The first tweet hurt Steve Stockman's feelings a little. It read, in full: "YOU ARE A STUPID FAT FUCK."
"I haven't actually put on any weight lately," Stockman writes in an email. "And though I'm not thin, I think 'fat' would be an overstatement."
The next few tweets, all similarly furious, were also rather upsetting until, his ego bruised and his @-replies blowing up, the L.A.-based writer, director and producer realized that he was getting tweets meant for Texas congressman, Ted Nugent BFF and masterful Twitter troll who happens to share his name.
"I get a lot of invitations to prayer breakfasts that I probably wouldn't have before," L.A. Stockman writes. That, he says, and dozens of tweets calling him some iteration of "fat bastard." "Come to think of it, there may be a connection there ..."
The 54-year-old director first became aware of the congressman last time the latter man was in office, from 1995 to 1997. "But way back then social media wasn't as big a deal, so our paths didn't cross much, publicitywise." Stockman wrote, produced and directed a movie a few years back called Two Weeks, starring Sally Field, and shot some TV pilots. He decided it'd be a good idea to purchase SteveStockman.com and later, with the advent of Twitter, pick up @stevestockman. That left the Congressman to later come up with the less-intuitive but more Prince-sounding @steveworks4you.
And that's when the director's troubles began. "When the then-Congressional candidate re-emerged last fall, I knew about it immediately -- from both sides," he says. When Congressman Stockman has an especially big news day -- taking the Nuge as his date to the State of the Union, urging fetuses to arm themselves, picking an idiotic fight with newsbeard Wolf Blitzer -- Director Stockman can count on at least 25 or 30 immediate vitriolic tweets.
This probably goes without saying, but the two men don't quite have aligning political views. "Anybody who can come up with a bumper sticker like 'If Babies had Guns They Wouldn't Be Aborted' has a certain flair for publicity I can admire," L.A. Stockman says. "But let's just say we disagree strongly about Ted Nugent's music."
Stockman has devised a polite but firm form tweet that he deploys whenever someone shows up looking to tangle over, say, whether Barack Obama really is just like Saddam Hussein. "I feel your pain," he usually writes, "but am not TX Rep." Then, in the hopes of monetizing people's immediate shamefaced apologies, he usually adds, "I did write a great book about shooting, tho." (Don't get too excited: it's about shooting video.)
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"If I could figure out a way to turn the confusion into book sales, it would be a little less annoying," he says. "But I haven't yet." And just yesterday, he discovered yet another issue: the Facebook page for Two Weeks credits the congressman as the movie's director.
"This one in particular drives me crazy, because it seems there is absolutely no way to fix it," Stockman says. "Facebook is not a ... how should I put this? ... a particularly responsive company."
It's hard to know what to say to the guy. The more batshit Congressman Stockman acts, the worse the problem becomes. I tried some sympathy. "At least your name isn't Ted Cruz," I offered.
Stockman's response was immediate: "I wake up thankful for that every single day."