Readers of a certain age might remember Esquire magazine’s Dubious Achievement Awards. Sadly, the annual feature was discontinued for good in 2008; but fortunately, other publications and websites carried on the tradition.
My version, which concentrates on political dubious achievements, was originally intended as an end-of-the-year column. However, the Republicans contributed so much material in so short a time that I already have enough for a special edition.
Without any further ado, the winners are…
Silliest Argument Against Legalizing Pot and Worst New Phrase of 2014 (double winner)
After admitting that he smoked marijuana as a young man, David Brooks argued that no one else should legally do so because legalization would harm our nation’s “moral ecology.” Maybe one has to smoke a joint or two to understand what “moral ecology” means.
Dumbest Objection to the Common Core Standards
Al Melvin, a Republican state senator from Arizona, earns the award by arguing that the Common Core’s math standards use “fuzzy math” because they substitute letters for numbers in some examples. Wait until he discovers that this is “algebra,” and that the word is derived from Arabic.
Biggest Act of Thuggery By a Member of Congress
Congressman Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island who, inside the Capitol, told a television reporter, “I will break you in half”, and reportedly threatened to throw him over a balcony. Maybe he’s angling for the number-two spot on a Chris Christie fantasy ticket.
Speaking of Governor Christie, the…
Flimsiest Excuse for Bad Behavior by a Public Official
…was offered by Fox News’s Brit Hume, who argued that Christie isn’t a bully but rather is a victim of our culture’s “feminized atmosphere”. Wrong, Brit. He’s a bully.
Most Far-Fetched Economic Argument Against Legal Abortion
Congressman Bob Goodlate, a Virginia Republican, contended that banning abortion creates jobs because it results in more children which in turn results creates more jobs because someone has to care for those children. Yes, you heard that right.
Creepiest Justification of Date Rape
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal offered this fractured analogy: “If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault.”
Least-Prepared Witness at a Legislative Hearing
Annapolis, Maryland, Police Chief Michael Pristoop, who opposed legalizing marijuana, told the State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee he’d found a news story which reported that 37 people in Colorado had died of overdoses the very day that state legalized marijuana. The story was a spoof that appeared on the online comedy magazine The Daily Currant.
Most Flagrant Prosecutorial Overreach by Someone Who Isn’t a Prosecutor
Michele Bachmann, stepping up to the defense of the Koch brothers (she thanked God they were on her side), told Conservative Political Action Conference attendees that Democrats should be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization statute for–get this–“intimidating billionaires.” For this extravagant interpretation of RICO, Bachmann deserves to have her law degree revoked nunc pro tunc.
Zaniest Witness List in a Federal Court Trial
In a trial on the constitutionality of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, Attorney General Bill Schuette, called Douglas Allen, a Canadian economist, as a witness. During cross-examination, Allen said that those who engage in homosexual acts and don’t repent will burn in Hell. Schuette also called University of Texas professor Dr. Mark Regnerus, whose work is so flawed that U-T publicly disavowed his views. And to complete the trifecta, Schuette tried to put a philosopher named Sherif Girgas on the stand to offer his views on marriage. The judge refused to qualify him as an expert witness because he’s still in school.
Most Egregious Violation of Godwin’s Law
Venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who compared the Occupy movement to Kristillnacht. Soon afterward, Perkins earned himself a first-class ticket on the crazy train by advocating the repeal of universal suffrage.
Most Acute Case of Cold War Nostalgia
At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Sarah Palin offered the following solution to the Ukraine crisis. She said, “Mr. President, The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.” Just what we need, Wayne La Pierre with warheads.
Finally, the Paul Ryan “I Got Mine, Jack” Award
Josh Miller, a Republican lawmaker from Arkansas, opposed the expansion of his state’s Medicaid program arguing, among other things, that recipients might abuse their prescription drugs. It was a supreme act of chutzpah on the part of Miller, who years earlier was seriously injured in an alcohol-related traffic crash. Since he wasn’t insured, Medicaid wound up paying most of the $1 million tab for his care and rehabilitation.