- Associated Press
Friday, February 18, 2011

HARTFORD, CONN. (AP) - For a short time, they seemed so simpatico: the idealistic congressman, the teenage singing sensation, their shared disappointment in the U.S. health care system.

Now, though, Connecticut Democrat Christopher Murphy and Justin Bieber, the famously coiffed Pied Piper of love-struck girls worldwide, have parted ways philosophically over the Biebs’ opposition to abortion.

Their split is less puzzling to some observers than the fact that Murphy, 37, a three-term U.S. representative, even invoked the pop star as a voice of authority in the first place.

No worries, Murphy said Friday: He doesn’t have Bieber fever, nor is he taking public policy directives from pop culture.

He’s just using Twitter and Facebook to stay connected with constituents and show them he’s a regular guy, he said, “even one who is probably too plugged in to pop culture.”

“I care deeply about public policy, but I’m not afraid to show that I also know something about things like sports and music, and yes, even Justin Bieber,” Murphy said.

Like many of today’s flare-and-fizzle connections, their one-sided bromance played out electronically with a few Twitter messages and hashtags, or short phrases and words used to categorize posts according to their topics.

Murphy, who authors his own tweets, wrote Thursday morning: “Bieber on health care” and added the hashtag, “(hash)mycaseofbieberfever,” plus a link to Bieber’s comments in a recent Rolling Stone interview.

The Canadian-born singer called the U.S. health care system “evil” for the medical debt it places on some patients. But in the same interview, Bieber also mentioned his opposition to abortion, which he considers to be “like killing a baby.”

Less than an hour after his first tweet about Bieber’s health care concerns, Murphy was back on Twitter. His chagrined comment: “Oh wait … just heard what Biebs said about abortion. Ugh.”

Thus ended the brief affinity, though it’s unclear whether Bieber even knew about it, between launching a world tour, appearing at the recent Grammy Awards, guest-starring on “CSI” and promoting his new movie. A representative for him did not immediately respond to an e-mail Friday seeking comment.

The incident has been a source of amusement and a little eye-rolling among some observers.

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy admitted that, yes, politicians from both sides of the aisle often try to paint themselves as hip and attuned to pop culture.

But linking your political ideology to that of a 16-year-old singer whose fans, calling themselves the “Beliebers,” swoon and scream at the sight of his face?

“Which voters are Chris Murphy trying to reach now, 14-year-old girls?” Healy asked. “It’s amazing what some politicians will do to try to tell the public, ‘Hey, I’m cool, I’m paying attention to the zeitgeist.’ It’s kind of funny how it blows up in your face.”

Murphy’s tweets prompted Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican whose city is in the congressman’s district, to post a few of his own: “I think I have Bieber fever,” followed by, “Never mind, it’s just an allergy . Phew. (hash)wasgettingreallynervous.”

Murphy isn’t worried about the jokes, nor has the incident changed his opinion on using Twitter _ or following pop culture.

“I just think that people in government tend to take themselves too seriously, and social media is a way for me to show people that I’m just a regular guy,” he said in a statement.

All the same, though, there won’t be a Justin Bieber concert T-shirt in Murphy’s dresser drawer anytime soon, nor is he likely to be humming verses of Bieber’s hit “Baby” on his way to Capitol Hill.

After his “ugh” reaction on Twitter to Bieber’s abortion stance, the congressman drove home his point with two more hash tags: “(hash)timetobequietagainjustin” and “(hash)bieberfevercured.”

No word, though, on whether he’s gaga for Lady Gaga.

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