Even South Carolinians admit: Yes, our state's a little weird

A prominent South Carolina Republican jokes that an escaped gorilla from Riverbanks Zoo was an ancestor of first lady Michelle Obama.

One of the state's congressmen shouts "You Lie!" to the president of the United States during a nationally televised joint session of Congress.

And then there is the governor.

Where to start?

He disappears, lies, reappears and, then, tearfully announces to the world that his "soul mate" is a woman other than his wife. His infamous Appalachian Trail lie and those jaw-dropping e-mail exchanges with said soul mate spawned a thousand late-night jokes.

No, it was not a good year to be a South Carolinian. And no one knows that better than South Carolinians, according to results from a Winthrop University poll of 837 people in the Palmetto State.

More than 60 percent of those polled earlier this month said the rest of the country had a somewhat negative or very negative opinion of South Carolina in general.

Nearly 68 percent of South Carolinians polled said the country's opinion of their state became less favorable over the past year.

"With (Gov. Mark) Sanford and all of that stuff, I believe that's affected the state's image," said Danielle Moore-Baker, a 30-year-old stay-at-home mom from Murrells Inlet. "I didn't live in South Carolina at the time, and I knew about it."

Certainly, the Sanford sex scandal was riveting fodder for political talking heads and late-night comedians. It even spawned a book by first lady Jenny Sanford, whose promotional tour put her on numerous national TV shows, serving as a sort of national reminder of the scandal.

But Mark Sanford wasn't alone in forcing the state to endure what could only be described as a political annus horribilis.

There was Rusty DePass, former chairman of the State Elections Commission, making that racist tie between the nation's first black first lady and a gorilla.

Don't forget Lt. Gov Andre Bauer, who likened people who receive public assistance to stray animals.

And there was U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, a Springdale Republican, jabbing his finger in the air and barking at the president on national television.

"My view is that I believe as a gentleman I acted properly by apologizing within one hour," Wilson said. "The president accepted the apology. To me, that chapter is closed."

Asked whether he thinks the majority of his fellow South Carolinians think his outburst hurt the state, Wilson said: "I am very grateful as I travel the state and the country for the strong support I receive."

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