Honestly, I had not heard the calico cat rumor. How did I miss that? There is something about Ashcroft that makes journalists lurch over into "fundamentalist" land. There actually are some fairly interesting details in the history of his family. I wrote about this back in 2001. Note, for example, that the patriarch of the family -- J. Robert Ashcroft -- packed up to go study at New York University. Got to watch out for those narrow fundies who study at places like that.
On the morning that Ashcroft was sworn in as a senator, his elderly father met to pray with him and, in a ritual with all kinds of biblical symbolism, bless his son by anointing him with oil. The senator's father -- literally -- died during the night, hours after this emotional scene.
The Reliable Sources column at The Washington Post thought this was a riot (and so did Penthouse, which published this painting).
Clinton White House wags have dubbed controversial attorney general nominee John Ashcroft "The Crisco Kid." We phoned the folks at Proctor & Gamble . . . to ask their reaction to Ashcroft's unorthodox use of the product. A spokesperson said, "Crisco is a great moisturizer for dry skin, and people have used it as a lubricant. . . . (We) prefer that people cook with it."
Frankly, The Washington Post usually does a better job of handling religious believers than that crude gag.
When covering people like Ashcroft, it might help to imagine what it would be like if the ideological shoe was on the other foot. Like, imagine Focus on the Family doing an in-depth feature on the life and times of Elton John.