If you thought politics in 2018 couldn’t get any weirder, buckle up. We’re not sure what it is about politicians making themselves look like tools on social media, but at least it’s entertaining–well when they’re not getting into flame wars with nuclear powers that is. Late last night, while most people were watching the Emmys, US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was up losing his mind over celebrity chef Nusret Görkçe, better known as “Salt Bae.”

In case you’ve been rooming with Patrick and living under a rock for the past year, ‘salt bae’ is a popular internet meme derived from a viral video in which Görkçe can be seen sprinkling salt on a steak (oh the things we find entertaining). After receiving 2.4 million views, one Twitter user @lolalissaa tweeted the video along with the caption, “So this is #saltbae.” Her video has since been viewed 11.1 million times.

Fast forward to last night, when Görkçe committed the unspeakable act of serving Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro at his steak restaurant. According to Newsweek, Görkçe thanked the Venezuelan president on his Instagram page in a video. Görkçe later posted another video with “Maduro smoking a cigar and donning a t-shirt emblazoned with the salt sprinkling gesture that made the Turkish butcher famous.” Finally, Görkçe shared some photos of himself with Maduro, captioning them with “I love Venezuela.”

Naturally, the incident ushered in tons of backlash from people angry at Salt Bae for ‘normalizing’ someone who many perceive to be a brutal dictator.

A study cited by CNN found that 87% of Venezuelans currently live in poverty. Another survey found that the number of people who eat two meals or fewer a day more than doubled between 2015 and 2016 from 11.3% to 32.5%. Given the plight of the citizens of Venezuela, many found Görkçe’s hosting inappropriate.

No one, however, was more offended than Senator Rubio. On Monday night, Rubio took to Twitter to express his disgust writing “I don’t know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of #Venezuela.” He continued, “He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition.” Clearly, Rubio is not a member of the Nicolás Maduro fan club and won’t be applying for membership anytime soon. But he didn’t stop there. In a follow-up tweet, Rubio took the next step and doxed Salt Bae’s restaurant, tweeting out the address and phone number “in case anyone wanted to call.”

For those keeping score at home, politics in 2018 now includes US senators attempting to “drag” internet memes and doxxing them on Twitter. This is the just the latest time Rubio’s name has been in headlines for things not directly involving US public policy. Earlier this month Rubio had a bizarre encounter with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in which he asked Jones not to touch him, or he’d ‘take care of him himself.’


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