"Here was a guy who could provide workers for causes progressives cared about."
Center for American Progress boss and new Obama adviser John Podesta compared the Republican Party to the "Jonestown Cult".
Podesta, whose official mandate includes enforcement of numerous executive orders on emissions and the environment, suggested as much when he spoke with me earlier this fall about Obama’s team. “They need to focus on executive action given that they are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress,” he told me.
"What you had here was a ready-made volunteer workforce," said Agar Jaicks, who was chairman of the county Democratic Central Committee, the governing body of the Democratic Party in San Francisco. "And you also had in Jones a man who touched a component of the consensus power forces in the city, such as labor and ethnicity groups, and he was very strong in the Western Addition. So here was a guy who could provide workers for causes progressives cared about."
Democratic San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed Jim Jones to the city's housing authority. Willie Brown, who later served as Democratic Speaker of the California Assembly, in 1976 introduced Jones as a combination Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein and Chairman Mao.
That same year Senator Walter Mondale, later elected vice president, invited Jones to meet with him on his campaign plane. The People's Temple chief also had a personal meeting with Jimmy Carter's wife, Rosalynn.
Wrote Walter Mondale: "Knowing of your congregation's deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me."
Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey said that Jones' work "is testimony to the positive and truly Christian approach to dealing with the myriad problems confronting our society today."
California Congressman Don Edwards expressed the wish that "there were more like the people of the People's Temple Christian Church."
And let's go to Jim Jones' scene of the crime. The ceremonial drinking of the progressive Kool Aid.
"This is not the way for people who are Socialists or Communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity. We must die with some dignity," Jim Jones said.
"Everything we could have ever done, most loving thing all of us could have done, and it's been a pleasure walking with all of you in this revolutionary struggle. No other way I would rather go to give my life for socialism, communism, and I thank Dad very, very much," a woman said.
This was Podesta's cult all-right. And he should own it.