Not only did the license plate say "WTF 44," but it was stuck on the back of a big black newish Lincoln Navigator, as if designed to annoy liberals as it sat in a Capitol Hill parking lot. "WTF," of course, means "what the fuck," and, since we're talking about political nerds here, "44" refers to President Obama, the 44th president. A congressional staffer emailed a photo of the offending vanity plate to Mother Jones's Adam Weinstein, saying, "Even in a place like Texas with ZERO rules, I figure there have to be some kind of guidelines about what you can get on your license plate. Something tells me you shouldn't be able to get 'WHAT THE FUCK, OBAMA?'"
After two weeks of sleuthing, Mothers Jones's Daniel Schulman solved the mystery: the man who "a mobile middle finger to the commander-in-chief" was Scott Graves, legislative director for Rep. K. Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican. Schulman reports that though Graves has abstained from Obama-bashing online, he does appear to be fond of saying "WTF."
Conaway's office is denying that "WTF" stands for swears, though it hasn't elaborated on another intended meaning. (Probably not Obama's "Win the Future" slogan, Schulman writes.) And even though he says he didn't mean anything offensive by it, Graves is getting new plates. A staffer apparently accidentally carbon copied a reporter, the San Angelo Standard-Times' Trish Choate, on an email about how to deal with the plate fallout. Referring to Conaway as "KMC," his chief of staff wrote to Conaway's spokesman, "Give KMC a 'heads-up.' When she talks to KMC next and she asks him about it, he just needs to decline to discuss his employees' personal vehicles. Or say something like, I didn't know about the plates, but I understand he's changed them."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.