Let me begin in the middle.
While researching this column, the theme of which is the protracted involvement of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the lives of the Kardashian family, I stumbled across something that caused me to wonder if I was hallucinating.
This is not an uncommon experience in 2019, right? Each day brings news that cannot possibly true, but is. On the day I write this, for example, the Washington Post has reported that “young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls,” as a result of the nearly constant forward tilt of their heads as they look at their phones.
The kids are not alright.
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Anyway, what I discovered was an MSNBC clip from earlier this year. It featured Blumenthal and legendary comedy writer Lizz Winstead appearing together on “Fallback Friday,” apparently a regular feature on “The Beat,” which is apparently an MSNBC show.
The lead topic was a Valentine’s Day gesture by Kanye West to Kim Kardashian West. It involved a room full of roses and Kenny G performing a solo love ballad. Winstead didn’t like it. Blumenthal took the opposing view and even defended Mr. G as a vector to true love.
“I do consider it legitimate,” he said. “Any music is, in the right context, legitimate romance music.”
I can’t imagine a person whose judgment about this I would trust more. Can you? (Possible answer: “Any other carbon-based life form.”)
This might be an instance of Blumenthal being atypically pro-Kardashian, but, really, it could just as easily be Dick taking Kanye’s side. Like, um, if, you know, Kim didn’t like her Valentine’s Day? Kanye could, like, say, you know, Blumenthal said it was legit?
Mostly, though, Blumenthal is a rose thorn in the Kardashian hide.
On Monday, he took the unusual — borderline shocking, really — step of calling a news conference to denounce both Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner for promoting “detox teas,” category of dubious weight loss products that, according to Blumenthal, often do nothing at all and sometimes cause serious bowel, liver and/or heart damage.
Blumenthal also pointed out that celebrities can reportedly earn six figure sums for a single social media post promoting a “detox tea,” frequently without any expectation that these celebrities personally use these teas and expose themselves to the products’ associated dangers, in violation of the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines.
Kim Kardashian, shortly after Christmas, posted an Instagram shot of herself in sports bra and tights and matching duck face as she endorsed a line of Flat Tummy shakes and teas. “These meal replacement shakes are so good, and they’re helping me get my tummy back to flat.” How long do you think it took her to come up with the wording there?
In the Instagram pic, Kim is looking at her phone. It’s a matter of time before she starts endorsing horn-removal products.
Even though Blumenthal seems have figured out that TMZ is not some local zoning agency, he missed an opportunity to team up with goddess-like actress Jameela Jamil (whose three-season comedic performance in “The Good Place” is not to be missed). Jamil has been on the warpath about these products and recently flipped out when she discovered that Flat Tummy markets a special line of its detox teas, shakes, appetite-suppressing lollipops and “performance supplements” to pregnant women.
“Are ... we ... (forking) ... kidding?” Jamil tweeted along with a picture of Amber Rose, who is pregnant, endorsing these products on Instagram while wearing, of course, a sports bra, tights and matching duck face.
Amber Rose is an actress-model who dated Kanye, pre-Kim. This whole universe ties together, people.
So Blumenthal could have appeared alongside Jamil, but she is young, beautiful and 6’2” in heels, so he would have risked looking like a small, wizened pet monkey she had capriciously dressed in a suit.
Jamil has also tangled with Iggy Azalea over endorsing these products, but Blumenthal apparently decided “first things first” and went after the Kardashians, whom he also messed with in 2010 as one of his last acts as an attorney general (assuming you grant the premise that ever stopped being an attorney general).
That time, it was the Kardashian Kard, a pre-paid debit card which was loaded with hidden fees. (It cost $99.95 just to own a 12-month Kard and $1 every time you loaded more money onto the Kard, etc., etc.)
Blumenthal scolded Kim, Kourtney and Khloe — all pictured on the Kard — for preying on young unsophisticated fans. “Keeping up with the Kardashians is impossible using these cards,” Blumenthal wrote at the time. You see what he did there. The family immediately pulled the card off the market.
That’s the thing about Blumenthal. He does good. I have no doubt that wacky diet products are under-regulated and that the world of Instagram endorsements is has created all manner of loopholes. (Read last week’s Vox article: “The hired guns of Instagram” for a stunning look at the way the gun industry is using Instagram “influencers.”)
But it’s not over.
Kim has — I’m not making this up — registered with the California State Bar to study law and pursue a law license. In California, one can do this without going to law school or even finishing one’s undergraduate degree (which is the case with Kim), if one engages in supervised study for 18 hours a week and takes the required tests.
Brace yourself for the sequel, Mr. Perpetual Attorney General. The Kardashian Empire Strikes Back.