The 2011 Public Misconduct Awards
December 29, 2011By Dick Polman
Let's bid goodbye (and good riddance) to 2011. The envelopes, please!
Toxic pollution source most in need of strong EPA regulation: The flapping mouth on the face of Donald ("Everybody that even gives a hint of being a birther, even a little bit of a hint, like, gee, you know, maybe, just maybe this much of a chance, they label them as an idiot. Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy") Trump.
A laminated map of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan is awarded to Herman Cain, whose stint atop the Republican heap lasted scarcely longer than Sinead O'Connor's latest marriage.
And she probably heard somewhere that masturbation causes blindness. Michele Bachmann confidently declared that the popular HPV vaccine, which has inoculated millions of young girls against a cancer-causing virus, is actually a public menace that triggers mental retardation in those who have been inoculated. Dr. Bachmann says she learned this from a random woman who approached her after a debate. There has not been a single documented case of mental retardation.
The Edward R. Murrow Award for Public Service Journalism goes to Wolf Blitzer, who confronted Anthony Weiner last spring and said: "You would know if this is your underpants." Such is the state of public discourse today. Wolf had no choice, actually, because the Democratic congressman kept insisting that he didn't know whether the underpants in the tweeted photo were, in fact, his underpants.
Lies that made us LOL: When family-values congressman Christopher Lee was caught cruising for chicks online - he'd flashed his bare torso and advertised himself as divorced, whereas, in reality he was married with a son - he claimed at first that his email had been hacked by pranksters. Then his press flak insisted, "The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture." Lee quit his seat, but he will be forever known as the House Republican with the most buff six-pack.
The 2011 scandal most worthy of a plot arc on "Breaking Bad." A federal operation at the southwestern border, known as Fast and Furious, allowed U.S. weapons to illegally pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so that the arms could be traced to higher-ups in the Mexican drug cartels. Weird idea. And the result? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has lost track of roughly 2000 firearms - many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a border patrol agent. Obama-haters naturally see this scandal as akin to Watergate, and clearly there was lax oversight from ATF leaders in Washington. But the ATF's failures are bipartisan. The bureau has had five acting directors in the past six years.
The Cheech and Chong Stoner Award goes to Rick Perry, who essentially said, "Whoa, man, uh, you know, like, I think there are some Cabinet departments I want to kill off on my very first day in office? One of 'em being, uh, Commerce, and the second being - hey, do you hear that music? has that been playing this whole time? you have any munchies? - anyway, yeah, it's Education, and then there's a third one....hang on, what was I just talking about?"
The King James Bible Award ("For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind") goes to Newt Gingrich. Hammered in Iowa by a slew of TV attack ads, Newt has been whining about the unfairness of it all - "I object to repetitive smear campaigns" - forgetting, of course, that he sowed that tactic during his early '90s rise to power. In the recent words of ex-Newt colleague and former House Republican heavyweight Mickey Edwards, "More than any other man alive, he is responsible for creating the non-stop partisan warfare that has made American government so dysfunctional."
The Christine O'Donnell Shoe-in-Mouth Award naturally goes to Christine O'Donnell, the '10 tea-party fave whose Herman Cainish ineptitude cost the Republicans a winnable Senate seat in Delaware. She resurfaced this autumn to endorse Mitt Romney, offering high praise: "He's been consistent since he changed his mind." No word yet on whether Mitt would consider using her as a surrogate in, say, rural Wyoming.
In George Orwell's classic book 1984, the totalitarians expunged inconvenient facts by sending them down the "memory hole." Accordingly, Ron Paul wins the Orwellian Spirit Award for something he just did. Paul has long been a magnet for nutcases, which is why he was recently endorsed by Phillip Kayser, a right-wing pastor who believes that gay people should received the death penalty for being gay. Early this week, Ron Paul's campaign website was trumpeting Kayser's endorsement. But yesterday, in the wake of news stories about Kayser and his hate agenda, the Paul tech team erased all mention of the endorsement. Presto, down the memory hole - but not entirely. Online, everything stays forever. Unlike Orwell's totalitarians, the Paulites were busted by Google cache.
Is it geologically feasible to blast more rock for another face on Mount Rushmore? In an interview on 60 Minutes, President Obama took the opportunity to rank himself as the fourth most accomplished president in the annals of America ("I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history"). No word yet on whether, in the wake of a re-election loss, he'd settle for his face on a coin.
Clearly, the skunk at the picnic was John Ensign, the family-values senator and vocal defender of traditional marriage who quit his seat this year after sleeping repeatedly with the wife of one of his top aides. He addressed his colleagues during a goodbye speech on the Senate floor: "I would like to take a moment to apologize for what you have had to go through as a result of my actions. I know that many of you were put in difficult situations because of me, and for that I sincerely apologize...my colleagues, I bid you farewell." One problem: none of his Republican colleagues showed up to whiff the skunk. The chamber was virtually empty. He did manage, however, to thank his family for their "support" - a wise move, since his dad and mom had previously paid out $96,000 in hush money to the cuckolded aide.
Senator Jon Kyl wins the collected works of essayist Francis Bacon, who famously warned, "It is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt." The GOP bigwig declared on the Senate floor that abortions are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." The true abortion statistic, at least in the realty-based community, is three percent. When a Kyl flak was asked to explain why the senator was off by 87 percent, the flak replied that Kyl's remark "was not intended to be a factual statement." Has there ever been a truer admission about Washington lying? Take it away, Francis Bacon: "There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious."
Oh for pete's sake, lighten up and give it a rest: Two Democratic South Carolina lawmakers are ticked off that the Republican governor has instructed state agency workers to answer the phone by saying "It's a great day in South Carolina, how can I help you?" The two Dems have introduced a bill that would bar the "great day" greeting until the jobless rate falls below five percent and all citizens have health insurance. Yes, folks, we're so polarized these days that even an innocuous variation of have-a-nice-day is grist for a skirmish. But perhaps we'll enjoy a more benign 2012.
Right. And maybe the Beatles will reunite.
This is my last post of 2011. Party on this weekend (safely, of course), and I'll see you all on the flip side.