By coincidence, I just happened to be watching Full Metal Jacket when I read this post from Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters. R. Lee Ermey, who delivered a masterful — and mostly improvised — performance as a Vietnam-era Marine Corps drill instructor in the film has built an impressive career with his tough-as-nails persona, including a memorable GEICO commercial as a less-than-sympathetic counselor. TMZ caught up with Ermey at an airport, and he says that GEICO fired him shortly afterward for criticizing Barack Obama:
After being asked about his GEICO commercial wherein he played a psychiatrist calling his patient a “jackwagon,” Ermey said, “GEICO fired me because I had, I wasn’t too kind about speaking with the, about the administration, so the present administration. So they fired me.”
“So they fired you because of political reasons?” asked the TMZ representative.
“Yeah,” Ermey answered. “If you’re a conservative in this town, you better watch out.”
Noel dug up what appears to have been the issue for GEICO:
R. LEE ERMEY: I got to tell you, folks, we’re having a big problem this year. The economy really sucks. Now I hate to point fingers at anybody, but the present administration probably has a lot to do with that. And the way I see it, they’re not going to quit doing it until they bring this country to its knees. So I think we should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing, because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. And I’m sick and damn tired of it, and I know you are too. But I know the Marine Corps is going to be here forever – this administration won’t. Semper Fi. God bless you all.
Hey, it’s GEICO’s money, and they can hire or fire whomever they want as their spokespeople. But I don’t think it’s going to look very good to have dumped Ermey for speaking his mind on politics, in an obviously passionate but hardly objectionable manner. The ad he cut, which Noel has on his site, was hilarious, and had some potential for a series of ads that would certainly have been no less entertaining than pigs that go “Wheeeeee.”
How much do you want to bet that Ermey got fired by phone rather than in person?
Update: To be fair, commenters remind me that they fired the voice of the gecko, too, over his political expression. In that case, though, it was significantly weirder and targeted at potential customers rather than a politician.