What Happens When You Google "Santorum"

Photo: Charles Sykes/AP Photo.
News wires are abuzz this morning with the word that Republican Rick Santorum is expected to announce that he will be running for President in 2016. But, Google the former senator's name, and you'll find a very different story. 

Gather 'round, ye children, and let us recall the fable of how "Santorum" came to be defined as: "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."

In April 2003, Santorum gave an interview in which he made deeply inflammatory statements about homosexuality. First, when asked to comment on the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, Santorum referred to the sexual abuse as "a basic homosexual relationship," and said it was society's acceptance of the gay ("deviant") lifestyle that enabled these abuses to take place. He went on to champion sodomy laws as a way of protecting, "the basic tenets of our society and the family. And, if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." Finally, Santorum conceded that he wasn't trying to pick on gay people, because y'know, they could be worse: "It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog."

A number of media outlets and politicians (on both sides of the aisle) publicly decried the then-senator's remarks, though he stood his ground on what he felt was "a very important point." Public figures are used to brushing off this kind of criticism, so columnist Dan Savage decided to make a statement Rick Santorum would be forced to reckon with. "There's no better way to memorialize the Santorum scandal than by attaching his name to a sex act that would make his big, white teeth fall out of his big, empty head," Savage said in his May 15, 2003 column. So, he asked readers to send in their suggestions for a sexual act that we could henceforth define as "Santorum." 

After two months and thousands of submissions and votes, Savage announced the winner: that "frothy mixture" took the honor in a landslide victory. Next, Savage and his readers took to the web, starting spreadingsantorum.com and santorum.com, in order to spread the message of the new definition. The campaign was swiftly and hugely successful; the websites quickly outranked Rick Santorum's own official website. Googling "Santorum" soon resulted in myriad results about the definition, and thus it remains today.

Now, 12 years later, searching for "Santorum" still gets you a whole heap of lube and fecal matter, with Rick's official website floating somewhere in the middle of it all.
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