Look, this decade was pretty embarrassing, politically speaking. We had an incredibly unpopular President, all the goodwill the U.S. built up after 9/11 was rapidly squandered by an incredibly unpopular war, and things got so bad, so incredibly messed up, that millions of white people knowingly voted for a black guy with a Muslim middle name rather than let the Republicans keep their hands on the wheel. A lot of politicians did a lot of really strange and sometimes, outright stupid things this decade. If this list comes across as slanted against the Republican party and the Bush administration, well, they were the ones in charge for eight of the last ten years. We’re also avoiding the things where people actually got physically injured or killed (Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dick Cheney shooting that old guy in the face), because those are more “sad embarrassing” than “funny/angry embarrassing”.
#10: Mike Gravel’s Campaign Ads: Mike Gravel was a third-tier candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. Running with virtually no name recognition and no money ($90,000 in the hole!), the Gravel campaign figured they could harness the power of the Internet to spread the word. So they created two ads, “Fire” and “Rock.” You kind of just have to watch them to believe them.
They raised attention and support for Gravel’s campaign, but his lackluster debate performance (and failure to raise any real money) meant his campaign sank… well, like a stone.
#9: Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA): Cynthia McKinney is quite possibly in the running for a Kook of the Decade Award, if such a thing exists. During her time in the House of Representatives, she repeatedly claimed that the 9/11 attacks were carried out with the full knowledge of the Bush Administration, tried to impeach Bush for war crimes, slapped a police officer in the Capitol building after breezing through a checkpoint without ID, and called her campaign manager a fool on-camera. Her only real pieces of legislation were asking the federal government to release all the information they had on the assassination of Martin Luther King and the murder of Tupac Shakur. After being voted out of office, she publically claimed that the National Guard had executed hundreds of prisoners in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, then ran forPresident on the Green Party ticket. Essentially, everything Cynthia McKinney did this decade qualifies for this list.
#8: The James Traficant Trial: Representative James Traficant (D-OH) was up on corruption charges. Traficant was already notorious as a major weirdo, partially because he dressed like a used car salesman, partially because of his enormous toupee, and partially because of his statements before the House that sounded more like insane subway ramblings than Congressional speeches. Anyway, while on trial, Traficant’s defense consisted of… well, just watch.
After being found guilty and expelled from the House, he gave one of the greatest speeches in American history: “I will take with me a file, a chisel, a knife, I will try and get some major explosives, try to fight my way out… and then when I get out I will grab a sword like Maximus Meridius Demidius and as a gladiator I will stab people in the crotch.” Then he ran for re-election. From PRISON. And got fifteen percent of the vote. Now free, Traficant is spending his time hanging out with the Tea Party crowd (a runner up for this list in their own right) and making spooky allegations about Israel. We love you, Jim Traficant.
#7: The Internet Is A Series of Tubes: So Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) was in charge of the U.S. government’s policies regarding the Internet. When discussing net neutrality legislation, he provided a hilariously inept description of the very thing he was supposed to be regulating: “…the Internet is not something that you can just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” While that’s actually a reasonable description of how bandwidth works, it doesn’t explain his specific problem, which was that he was sent “an Internet” by his staff at 10 AM on a Friday, and didn’t get it until Tuesday. Someone clogged the tubes! With streaming movies! This was, of course, hilarious, and the Internet quickly jumped all over it:
#6: Mitt Romney Lets The Dogs Out: During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney was one of the Republican front-runners. Rich, very conservative, with astonishingly perfect hair, pretty much the only thing keeping him from the nomination was his Mormon faith, which just didn’t sit right with the religious fundamentalist wing of the party. Magic underwear aside, Romney was looking like the guy to beat, until a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida revealed a dark secret: Mitt Romney was not just terminally uncool, but he was uncool in a way that totally bordered on racist.
Yes. When trying to appeal to young urban blacks, Mitt Romney turned to his copy of ESPN’S JOCK JAMS 2000!! Nice going, Mittens.
#5: The California Recall: So California in 2003 was in some serious shit. The dot-com bubble had burst, the current governor was implicated in some shady dealings with power companies, and the fine folks of California were pissed. So they threw him out and decided to vote for a new governor. What they got was a circus. All you needed to run for governor of California was 65 signatures and $3500. Candidates included awesomely-named lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamente, former Major League Baseball commissioner Pete Uberroth, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, a porn star, the lead singer from 80′s punk act T.S.O.L., Gary goddamned Coleman, motherfucking GALLAGHER, and, if that list wasn’t insane enough, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator. And he won. The people of California (or Cahl-ee-fohr-nee-ahh, if you will) elected THIS GUY governor.
#4: The Scream: During the 2004 Presidential race, Howard Dean was red hot. Massively popular on the Internet, it seemed like Dean could do no wrong. And then the Iowa caucus happened. Dean finished a dismal third, and despite having the flu, decided to pump up his supporters with an energetic speech – “Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York, and we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington D.C. to take back the White House! Yeah!!” Except that “Yeah!” was more like “YEAARRRGH!” It sounded like someone (possibly Tom Harkin) stabbed him in the ass with a safety pin.
Of course, such a ridiculous clip was broadcast incessantly by the news media, and it effectively killed any mojo the Dean campaign had in reserve. He went from grassroots hero to international laughing stock overnight, and the Democrats ended up fielding John Kerry, a candidate with all the vigor and appeal of runny ketchup.
#3: Every Other Time George W. Bush Opened His Mouth: Look, George W. Bush said so many insane things during his time as President that we could do an entire top ten list of Dumbest Things George W. Bush Said. “You forgot Poland,” “(rumors on) the Internets,” “I’m the decider,” the list just goes on and on. We’ll just sum it all up with a quote from the man himself: “…I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made … took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President.”
#2: Sarah Palin: Do we even need to explain this one?
Okay, fine. Brought in to boost the McCain presidential campaign, Palin’s folksy charm and vague MILFishness were supposed to endear her to Americans from all backgrounds. Then she opened her mouth and the stupid just started to pour right out. While she never actually said she could see Russia from her house (that was Tina Fey), she did claim that she read “all of the newspapers” every day, and couldn’t name a single Supreme Court decision besides Roe v. Wade. How did Palin deal with these deficiencies? Well, they’re just “gotcha journalism” from the mean ol’ libbrul media! From there, she went on to push abstinence-only education while her own daughter got knocked up by (completely awesome) hockey thug Levi Johnston, used her Down’s Syndrome baby as a political prop, blew over $100,000 in Republican Party funds to outfit her family in fresh new duds, and generally ended up torpedoing the McCain campaign amongst any voters with two fucking brain cells to rub together. Then there’s the whole “quitting her job as governor so she can sign a book deal” angle, the “appealing to the absolute lowest common denominator of American public life” angle, and it just goes on and on and on. In all likelihood, Sarah Palin will make NEXT decade’s list of embarrassing political moments, too.
#1: Bush v. Gore: This was when the Supreme Court decided that George Bush would be the 43rd President of the United States. Half the stuff on this list could have been avoided entirely if it wasn’t for this one stupid, stupid, stupid move. We really can’t say much more about this one, except GODDAMNIT, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, WE WANT AN APOLOGY.
Senator Al Franken:
This guy is a goddamned Senator now. (And check out that ass!)