The New Jersey governor is being lambasted online after he was photographed lounging on a beach that he had closed to the public. State beaches were shut over the July 4 holiday weekend because of a budget dispute.
Chris Christie, the Republican governor of the US state of New Jersey, was hit by a barrage of mockery and criticism on social media after a local newspaper published aerial snaps of him sunbathing on an empty shore.
The governor was making the most of his private residence, conveniently located fronting onto a public beach.
Like other "non-essential" state beaches and parks, the sandy stretch was off limits to the public over the weekend after Christie and the Democratic-controlled Legislature failed to agree on a budget for a new fiscal year that began Saturday.
Social media users had a field day with the picture of Christie in his beach chair - inserting his reclining, sandal-clad form into iconic photographs and movie scenes.
One pictured Christie in a classic beach scene from the film Here to Eternity.
There was a sci-fi twist with this scene from Planet of the Apes, where Charlton Heston's character discovers he has been on a post-apocolyptic Earth all along.
Cinematic comedy was not forgotten, with Christie superimposed into a still from the Tom Hanks movie Forrest Gump.
Christie also found himself in a mockup from the Trump White House, in a shot that saw Kellyanne Conway criticized for her apparent indifference to a group of African-American visitors.
The governor was also photoshopped into a classic scene of construction workers eating their lunch on a girder high above New York.
The deadlock was broken early Tuesday, with lawmakers announcing they had reached an agreement on a $34.7 billion (30.5 billion euros) budget. Christie signed off on the deal, although it came three days late, and ordered that state beaches and parks be reopened for the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday.
Christie, a deeply unpopular Republican who became the party's first major elected figure to endorse Donald Trump as president, is serving out his final six months in office. His approval rating is hovering at an abysmal 15 percent.
The governor defended his weekend trip, where he and his family had the shore to themselves. He said he had already announced his plans to visit the state-owned seaside house at the Island Beach State Park and that the media had simply "caught a politician keeping his word."
"This is who I am, and I've never pretended to be anything other than that," Christie said.
Christie himself took to Twitter to say that the majority of beaches - those not controlled by the state - remained open, and called on the public to "come and enjoy them."
nm/rc (Reuters, AP)