(Just a quick note: I felt like we all outgrew the previous name of the annual award given to the worst example of a human being, so it has been re-named in honor of perennial finalist and one-time winner Joe Lieberman. I'd like to take a moment to recognize Senator Lieberman for his long career of being a d-bag. If you're having a rough day, sit back and remember that Joe Lieberman is no longer an elected official. That's something.)

medalElection years are absolutely lousy with assholes, and the selection process for this award is a veritable embarrassment of shitheads. This year we met Jerry Sandusky (and his facilitators), E.L. James, Gotye, Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, and perennial favorites like David Brooks, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. How does one choose a single name from that pantheon of human detritus? This isn't even accounting for bleedingly obvious choices like Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, and Eric Cantor pretty much any House Republican. And that's not even expanding the search outside of the United States.

I was very tempted to offer the award to Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler (oh, go ahead and just try to guess which party) for running on a jihad against the nonexistent problem of "voter fraud"…and then using public funds to travel to the RNC and to a voter suppression conference administered by an association of right-wing lawyers. Then I strongly considered Karl Rove, who challenged Budd Dwyer for the title of Most Emphatic Suicide on Live Television on election night. In reality, though, it was way too entertaining and enjoyable to serve as a year defining act of assholery.

Though I dislike the idea of giving the award to more than one person, the honest choice for 2012 has to be the GOP Rape Caucus – the candidates for the House and Senate who decided that the best way for the GOP to stay ahead of the social and demographic changes in the electorate is to take really, really batshit insane positions on abortion. Furthermore, if there's anything women voters (or non-voters) love, it's when a gray, wrinkled, dour-faced 65 year old white guy explains to them what rape is along with his special theories on the workings of the female reproductive system.

Three men in particular drove home this point in 2012. First, Todd Akin rejected exceptions in abortion legislation for rape because women cannot become pregnant from rape ("From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.") Never before has the phrase "maybe that didn't work or something" been more indicative of a person's intellectual underpinnings. Richard Mourdock, running in a slam dunk Senate race in Indiana, then decided to tell everyone that pregnant rape victims should be forced to have the baby. Now there's a popular stance! Then Joe Walsh, running in a safe Illinois congressional district, told us that abortion is never necessary to protect the life and health of a pregnant woman. Tell us more, fellas!

Just so we're all clear, these three old rich white guys want to stand before rape victims and tell them you have to have that child. Because I said so. You take it from here, Joe Pesci in Raging Bull:

You've heard of Akin and Mourdock, but they were hardly alone among GOP Senate candidates in 2012. Turns out that 12 of the 33 opposed rape/incest provisions in abortion legislation. Akin and Mourdock became the poster boys for today's Republican: a reactionary, sanctimonious Know-Nothing trying his damnedest to drag the United States back to the 18th Century.

Their actions are in keeping with the smug, self-satisfied, and unctuous tradition of Joe Lieberman himself. Truly they are assholes of year-defining proportions.