But this year I gleefully agreed to be a judge in a contest, The Golden Dukes, to decide which political figures in the US, this year, were the most atrocious liars, cheats and scoundrels— the kind of people who've bled this country dry.
The categories are Best Testimonial Trainwreck, Best Corruption Based Chutzpah, Most Improbable Forgetfulness, Best Sex Scandal, Local Scandal, and Overall Big Kahuna Scandal.
Who would you have picked? See? It's hard!
The winners got announced today by editor Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.
The best part of being a judge for this contest was conferring with the other judges, particularly John Dean, "a gentleman and a scholar." He wrote me during our deliberations, "Bush and Cheney have done what no one believed possible— made Nixon look good."
Aside from our votes, we judges were asked for our "reasoning." It was hard to reason!— because after you've rolled the videotape on these bloated hypocrites' dossiers, you're ready for a bucket— not thoughtful discrimination.
Below is what I wrote to Editor Marshall below— and I highly recommend reading the picks and comments of my fellow jurists: John Dean, Dahlia Lithwick, Matthew Yglesias, and Henrick Hertzberg. They're all such great political writers.
This was a tough, and surprising contest—and I’m not talking about the relative strengths of the crooked competitors.
I thought this was going to be "fun" competition. I thought I'd howl in laughter at the video clips, and then chortle my way through my verdicts.
Instead, I didn't get halfway through the "testimonial train-wreck" category before tears came to my eyes.
These people are horrible!
Witnessing their hypocrisy, mendacity, and prejudices, en masse, sent me into a depression you'll need a steam shovel and a hot thermos of ethics to dig me out of.
If you had dared print their salary figures— the hundreds of thousand of dollars these people were paid in taxpayer money to rape and plunder— maybe that would instigate the riot I long for.
While I relish the chance to rub these villain's noses in their own fecal distress, I'd rather see a swell of activism in this country that would make "The Dukes" contest irrelevant. Vote these fuckers and their lackeys out of office, and never let me see their miserable mugs again.
For my picks, I was torn between measuring the buckets of blood dripping off the most powerful candidate's hands, versus scaling the tomfoolery of the other penny-weights who didn't kill anything other than their own future in public life.
If the buck stops somewhere, then it's Gonzalez and Bush who've presided over an internment camp in Guantanamo, a worldwide torture scene that makes De Sade look like a powder puff, an insupportable Oil War, an environmental scorched-earth policy, and a Constitution that fluffs up like the litter in a hamster cage. Doesn't suspending habeas corpus count for something? Any Senator in our contest had to face the next line of culpability, and then all the pathetic political appointees round up the line.
But if you're counting sheer entertainment value, the standards change, don’t they? Some people fall apart on television better than others.
Okay, here we go:
Best Testimonial Trainwreck
My pick: John Tanner
Tanner never had to speak to an African-American in authority in his entire life until this testimony— and the look on his face shows he'll never get over it.
Runner Up: Lurita Doan
Doan relished being a Mean Girl for the GOP, and is mightily affronted that she has to deny it!
Outstanding Achievement in Improbable Forgetfulness
My pick: Bradley Shlozman
Weasel-Wiener Par Excellence. I wouldn’t buy a roll of toilet paper from this guy.
Runner Up: Gonzalez
I'm just following the Lady MacBeth Logic. He'll always win the body count vote. Don’t get me started, or I’ll have to reverse my choices.
Outstanding Achievement in Corruption-based Chutzpah
My pick: Larry Craig
Everyone wants to focus on Larry's sex life, but it's his scheming ego that goes beyond rudimentary closet-case maneuvering. No one saw that "non-resignation" resignation coming until it was a fait accompli. Not only does he have a wide stance... he thinks the whole Senate is his oyster shooter. “I Am Not Gay,” indeed. He isn’t even of this planet. Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Larry Craig.
Runner Up: Scott Bloch
The Fox Wiped the Drive in the Hen House
Best Scandal -- Local Venue
My pick: Bob Allen
Allen is is my personal Favorite Mess of the Year. He brings a whole new meaning to the GOP's Southern Strategy— where you not only destroy other candidates through race and queer-baiting, but you actually rationalize your own hard-on with the same hateful bile.
Here's a guy, who, if I may use the plain language of personal ads, "will pay to suck your gorgeous black cock," pretends that HE's a victim of racism, and the last true crusader against homosexuals everywhere. This man's whole career is based on prudery legislation!
Allen's downfall was such a Beauty and the Beast moment: the cop Allen propositioned is so good-looking he could be the new heart-throb on The Wire— while Allen is so homely, you'd feel sorry for him... if he wasn't such a self-loathing disgrace.
Runner up: Rachel Palouse
Gee, I didn’t even know about Fumo, so he gave me pause. But I’m giving him some slack for not being a raving holy-roller hypocrite... just your garden-variety Catholic on the take. I mean, that's frickin’ tasteful, at this point.
Instead, I'll give my runner-up vote to Rachel Palouse, because she is offensive to everything the populist spirit of Minnesota represents, and my Twin-Cities-bred mother is surely rolling in her grave.
Best Scandal -- Sex and Generalized Carnality
My pick: Richard Curtis
If I choose sheer trashy lunacy, something that would make Britney Spears look like a novitiate, then I have to pull my lever for Richard Curtis.
This married, fundie Christian Republican legislator and world-class hater, the joke of Western Washington, shows up one night in his negligee and stethoscope to have some hard-to-picture bareback sex with a down-on-his-luck porn star, named Cody Castegna. Curtis had picked up this kid at a local casino. Dude bargains the boy down to $1000 to have unprotected anal sex— that’s the part that makes me cry— then has the nerve to stiff Cody, and call the police to complain a whore ripped him off!
It strains credibility that Curtis could have done any of this sober, and I am still waiting for the drug investigation— this has "meth fiend" written all over it. Really, the only thing missing was an inflatable sheep, and that might’ve just been left off the report.
(I almost gave my nod to Bob Allen, but I already knighted him in the Best Local category. See how nice I am?)
Runner Up and Possible Reversal: David Vitter
I have a giant caveat in this category, in case you obtain a smoking gun before the 31st.
If there is hard evidence that Senator Vitter is not only a prostitute-lover, but also a diaper fetishist— beyond the call girl hearsay we’ve read so far— then that revelation, along with his hilarious “Pampers Daddy” re-election video, would cinch the whole shit-faced glory of this award's intent.
Vitter is my “if only” winner. You can make him my runner up. Give the straight man his due.
Best Scandal -- General Interest
My pick: George W. Bush
I lost all sense of humor on this one. W.'s the decider, and if we ever nail down what he’s been up to, it’ll make all this other stuff look like dryer lint. This man thinks he’s ordained by someone he calls “God,” and that’s the most outrageous scandal of all.
Gonzalez gets second place for being a pathetic toadie and amoral criminal. Throw the key away.
Your faithful judge,