by Ryan Felton
Agema's prominent role in the PowWow is the reason several prominent Republican officeholders and conservative groups, including the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, have decided to steer clear of this year's meeting in Mount Pleasant.
But his appearance on the PowWow podium elicits the first of several standing ovations that he will get this weekend, and he wastes little time in attacking the "political correctness" gripping his party, which he finds "nauseating."
"If you're tea party, if you're ex-military, if you're a gun owner, you're a terrorist now," he says. "Well, I'm all three."
Over the next half hour, Agema takes on illegal immigrants ("97 percent are in construction"), homosexuals ("You will have more psychological problems, and you will die young") and the federal judiciary ("which is relying on foreign law to decide cases in American courts").
He wraps up his diatribe by urging PowWow attendees to run for public office.
"People tell me: 'But I'm not smart enough to run for state rep,' " Agema says. But he spent three terms in the House, and he's sure the least of those gathered in Mount Pleasant can run circles around most of his former colleagues.
There was the time, for instance, when Agema asked an unnamed legislator from Detroit to support legislation cutting state expenditures for entitlements.
"His exact words to me were: 'But my people needs those entitlements,'" Agema recalls. He pauses, letting the grammatical error hang in the air. "His exact words."