The Republican, nicknamed "Little Elephant" by colleagues, stands 5-foot-8 and weighs just shy of 275 pounds, according to his Aug. 30 weigh-in at the trucker scales located off Exit 68. Bolling vows to drop 30 pounds by year's end.
"Like many of my fellow Virginians," Bolling said, "I've been cursed by the demons of fried chicken and chocolate-covered chocolate pie for far too long. Watch out, Schwarzenegger! There's a stud inside me waiting to get out."
Moderate Republicans, who dominate the Virginia Senate, spoke out in favor of eliminating obesity and asked all Virginians to pitch in. "You could look at it as a tax increase," Sen. John Chichester said. "Or, as a chance to slenderize your wallet."
Conservative Republicans, who control the House, called for immediate weight loss and demanded that any lost fat be returned to taxpayers, especially in their districts.
They also hinted that Bolling's increasing waistline could be blamed on a subversive political ploy by Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine and his "amazingly tasty grilled cheese sandwiches."
"That's preposterous," responded Kaine Press Secretary Kevin Hall. "The governor has never made grilled cheese sandwiches. And if he did and I'm not saying he did they would be made with love. Kaine good. Kittens and hearts."
Political pundit Larry Sabato weighed in on his blog: "It's his boldest move yet," he wrote of Bolling. "When you make personal struggles public, you always take a risk." Sabato cited his own hairpiece, which made headlines when it first appeared in the early '90s. "It's ultimately made me stronger," he blogged. Putting a twist on rotund politician Tip O'Neill's famous line, he added, "All politics is personal."
"We all stand behind him," said Attorney General Bob McDonnell, "except, you know, after he's had his afternoon feeding."
A day later, he called a press conference to apologize for his remark.
The well-coiffed and unseasonably tanned McDonnell, a likely opponent to Bolling for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2009, said he would show his camaraderie with Bolling by engaging in his own increased fitness regime.
"I, too, know the dark places that poor diet and bad exercise habits can take you," McDonnell said. "Recently, I have noticed fewer striations in my deltoids, not to mention that my abs are less cut." McDonnell declared that he would be back to the shape he was in when he posed for the 2005 "Pro-Life Dads for the American Way" nude fund-raising calendar, a project of 3,000-pound leg-presser Pat Robertson.
As for Bolling, a Libertarian speaking on the condition of anonymity called the weight-loss program a big-party publicity stunt. "It's hard to lose weight on ham and beer," he said, citing a $16,250 donation from Smithfield Foods and a $19,350 political donation from the Virginia Beer Wholesalers to Bolling's 2005 campaign for lieutenant governor. "Bolling's like all of 'em," he said: "Fat cats." S