It was Paul Ryan's catfish noodling that caught Emily Zanotti's attention.
The 30-year-old head of a Chicago-based communications and advertising firm along with Lyndsey Fifield and Lindsey Dodge, two friends Zanotti knew through her work in politics, had all read an April New York Times story about the Wisconsin congressman and his manly hobby. It was just too much to ignore. "Somehow we got talking about how awesome Paul Ryan would look shirtless, in a river, catching catfish," Zanotti told Yeas & Nays. From that came the Tumblr blog "Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan," a site filled simply with sultry Ryan pictures, stamped with phrases like, "hey girl, unlike the debt our love will never hit the ceiling," and "hey girl, let's get fiscal."
The site exploded in May and shortly thereafter the women decided to go into early retirement -- until Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney's running mate over the weekend. "I was shocked, I was shocked, I think it's a good choice, but it still kind of hasn't sunk in that this guy we were kind of messing around with about three months ago is suddenly the vice presidential nominee," Zanotti, who is a libertarian, said. She and her co-writers had always been fans, all leaning to the right politically, but tried to keep the site funny for everyone. "I think one of our big goals was to not be partisan when we first started it, to make it just funny and if we had the opportunity to sneak in some libertarian financial policy, that would be great," she explained. "But we really judged it by whether our liberal friends were sending back our memes and telling us it was funny."
But now, Zanotti is all about embracing the role the fun Tumblr could play in the election. "I'm excited," she said. "We are happy to do what we can to help him out."