It’s like The Onion, only it’s real.

May 17, 2011 — American music legend Willie Nelson recently met with former New Mexico Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson after a concert in Texas. The result of that historic meeting is today’s endorsement of Johnson by Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party.

“I am truly gratified to have the endorsement of such an iconic entertainer, philanthropist, innovator and champion for individual rights as Willie Nelson,” Johnson says, accepting the endorsement. “Not only is he a superstar talent, he is a bold advocate for social change. Americans are demanding the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without interference from a heavy-handed government, and Willie Nelson lends a tremendous voice to those demands.”

Johnson served two terms as governor of New Mexico (1995–2002) and has now launched a bid for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election. As Governor, he called for legalizing marijuana. Ending cannabis prohibition has been one of his core issues ever since.

Flash forward a whopping one day:

. . .Ten days ago, Johnson was in Texas for the Austin Rally. That night, he attended Nelson’s show in New Braunfels, near San Antonio. I set up a meeting between Johnson and Nelson before the show. I wanted them to get to know each other. If Willie approved of Johnson, we would move ahead and endorse him.

Two days later, I received the following email from Nelson about Johnson: “I think we should endorse him.” I informed Johnson’s campaign and they happily provided an “acceptance” quote from the Governor: “I am truly gratified to have the endorsement of such an iconic entertainer, philanthropist, innovator and champion for individual rights as Willie Nelson. Not only is he a superstar talent, he is a bold advocate for social change. Americans are demanding the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without interference from a heavy-handed government, and Willie Nelson lends a tremendous voice to those demands.”

Yesterday, both the Teapot Party and Gary Johnson 2012 sent out press releases announcing the endorsement. The media immediately jumped on it, with Politico, Fox and Raw Story leading the coverage. We were on a roll.

But not so fast. I sent the press release and coverage links to Nelson. His response took me by surprise: “My position is it too early for me to endorse anyone. And I think every one should vote their own conscience.”

I wrote back reminding him that he had approved the endorsement.

“I know I said that,” Nelson replied. “But I think I will wait and see where he stands on other things. My bad. Sorry. I still think he is a good guy but so Is Dennis and if he decided to run I would personally vote for him. If it came down to either him or Gary I’m already committed to Dennis. They both have said they support legal pot.”

Willie was referring to Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who he supported in 2008 for the Democratic nomination. I defended our choice of Johnson and reminded him that we were only endorsing him for the Republican nomination, which is wide open.

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