The things you miss when you don't monitor the conservative press closely enough: I hadn't realized that Gibson guitars had become iconic on the right, the company having become emblematic in the free enterprise system's battle for survival under the jackboot of Obama totalitarianism.
It seems that back in 2009, Obama's goons, otherwise known as Justice Department officials, raided a Gibson plant and found a bunch of illegally imported woods from India and Madagascar intended for use as fretboards. These woods were protected. If the export of certain rare woods is banned in the host country, obviously, it is also against U.S. law to import such woods. The Lacey Act makes it a crime for U.S. companies to violate American or foreign laws in obtaining its materials.
Evidently, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz in short order made himself into a poster boy for fettered capitalism. One Republican congresswoman even invited him as her guest to the September 2011 address on his jobs plan that Obama delivered to Congress. John Boehner even inveighed on Gibson's behalf at one point. What better and cooler symbol for them? The Les Paul, for gosh sakes! Will those liberal ninnies stop at nothing?
Yesterday, Gibson agreed to pay a $350,000 fine--and renounced any claim on the wood seized by the government. It's not exactly admitting guilt, as is the style these days, but it seems pretty clear that Gibson is acknowledging culpability here. So, another myth demolished. I knew I always preferred Fenders.