Is George W. Bush the key to True Detective season two?

Let’s play detective.

Vernon, Calif., the notoriously corrupt, industrial city that inspiredTrue Detective season two, is a far cry from the eerie swamplands of the Louisiana bayou, but we’re there for a reason — right?

In this week’s episode, “Maybe Tomorrow,’’ Det. Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and California Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) search for the killer, leading them to ambush the home of Mayor Austin Chessani (Ritchie Coster), who was in close, questionable contact with the seedy city manager before his death. While in Chessani’s mansion, we catch a glimpse of a framed photo of the mayor and former President George W. Bush. (Wow, HBO shows like their odd Bush references, don’t they?)


To understand how weird this is, let’s take a look at the town that inspired Vinci. Vernon has a reputation for corruption, dating back decades to founder-cum-mayor John Baptiste Leonis, whose associates were found guilty of voter fraud, with incidents of sex crimes,rampant nepotism, misappropriations of public funds, and yes, more voter fraud on a regular basis. So if Vinci is Vernon, and Chessani is, as we’re led to believe, involved in some serious shade — what’s Bush doing hanging out with him?

Vanity Fair has a theory that the strange happenings in Vinci could be linked to a ritualistic secret society called the Bohemian Club. The typically wealthy, white, Republican members meet up to do who-knows-what every July at a heavily guarded 2,700 acre campground named the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, according to the Washington Post. Membership is by invitation only, costs a small fortune, and is usually limited the exceptionally rich and powerful. Among its reported members: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clint Eastwood, Charles Schwab, Calvin Coolidge, Mark Twain, and George W. Bush.

VF points out the Bohemian Grove headquarters is just a few miles away from Guerneville, the small town where a young girl Bezzerides’ is searching for went missing. Coincidence?


Before we dismiss the not one, but two photos of Chessani and Bush spotted in his office and home, let’s consider the political geography of Vernon/Vinci. Given Los Angeles county’s Democratic leanings, the mayor’s close link to Bush is worth noting. Reading up on the Bohemian Grove Wikileaks may be a good use of a fan’s time.

Is Chessani a member of the mysterious Bohemian Club? Is the second President Bush somehow wrapped into the sketchy politics of Vinci? Or is this just another George W. Bush Easter egg we’re not meant to crack?

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