We admit it: the above photo of Andrew McLaren stopped us dead in our tracks. We really didn’t care who he was. But when we read that he was a decorated Iraq War veteran and appears in an upcoming NBC reality competition, we thought, “That’s nice.” Then we read that he was a social liberal an staunch supporter of marriage equality and we got moist.
We should have stopped there.
It turns out McLaren will appear on the upcoming NBC show Stars Earning Stripes, a sort-of souped up Battle of the Network Stars debuting August 14.
The show comes from executive producers Dick Wolf (Law & Order), Mark Burnett (Survivor) and David Hurwitz (Fear Factor), and teaches personalities like Dean Cain, Picabo Street and Nick Lachey how to execute daunting military-style missions like helicopter drops and launching missiles. McLaren was brought in to be one of the expert operatives paired with a celebrity contestant.
But in a recent interview he beamed how close he had become to his assigned “star”—First Dude Todd Palin!
“I like hanging out with Todd and Sarah a lot. They walked into my trailer, and obviously we disagree on some issues. I am a libertarian guy—socially liberal and an avid supporter of gay marriage but I am pro-gun rights and pro-life, and we made off like regular people.
I was teaching Todd how to shoot grenades, we were hanging from helicopters together 60 feet above the ground and we were swimming together with full gear on,” he enthused. “The thing that impressed me most is that Todd is a commercial fisherman in Alaska, he is pretty hardcore. He even won a challenge with a broken arm! He really earned my respect.”
That’s funny because you just lost ours.
Okay, that’s a little harsh. But then McLaren delivered the coup de grace—the classic “we agree to disagree” line:
“Todd and Sarah Palin are the nicest people I have ever met,” he said. “I love America and they love America. They may not agree with me on my stance on gay marriage, but that is their personal view and I respect that. That’s what is so great about being American.”
Except that you can all agree to disagree because it’s an abstract topic. We can talk dispassionately about the plight of baby harp seals because it doesn’t affect us directly. But unlike Todd, Sarah and Andrew, LGBT people don’t see institutionalized discrimination as an abstract. It’s a big ugly reality.