When most comics fans see Bane, they think of a quintessential 1990s supervillain, the super-strong "Man Who Broke the Bat." But when conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh sees Bane, he thinks of a left-wing conspiracy.
As Warner Bros. makes its final promotional push for The Dark Knight Rises, which features Tom Hardy as Batman's hulking nemesis, Limbaugh launched into a screed linking the prominence of Bane in entertainment news with the prominence of Bain -- that is, the venture-capital company co-founded by Mitt Romney -- in the political debate. Oh, don't act surprised.
"Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing, four-eyed whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?" The Hollywood Reporter quotes Limbaugh as saying on today's show. He apparently acknowledged that the development of the Christopher Nolan film predates the current line of attack by President Obama's reelection campaign, but even the pesky tendency of time to move in a linear fashion -- retroactive retirements aside -- can't get in the way of a good conspiracy theory!
"So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there's discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It's going to have a lot of people," Limbaugh continued. "The audience is going to be huge. A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop-culture crowd, and they're going to hear Bane in the movie and they're going to associate Bain. And the thought is that when they're going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies -- 'Oh yeah, I know who that is!'"
Who that is, as most DC Comics readers know, is a character co-created two decades ago by Chuck Dixon, a conservative writer whose political views are probably more in line with Romney's than Obama's. The Hollywood Reporter also notes, perhaps unnecessarily, that Bane debuted about a year before Romney launched his unsuccessful 1994 bid to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy, who ran a series of ads focused on Bain Capital that were credited with contributing to Romney's loss.
UPDATE: Commenters on Twitter and on Robot 6 both point out that Limbaugh is merely picking up the baton from The Washington Examiner and The Washington Times, which report the Bane/Bain meme actually originated on liberal blogs -- although the links there seem largely focused on supposed thematic parallels and photo mash-ups rather than, y'know, some secret plot that would require mind control and a time machine.
After seeing an attempt to link Bane with Bain, Dixon wrote, "I saw it on FB like two hours ago. Ridiculous. Tho' I got a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach that Rush may pick up on this. And that would be the second time he pegged me and Graham as liberals on his show […] Overgrasping Dems? Hey, if it gets Obama supporters into theaters. Maybe they'll buy thousands of Bane toys to throw at Romney. It all adds to MY Bane capital. I wonder if the Romney campaign will contact me?"