Do They Have White Zinfandel in Prison? Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell's Secret Shame


Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) and his wife Maureen have been found guilty of numerous corruption charges in federal court and face serious jail time (they'll be sentenced in January).

Reason TV caught up with McDonnell back in January 2010 to discuss one of his campaign promises: He had pledged to privatize Virginia's idiotic system of state-owned liquor stores. As a matter of governance, this was a no-brainer, as state-owned liquor stores offer worse goods and service and higher prices to customers (taxpayers). It's a tough sell to claim that running a liquor operation is a core business of the state.

McDonnell wanted to change all that but ultimately failed to get it done. A coalition of big-government Democrats, who like the fact that state liquor store workers were public employees and socially conserative Republicans, who don't want a free market in something they consider a vice, sunk the plan.

The oddest moment in the video? When McDonnell offered up the tidbit that he's a big fan of white zinfandel.

Here's the original text for the video, from January 2010:

Virginia is for (Liquor) Lovers!

Bob McDonnell is a self-professed pinot grigio and white zinfandel drinker.

He's also the new Republican governor of Virginia and is taking aim at the commonwealth's oppressive and inefficient state-owned liquor monopoly. More than a dozen states still completely control the sales and distribution of all distilled spirits.

The result? Higher payrolls for state governments (state-workers are public-sector employees after all) and rotten selection and service for customers (state-sanctioned monopolies tend to diminish the shopping experience).

Despite a reputation as a social conservative, McDonnell thinks that state-run liquor stores are a bad idea from both pragmatic and philosophical perspectives. Given budget crises, says McDonnell, "we can't just do things the same old way…. Certainly there's nothing I gleaned from the [Virginia] constitution that would have me think it's better or required to have the government controlling distilled spirits."

States such as West Virginia and Iowa have gained millions of dollars in new tax and license revenues by privatizing liquor sales, says Reason Foundation policy analyst Len Gilroy. And they've also cut government expenditures by millions of dollars as well.

Will Virginia join them? McDonnell invited to come back in a year and check in with him. Sure thing, Mr. Governor. We'll bring the questions. You can bring the white zinfandel.

Approximately 4.30 minutes. Written and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, who also hosts. Additional footage: Dan Hayes.Scroll down for downloadable versions.Subscribe to's YouTube channel and get immediate notification whenever a new video goes live.For more videos on prohibition and alchohol policy, go here.


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  1. You know what’s girlier than a wine cooler?
    White zin.

  2. Looks like he’ll get to sample White Power Bill’s 2015 vintage toilet wine – aged a whole three weeks.

    1. “Jail’s not so bad. You can make sangria in the terlet. Course, it’s shank or be shanked.”

      1. I have a feeling his main concern will be finding a tennis partner…

        1. What’s the euphemistic equivalent of ‘catching’ for rich elitist politicians?

      2. “Of course!!!! *sobs*

        Actually even more embarrassing is that Virginia wineries don’t grow Zinfandel grapes. He should have said his favorite was Viognier if he was trying to earn political points.

  3. Bought some “moonshine” from the ABC store last night. Of course it tastes like crap. I get far better from the runners.

  4. I still have a hard time with this one. Was there in fact any corruption? I don’t know. It seems like their could have been, and the McDonnells were probably in an ethical grey area, but I haven’t heard of anything that really rises to the level of corruption.

    My impression is that McDonnell was a retail politician and put a signed picture and card everywhere he could. My local coffee shop had one. So selling the “prestige of the office” just sounds like some kind of made up nonsense to criminalize politics.

    He had a slush fund he was obliged to operate, everybody got a ladle of gravy, including people who didn’t plug his wife and give him a Rolex as a consolation prize.

    It all just seems so petty and stupid. Even my left of center wife isn’t really convinced that anything *bad* really happened.

    1. I still have a hard time with this one.

      I do as well. I have yet to see/hear anything that should be or I know to be illegal. It doesn’t seem that he used the influence of the office as a response to getting any ‘gifts’. If only there was a news website (*cough* Reason *cough*) that would investigate this further.

    2. If you’re a governor you don’t take gifts from people who seek special treatment from the state. Period. He should have known better, even if it was small potatoes compared to, for example, congressmen making millions from “legalized” insider trading on stocks their committee gets secret information on.

      That said, the Obama administration and the DOJ that prosecuted him is roughly a hundred times more corrupt than he possibly could have been. Sometimes you wish we still had trial by combat.

  5. Anyone who says they like ‘white zinfandel’ knows little about wine. That’s the ‘no-name’ brand of wine.

    But wine drinkers are like that sometimes.

  6. Wow man I never thought about it liek that before.

  7. That store owner nearly spilled that bottle of Macallan.

  8. Bob McDonnell is a self-professed pinot grigio and white zinfandel drinker.

    Sounds to me like he’d fit in pretty well with the DuPont Circle cosmo dipshit crowd.

  9. Could we get the McDonnell jury up to Phila. to handle Rep. Chaka Fattah? Fattah apparently created a bunch of NGOs in which key allies are executives with six figure salaries and which, lo and behold, get millions of $$$ from the Feds, where Fattah is senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

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