The Daily Show's Al Madrigal wanted to figure out which state would be the last to allow gay marriage, so he turned to the one guy out there whose made a name for himself by predicting things. "The states that are probably going to be the slowest towards legalization are mostly in the south," said Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com. "In particular Alabama and Mississippi are maybe the last two."
Madrigal asked Silver what he'd found in Mississippi. "Um, I didn't got to Mississippi." He didn't go to Alabama either. "And you call yourself a statistician," Madrigal said, before walking out of the interview. No, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself — so Madrigal went down to the Dirty South to see which state is the most homophobic, backwoodsy and inbred, in his words.
As far as plain stats go, the states are matched. Alabama still has segregated sororities and the Alabama lawyer Madrigal spoke to still uses the word "colored." Meanwhile, the Mississippi reporter representing that state pointed out that the state still has a confederate flag in its flag. Mississippi was also the last state to ratify the 13th amendment and the last state to abolish slavery. "That's impressive," Madrigal said.
Evenly matched in bigotry, Madrigal turned to two assistants to pose as a gay couple to see which state would treat them poorly. Even a gay proposal in a waffle house didn't turn any heads. "Seriously?" Madrigal asked. "These are the two gayest states in the union. I was owed an explanation," he said.
Back in the Yankee part of the country, Madrigal confronted Silver. "How was your trip, sir?" Silver asked. "Um, super gay, Nate," Madrigal replied. "Alabama might as well be blowing Mississippi." For all the South's faults, being universally awful to gay couples all the time isn't one of them, which is something.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.