At first glance, everything about the Twitter account @JimDouglasVT looks plausible.
The official-looking photo. The Vermont state flag wallpaper. The just-the-facts-ma'am bio ("I just retired after four terms as Governor and am teaching at Middlebury College.") His list of followers (@ShayTotten, @WCAXnewsdesk).
Most convincingly, the tweets are every bit as bland as you'd expect from the recently retired gov. Check out this sampling of recent tweets:JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas Choc chip pancakes and real vt maple syrup? Breakfast for dinner is the best! 2 Mar Favorite Retweet Reply
JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas I can't handle this freezing and thawing every day. Pick a side, Vermont! 3 Mar Favorite Retweet Reply JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas This office is like a sauna. I bet #MiddleburyCollege could close their deficit by just turning down the heat 3 Mar Favorite Retweet Reply
And my personal favorite....
Call me gullible, but I was totally ready to believe this was the real Douglas. I just figured that this is what happens when politicians start tweeting for themselves rather than having their relatively more tech-savvy aides do it for them.
But it's a fake. That's the word from Middlebury College spokeswoman Blair Kloman. No really, that's all she said: "It's a fake." No word from Middlebury on whether Douglas, or the college, intend to in any way respond to the impostor.
Twitter is full of fake accounts and politicians make especially ripe targets. My colleague, the aforementioned @ShayTotten, tipped me off to fake Rahm Emanuel, @MayorEmanuel ("Your next motherfucking mayor. Get used to it, assholes"), who tweets a stream of profanity-laced punchlines.MayorEmanuel Rahm Emanuel Jesus fucking christ. Time to start fucking drinking. Axelrod--beer me! 22 Feb Favorite Retweet Reply MayorEmanuel Rahm Emanuel Axelrod and Hambone are standing outside the Civic, Hambone's taking a shit, Axelrod's checking exit polls. There's a fucking metaphor. 22 Feb Favorite Retweet Reply
fakecorrybliss Corry Bliss Just got done writing a really long email. Man it's tough to type with hooves. #vtgov 29 Oct Favorite Retweet Reply fakecorrybliss Corry Bliss The Attorney General is raiding our office at 10am tomorrow. I hope they bring donuts! http://bit.ly/ar9qiy #vtgov 29 Oct Favorite Retweet Reply
During last fall's gubernatorial race, someone spoofed Republican candidate Brian Dubie's aggressive campaign manager, Corry Bliss, using the account @fakecorrybliss (not even trying to pass it off as legit.)
Most of the @fakecorrybliss tweets were only sort of funny, and you needed a working knowledge of Vermont politics and campaign minutiae to get some of the jokes. But at least there was material to work with. Bliss was a brash, out-of-state hired gun who un-apologetically slashed his way through Vermont's polite political scene. His over-the-top style was an obvious match for a Twitter impostor.
But Douglas? Why would anyone set up a fake Twitter account for a public figure who's so dog-gone vanilla? I mean, what exactly would a funny Jim Douglas sound like? Maybe like a less ironic Stephen Wright?
I tried to reach the fake Douglas but Twitter apparently doesn't let you direct message someone unless they are following you, and fake Douglas is not following me (yet). He or she is following @ShayTotten, however, and my cohort apparently tried to reach out said impostor, without success.
I'm not saying there's nothing for Twitter impostors to mine in Vermont politics, but I'm not sure Douglas is really fertile ground.
Now a fake Tom Salmon — that would be funny!