“Bury That Iguana”: The Birth of a Trash-Talk Term

That iguana, Charlie Crist.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman is curious about a diss from a former Mitt Romney aide. Team Romney was understandably annoyed, in 2008, when Charlie Crist welshed on a promise to endorse the fading Rudy Giuliani, and instead backed Romney’s main Florida primary competitor, John McCain. The quote, via CNN’s Peter Hamby:

“Dem or Republican, I’ll do whatever I can to bury that iguana,” said Will Ritter, a former Romney aide and GOP consultant. “For as long as I live. For free.”

Liberman can’t find any other examples of a man being called an “iguana” as an insult. A louse? Sure. A rat? Plenty. Not an iguana. “Web search,” writes Liberman, “suggests a sneakier and more unpleasant reason for Will Ritter to have chosen that word — e.g. Bob Norman, ’The Talk of the Green Iguana.’ ” That is to say, maybe Ritter was trying to further the rumor that Crist frequented a gay bar.

Ritter says no. “I’d never seen that piece, nor would I care either way,” he tells me. To him, iguana meant “reptilian, creepy, heartless.”

Case closed, unless Crist wants to appeal.