentioned aloud 70 times (plus eight more on-screen graphics), scattered throughout the one-hour broadcast. The only two things they didn't find a way to work in were Yoder-Eaters or that Force-ful, little 900-year-old "Star Wars" gnome.
Guttfeld: "I don't think we'll ever be able to get Yoder on the show after today."
Schulz: "Yoder IS the show!"
For the record, "Red Eye" was able to get through the entire Wednesday a.m. show without mentioning the name Yoder once.