(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalOne of my goals with year-end stuff is to avoid low hanging fruit, choosing someone like Donald Trump (who, in an act bordering on prescience, I awarded the Lieberman back in 2015), Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Dinesh D'Souza. It's so easy to make the case that such people are terrible that it doesn't even seem interesting or worthwhile to do. As a result, the Lieberman Award more often gravitates toward people like its namesake…sanctimonious Centrist Types who like to be lavished with Sunday talk show invites and talked about as a very important person in a town already crowded with big egos.

It was extremely tempting to give the award, for the first time ever, to a woman and choose Susan Collins, but in the end I could not think of a good reason to differentiate her from Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, or any of the other "Gosh, I sure am disappointed in Trump but I intend to do nothing whatsoever about it and I'll vote in lockstep for everything he wants" types. It was equally tempting to pick Georgia governor-elect Brian Kemp for his egregious attempts (as Secretary of State) to game his own election. Knowing Georgia politics, though, he could have been the nicest, most honest guy on Earth and he would have won that race anyway, which renders all his chicanery somewhat pointless in practice.

Instead, I think it's time to talk about how utterly terrible Chuck Schumer is at his job, and what a shame that someone holding a Senate seat in a state Democrats can't conceivably lose – someone who could be an actual liberal pushing actual left policy ideas without being punished at the ballot box – is held until death by such a ineffectual, stuck-in-2002 guy like him.

The final straw was that Nancy Pelosi gets a lot of criticism from the left for being too centrist and an uninspiring, ineffectual leader. Some of that criticism has come from me. Yet Schumer is demonstrably much worse at his job, and he's not getting leadership challenges or an equal amount of bad press. It's patently false to say "Well nobody criticizes Schumer, only Pelosi!" because people (again, including me) shit on Chuckie all the time. But watching him sail through another confirmation while Pelosi received an actual challenge (albeit from the center, as if being TOO LIBERAL is her problem) clinched it.

Chuck Schumer is forever performing for an audience that, with the possible exception of the national media, does not exist: the person whose primary interest in politics is to see everyone play nice. Outcomes are irrelevant, so long as everyone is nice to one another while the sausage is being made.

OK, that person does exist. I've had the misfortune of attracting some of them on occasion – people whose politics are somehow simultaneously "Donald Trump is the greatest monster who ever lived" and "I value bipartisanship and decorum so Democrats should work together with the monster." I no longer try to make sense of it other than to assume that West Wing melted their brains.

For that small portion of the electorate, though, Schumer is a godsend. The man has literally no spine. He could get shot and his last words when the police asked who shot him would be "Both sides did it." He "both sides-ed" someone yelling at Mitch McConnell in a restaurant the same week a lunatic was mailing bombs – literal bombs – to prominent Democrats. In advance of the Kavanaugh hearings, he agreed to fast-track a dozen Republican judicial appointees ostensibly so Democratic Senate candidates could have more time to campaign.

In the eyes of Chuck Schumer, twelve hardcore Federalist Society conservatives on the court for life is a good trade-off for Claire McCaskill to get an extra week at home for her obviously doomed re-election bid. It's as though he sees his job as caving to Mitch McConnell in the hopes that if he does it enough times, the Senate GOP will eventually play nice in return. It's beyond naive and well into delusional.

When McConnell was the minority leader, he did every single dirty trick, procedural or otherwise, to delay, obstruct, and derail the majority. Schumer is of the breed of centrist yahoos who think that the most important thing to do is to play nice and then score nonexistent electoral points from pointing out that the GOP is not being nice in return. The end result – the one we've been living in for nearly three decades now – is that the Republicans get what they want when in power and Democrats never do. Air Bud dunks the ball over and over again while Coach Schumer points at the rule book and shouts "But a dog isn't allowed to play basketball!"

Chuck Schumer doesn't get this award because he's the worst person. He gets it because he is so completely useless. If he is your negotiator, you don't have a negotiator. You have a guy who comes back to tell you what the other side wants and explains why you need to give it to them.

No, it's not solely his fault. This is an institutional problem in the Democratic Party, which since Bill Clinton's departure has internalized losing and defines victory as getting anything slightly better than the very worst possible outcome. But the guy is in a leadership position and has been for a not-insignificant amount of time. What does he have to show for it? What have been Chuck Schumer's legislative accomplishments? What has he done to make his GOP counterpart so much as break a sweat to enact his own agenda?

And this is apparently the best leader the Senate Democrats are capable of imagining. They look at this guy and think, well this is the best we've got. It's not just a failure of politics; it's a failure of imagination. They've been without a leader for so long that none of them even recognizes that this isn't it.


(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalPicking the very worst person of 2017 is not unlike picking the worst aspect of flying on Spirit Airlines. It spoils us for choice and guarantees that whatever we decide will be deeply unsatisfying to large groups of people with very legitimate grievances. We are forced to play the game of "Who is the worst Nazi" both metaphorically and literally these days, and of course it inevitably ends with the tragicomic realization that the task itself is an exercise in futility.

So, one of my goals here was to avoid the bleedingly obvious and choose someone like Donald Trump (who, in an act bordering on prescience, I awarded the Lieberman back in 2015) or prominent right-wing / fascist media hacks. I came close to choosing Mike Cernovich after, among his many acts of idiocy as a wannabe white supremacist raconteur, he forged legal documents to make it look like one of Chuck Schumer's staffers accused him of sexual harassment. But this year was such a thrill ride down Fuck Everything Boulevard that such ephemera hardly register, lost almost immediately in the screaming miasma of awfulness.

Instead a late entrant to the competition – a Dark Horse of cliches and subconscious white supremacy – takes the coveted award for 2017: the mainstream media journalists who persist, more than a full year after the election, in doing Cletus Safaris. What is a Cletus Safari? It's one of those innumerable, insufferable, "Let's go to Rust Bucket, Ohio and interview the old racist white people who voted for Trump and see what they have to say now" pieces that every major news outlet feels obligated to churn out once per month. "Safari" is an appropriate term because it has every bit of the feel of a journalist venturing into the jungle looking for wild animals or naked Savages. The White Working Class (because editors insisted that some kind of tactful synonym for "Midwestern white trash" would make it sound professional and palatable) is fascinating to Beltway and NYC journalists in a sense that goes far beyond the political and lands firmly in the anthropological.

The allure of these pieces, I admit, is strong. They are click magnets. We all want to point and shout "Look!" when presented with the latest batch of stupid, racist quotes from people whose worldview is a sad amalgam of forwarded emails, Facebook comment sections, Fox News, Breitbart, and increasingly severe delirium tremens. We marvel and laugh – for what else do we have for joy these days except a good schadenfreude laugh? – at the rotund, mustachioed morons as they swear coal is coming back and assert that Trump works real hard while Obama spent all his time golfing and, most recently, think they're going to get a tax cut next year. We read these for the same reason that we watch shows about addiction, hoarding, or bed-bound 1000 pound people – because some part of all of us wants to gawk at freaks, and an even bigger part of us needs to remind itself "At least I'm not THAT fucked up!" when we're feeling down.

But the Cletus Safari is, if I can use an extremely polarizing but appropriate adjective, a deeply problematic piece of journalism. Scratch the surface and you see that while this certainly is an acceptable form of Nelson Muntzing dumb poor people (Since the subjects are inevitably white, white readers don't have to feel guilty for mocking them) it is also a severe distortion of reality that – surprise! – reinforces the perception that what is Real, what counts, and what is truly important is what White Country Folk think. They are, even to doubtlessly left-leaning journalists who write these pieces, the Real America.

The problems with that logic are almost too obvious. One is that almost nobody lives in rural areas anymore, and the kind of Rust Belt city ("city") that inevitably serves as the setting for a Cletus Safari – any fading pile of crap in upstate NY, central PA, Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin will do – is rapidly shrinking. And to the extent that the population of such places is stabilizing or even growing, it is because of the influx of largely Hispanic newcomers moving in. So not only are these old racist white people not representative of America as a whole, they're not even representative of, to take a recent Cletus Safari example, Johnstown, PA (which Hillary Clinton won).

The second problem is that it has long been widely recognized that these people are impervious to facts, and thus there are diminishing returns to pointing out that the things they say and believe are stupid and wrong. We get it.

Third, and most potentially damaging, is the way these pieces reinforce the idea that white opinion and white votes are more valuable. For every one old white asshole living in Janesville, WI waiting for Trump to give him a wall-building job, there are ten Hispanic immigrants from the last 30 years who gained US citizenship but doesn't regularly vote. There are x African-Americans disenfranchised from the political process by legal machinations or earned cynicism from years of Lip Service Only treatment from Democratic politicians. There are millions of young people who see a political process that has nothing to offer them but disappointment and thus they don't vote. The subconscious emphasis of the Cletus Safari – that white idiots must be Won Back somehow, no matter the cost – is the single biggest yoke around the neck of the American left. And we put it on ourselves.

Fourth and finally there is the obvious data-driven reality that Trump didn't win in mythical Trump Country – he won the election in the very white, generally well-off suburbs of major cities. Every Republican does well with the kind of Cletus we keep sticking in front of cameras and microphones if for no reason other than he is ordered to. The bubble in which he lives is carefully structured to produce the same outcome regardless of who has the R next to his name on the ballot. That person is gone, from the Democrats' perspective, and he is never coming back. More crucially – and this is the part they can't get through their heads – it is not worth it to try to get him back when there are so many eligible voters who do not vote because they see nothing for them in the centrist version of the Democratic Party.

A tangential but important point is the way these stories debase the idea of what journalism is ideally supposed to be. Rather than putting a microphone in front of the most well-informed person to be found, this is the culmination of LOL Reportage that looks for the dumbest person and gives him or her a platform. There is ample room for lolz and mockery in the world, and god knows I love it as much as anyone. But consider that what was once a staple of Jay Leno's laziest but consistently funniest on-the-street gag is now common practice for journalists at our most important mainstream media outlets. Not encouraging, is it?

If any piece of journalism purports to show "Real America" then it would show us a diverse array of viewpoints because Real America is diverse. Instead, journalists not only insist on going to places that no longer represent the mean or modal America – Shuttered Mill, WI or Superfund, PA or whatever – but on finding people who are not even "the average person" in those communities. No one denies that "Look at how stupid these old racist white Trumpers are" was funny the first time or two, but after two years of such anthropological studies enough is enough. At some point it stops being funny and begins to reinforce the idea that one kind of person is important, real, and valuable to the political process. That point was long ago reached, and that is why the writers and editors that continue to pump out Cletus Safaris are the very worst people for 2017.

Stop it. We get it. Now stop it. If you really cared about the voices of Real Americans, how about some who aren't white, almost always male, and running out the clock on their shit lives in the land that time forgot.


(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalEnough ink has been spilled over Donald Trump and the people who made his rise to political power possible. I owe you more than to do something as obvious as declare the president-elect the worst human being of 2016. You'd have to go back to Hitler to find an equivalent example of one human being who was so singularly responsible for ruining an entire 12-month period for such a large number of people. But I thought it would be more interesting to take a closer look at someone you heard almost nothing about in comparison, someone you may even have completely forgotten about. Besides, Trump won this award last year.

Why Tim Kaine? What did Tim Kaine ever do to anyone? He was almost a total non-entity in 2016, yet he symbolizes everything that went wrong with Hillary Clinton's campaign and the strain of Democratic Party politics that has proven itself time and again to be a disaster. In the true spirit of the Lieberman Award, Kaine is the embodiment of the New Democrat centrism that sounds suspiciously like being a moderate Republican. His choice as the running mate is, in hindsight, one of the clearest signs that Clinton still doesn't Get It, writ large.

Certainly there are some merits to picking Kaine. He has extensive elected experience which made him a good choice for the Clinton campaign's strategy (which I talked about over the summer) of giving Americans a clear choice between Adults in the Room and a disorganized lunatic. Even with the benefit of hindsight it isn't the worst strategy ever conceived; it simply has the fatal flaw of giving the American public a little bit of credit for intelligence. It is premised upon the belief that voters aren't really going to turn the country over to a lunatic just because they're angry and his opponent is short on charisma. That turned out to be a bad gamble.

Really, what is Tim Kaine but a time capsule from the W Bush era, a Democrat perfectly designed to win a statewide election in a reddish-purple state circa 2006? He is the culmination of the Bill Clinton-led New Democrat movement in the early 90s that posited that the best way for Democrats to win elections was to do most of the things Republicans do but, I dunno, seem a little less bloodless and unhip while doing it? People like Kaine are a way for educated white people to vote for a Republican without having to feel bad about themselves because the name has "D" after it. The turn to Eisenhower Republicanism produced some short-term success for Democrats, but the 2016 Clinton campaign is likely to be its Waterloo.

As another writer put it, Tim Kaine is Civil Unions. Tim Kaine is every half-assed compromise position that New Democrats have proposed over the past 25 years in the belief that what voters really want is a candidate who thinks a lot and kinda refuses to take a firm position on anything. He is the personification of the belief that trying to please all of the people all of the time is both possible and desirable. Is Kaine the worst human being on Earth? Of course not. But he is an excellent case study in a political ideology so bankrupt that it could not stand up against a candidate who ran literally as a joke and was as shocked as anyone that he won anything.
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For everyone who criticized Hillary as a wishy-washy, right-leaning panderer who sees herself as entitled to the nomination of her party, Kaine is Exhibit A. This guy has zero future. He's an anachronism in 2016; by 2020 or 2024 he will be a fossil. He has no appeal to the kind of voters the Clinton campaign as a whole could not rally to their cause. In an increasingly multiracial, urban country, Tim Kaine is the argument in 2004 that what a candidate really needs to do is appeal to enough soccer moms and NASCAR dads.

Tim Kaine may be a nice guy. He has done some impressive things for Virginia and as a civil rights litigator. But as a presidential running mate in 2016 he only reinforced the fatal attachment of a lot of the Democratic Party power structure to a thoroughly outdated and failed set of ideas. He is a relic of the time when the Party could conceive of no other way to win better than to be more like Republicans and hope that real GOPers were personally repugnant enough (and they often were) to repulse voters. He is the poster child for a party faction that stands for nothing because it is so eager to stand for whatever it believes you want to hear from it.

Congratulations, Tim Kaine. You seemingly were cast into the dustbin of history before this campaign was even over, but you will now be immortalized forever as the winner of the 2016 Lieberman Award. Go. Go away. And take Donna Brazile with you.


(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalGin and Tacos and its parent company, Nordyne Defense Dynamics, hold very high standards with respect to the final product you see published here four or five times per week. When we say someone is an asshole, we want you the reader to know that we have done our homework and vetted the subject thoroughly. We aren't going to give you people who are just kind of an asshole. You can rest assured that when we look back at a year and say "This person was an asshole of such magnitude that 2015 was in part defined by how rotten he is at being human," the honor is richly deserved and well earned.

As loathsome as it may be at this point to give Donald Trump additional attention, there really is no other choice for this award. Here is a man who is so much of a asshole that he succeeds in making people like Ted Cruz seem rational and intelligent by comparison. He leads what is a fascist movement in all but name, exposing the ugliest aspects of the American electorate to no end more complex or noble than to bask in the attention it brings him. Here is a man so devoid of principles that he doesn't mind being embraced by the white supremacist movement and spreading its propaganda, operating on the apparent theory that it doesn't matter who follows him as long as he has a following. He may or may not, as Hillary Clinton claimed, be an effective recruiting agent for ISIS but he sure does wonders for the dying American neo-Nazi movement.

There is no doubt that the thrill of having an audience of fans and admirers is a high on which it is easy for a public figure to get hooked; Elia Kazan's 1957 film A Face in the Crowd demonstrates that principle and its deep roots in American politics. But like any addiction it has the ability to rob people of their dignity in the pursuit of the next fix. People with the ability to feel things like shame and self-awareness are confronted with a moral dilemma; how far will I go to get more attention? Will I lie to get it? Will I stoop to appealing to the lowest common denominator? Will I wade into the basest swamps of populism, playing on racism and xenophobia in exchange for the thrill of standing before a crowd of admirers?

Well, Donald "Lonesome Rhodes" Trump doesn't need to worry about any such questions, because in his mind there is no question. There are no issues of morality or decency, only the goal of having cameras and microphones stuck in his face. Anything that accomplishes that goal is, by definition, acceptable behavior. The end result of his egomania, and the sad willingness of the ratings- and hits-hungry media to debase themselves by rewarding it, is the death of the last few vestiges of dignity in American elections. What were already expensive, hyperbolic spectacles of little interest to many voting-eligible Americans have now become fully indistinguishable from reality shows – and not even the higher class of reality shows that require participants to have some sort of talent to put forth for public consumption, but the most vulgar, Real Housewives of Whatever variety driven exclusively by egomania and delusions of grandeur. So that one man can get half-erect from an ephemeral feeling of power, we've turned the process of electing the president of our country (a process already teetering on the brink of credibility in recent years) into a nauseating hybrid of Survivor and a lynch mob.

There is neither use nor interest in criticizing the things Donald Trump says because the words don't even mean anything to him. They are simply his calculation of whatever he can say at a given moment to draw the most attention to himself. And at this he is truly gifted. No one can deny his incredible instinct for self-promotion. His ideology is not an ideology; there is nothing he says that you could not find in YouTube comments posted by 14 year old boys. He says what people who don't think about things believe. And that is why they find him so inspiring. He boasts of "telling it like it is" when even the most cursory look at his life would lead to the conclusion that this man hasn't the slightest experience with reality or How Things Are. Yet the evil genius of it is that his intended audience is far too dumb to consider that, or to care when it is pointed out to them. The kind of person who could convince himself that a spoiled, sociopathic billionaire is the voice that the Common Man really needs is fully prepared to accept any logical impossibility that he decides to embrace.

In short, Donald Trump is not merely a terrible person. He was the terrible person of 2015. God help us, he will probably ruin most of 2016 as well.


(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalGin and Tacos and its parent company, Nordyne Defense Dynamics, hold very high standards with respect to the final product you see published here four or five times per week. When we say someone is an asshole, we want you the reader to know that we have done our homework and vetted the subject thoroughly. We aren't going to give you people who are just kind of an asshole. You can rest assured that when we look back at a year and say "This person was an asshole of such magnitude that he defined 2014 with how rotten he is at being human," the honor is richly deserved and well earned.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is everything wrong with America today, far more so than any cigar stealing Thug or even any trigger happy police officer could ever be. He is old, dying, white America incarnate, struggling mightily to control a country it is no longer capable of understanding and not even willing to try. Bob McCulloch is every gun-hoarding authoritarian personality type who sees a threat in everything and everyone that does not look and behave like himself. Bob McCulloch is the America that is on its way being demographically irrelevant and is attempting to maintain a position of superiority by dominating the institutions of state power to such an extent that their privileges can never be taken away. You know, like white people did in Apartheid-era South Africa.

Bob McCulloch is your uncle who bitches constantly about big government and taxes while every paycheck he has collected in his life has been from the public teat. He is the public's mental caricature of an incompetent, corrupt civil servant, so protected and insulated from the repercussions of his professional actions that he is unwilling even to fake giving a shit if you can see how corrupt he is. Bob McCulloch is the old, bitter white people that dot major cities throughout the Rust Belt; everyone young and financially able has left and now he reigns over a poor, crumbling, crime-ridden corpse of a city and it makes him so bitter and angry, despite his job security and material comfort, that all he can do to make himself feel a little better is lash out at people he considers a rung (or two) beneath him on the social ladder.

McCulloch's press conference on the night that what everyone already knew was announced – that no prosecution of the officer who shot Michael Brown would be forthcoming – was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. It redefined concepts like "brazen" for me and despite watching it at home alone I found myself uttering "Jesus! The balls on this guy!" in sincere wonderment more than once. From his petulant blame-shifting to The Twitters (which, incidentally, I highly doubt he even "gets") and the media to his blatantly dishonest effort to take advantage of the fact that 95% of Americans neither know what a grand jury is nor understand how it works, this was a masterful whitewashing performance by a man who very clearly knows a thing or two about whitewashings. He openly admits that he – actually his underlings, as he never bothered to attend the grand jury proceedings himself – merely threw a sampling of evidence and witness testimony (including testimony he admitted to knowing was false) at the grand jurors and waited until they came to the desired conclusion. That is exactly how the prosecutor's role in no grand jury ever works. But he got up there in front of the cameras as said that anyway because he assumes you don't know that, or if you do he simply doesn't give a shit that you see through the farce. He's untouchable and he knows it, wearing the perpetual smirk of the idiot son put in charge of the family business; everyone knows he's a moron, including him, as surely as everyone knows he's not going anywhere, ever.

The real problem is not Bob McCulloch, at least not beyond the borders of his limited jurisdiction. The problem is that there are hundreds of thousands of Bob McCullochs across this country, each one every bit as incompetent and lousy with prejudices. They have burrowed into every level and every part of the criminal justice system like ticks, from police to the courts to parole offices to administrative departments of every size and color. They probably run your police department, your local district attorney's office, your circuit courts, your state legislature, and anything else that offers a paycheck from the public coffers and a grandfathered-in pension. They all know one thing for certain, that they can tell good people (anyone who looks and thinks like them) from bad people (everyone else). Some part of them understands that this isn't really "Their" country anymore, but they're holding onto the institutions of power until their cold, dead hands are pried off and not a second sooner.

Congratulations to Bob McCulloch and all the Bob McCullochs around the United States. You've earned this award, hiding behind a wall of silence and collusion in homes bought with tax dollars watching a favorite Charles Bronson white revenge fantasy movie on VHS. You wield the instruments of state power like a sculptor does a hammer and chisel, the primary difference being that a sculptor must on occasion be subtle about the application of physical force.


Donald Trump has always been a rich man. Indeed, despite his carefully cultivated image as a financial impresario, "The Donald" (file that under "How to tell if you're an asshole: Referring to self in third person") earned his money the old fashioned way. That is, he inherited it. And somehow the fact that he or his enterprises have declared bankruptcy on three separate occasions has not prevented this country from viewing him as a titan of industry, a brilliant financier who can fix America with the same brilliance that made him a billionaire.

People see Trump this way not because he is a modern J.P. Morgan but because many years ago he became a living, three dimensional version of a cartoon rich guy. He is the closest real-life equivalent to Scrooge McDuck, combining the soullessness of an American plutocrat, the ego of a WWE character, and the class and aesthetic tastes of a Saudi prince. Trump is Tony Montana in Scarface, the man who surrounds himself with the gaudiest, tackiest trappings of wealth he can find and then wonders why no one respects him. As comedy genius John Mulaney notes, Trump is less rich guy than a 1930s hobo's idea of what it would be like to be rich:

John Mulaney – Donald Trump
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But so what? There are thousands of rich guys with inflated opinions of themselves. And why now? These are not new developments; Trump has always been a sad, vain excuse for a human being. He has a long track record of assholery, such as his "Lynch the bastards" attitude toward crime and punishment and his well-documented misdeeds as a landlord and developer. But 2011 was the year in which his pathological need for attention suffocated whatever bits of restraint or good sense were rattling around in his oversized, oblong skull. Thus he made several months of our lives nearly unbearable this past year with his ludicrous, insincere foray into presidential politics for no reason but to get the media and public to pay more attention to him. No, not in the context of a campaign. Just in general. He did all of this to make himself feel important.

Many observers were surprised when Trump threw his hat into the ring of Republican presidential hopefuls. Nothing about Trump's politics had been particularly right wing in the past. In fact, he had to change his position (compared to just a few years ago) on nearly every current political issue in order to pitch himself to the GOP faithful. It struck remarkably few talking heads (or viewers) as odd that a fiftysomething man would have such an all encompassing change of heart, and it soon became apparent that his plan to avoid questions about flip-flopping focused on spewing forth as much lowbrow, pseudo-populist insanity as possible.

While never previously one to support fringe conspiracy theories, Trump discovered that spouting Birtherism garnered him significant attention – much of it negative, but he ain't picky. So he quickly reinvented himself as Mr. Tea Party, the ultimate Obama Skeptic and champion of all things nutty in the realm of foreign or economic policy.
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His stream-of-consciousness dialogue was so bizarre that even most right wingers wondered about his sanity, as when Charles Krauthammer described Trump's idea to invade Middle Eastern nations to take their oil as "the stuff you expect from a guy in a bar at closing time with slurred speech." He became buddy-buddy with leading conservative nutbars like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. And the media ate it all up.

Already enamored with Trump the Celebrity because of his popular reality TV series, the Trump presidential talk dominated the news cycle for months. Each day he sent the media into another frenzy with his latest, craziest sound bites. He polled well for a while, suggesting that some portion of the public might seriously consider the idea of voting for him. Then, as abruptly as his potential candidacy erupted in our public consciousness, he declared that he would not run after all. Some of us speculated that Obama had embarrassed Trump out of contention by providing his full birth certificate, which was no doubt humiliating to the newly minted Birther. The truth was even more shameful, though: the whole idea of a presidential candidacy was fake. It was a cheap publicity stunt for his stupid TV show and for his own ego gratification.
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His announcement of his initial intentions and later his withdrawal from consideration coincided remarkably well with the beginning and end of the spring season of The Apprentice, a show wherein the bloated asshole fake fires washed-up celebrities for, um, "entertainment", if you can call it that. Here's a fun by-the-numbers breakdown of exactly what TrumpMania subjected us to for those months, which might otherwise have been more bearable.

Oh, and of course he's still trying to be relevant in the GOP field and we can expect him to get more vocal about the idea of an independent candidacy when a new season of The Apprentice needs the hype. Trump took an already circus-like election atmosphere and somehow made it worse. We expect the worst candidates (Bachmann, Alan Keyes, etc.) to do this, but we also expect that they're doing it because they want to win the presidency. For Trump, it was nothing but a long promotional tour for the Trump brand, which amounts to little more than his face – with its ridiculous hair, beady snake eyes, and mouth like a puckered asshole – basking in the glow of cameras and microphones.

So kudos to you, Donald Trump. You are an asshole nonpareil. In a year stuffed from stem to stern with cocksuckers, you unhinged your jaw like a snake and managed to outdo them all.


Minnesota is a nice state. Really, it is. I feel compelled to mention this only because for the second year in a row a Minnesotan has emerged from a crowded field to claim the coveted CotY.

2009Back in 2006 I had to make a decision: either this award would go to Joe Lieberman every single year, in which case I might as well just name it the Lieberman Trophy, or I could recognize that Joe Lieberman is and forever shall be the biggest cock-chugger on the face of the Earth and move on to other deserving candidates. There's little doubt that Joe earned it in 2009 like he earns it every year, but for the sake of variety let's just say he has won a lifetime achievement award and move on. It's not like Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann didn't do enough to wrestle the Golden Dildo from Holy Joe's withered, duplicitous mouth.

Michelle Bachmann is the new It Girl of Teabagging – the combination sex symbol / Great Conservative Leader for people who think Sarah Palin is a bit soft and a little too book-smart. Bachmann, like her good friend President Obama, leapt from the state senate to national prominence with astonishing speed, and for good reason. Picture the average Bush-era Republican – Jim DeMint or someone like that – only absolutely barking mad. Picture some sort of teabagger Voltron assembled from a collection of lesser teabaggers. Imagine if a crowd of teabaggers was boiled, their vapors collected and distilled into a single, pure vessel of all the world's batshittery. Michelle stands apart, not only because she is so utterly and unabashedly bonkers but because she actually believes the kind of crap D-list talk radio personalities cynically spout in the quest for ratings. Mark Twain once said that we should picture the intelligence of the average American, and then remember that half of them aren't even that smart. Michelle Bachmann is the official Representative of that bottom half.

"I am fucking insane."

Like all great specimens of pure Bircherite insanity, Bachmann forces us to ask repeatedly, "Is this idiot for real?" It is a reasonable question inasmuch as it is difficult for most people to believe that any one political figure could be so stunningly wrong on every single issue without fail. Bachmann achieves that special, comical level of stupidity that seems to go out of its way to distort reality on those rare instances in which she has any contact with reality at all. There are a lot of wingnuts but none of them are able to go Peak Wingnut across the entire issue spectrum quite like Michelle. Seriously, just pick an issue, any issue, and you can guarantee that Michelle will hop in the Wingnutmobile and mash the accelerator to the floor. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and stamina to churn out that kind of these-go-to-11 insanity every damn day.

Evolution? Need to teach it in public schools. Pell Grants? Not on Michelle's watch. The Pope? Michelle's church teaches that ol' Benedict is the antichrist (as is Obama, so I guess there can be two). Light bulbs? Light bulbs??? Yep, she voted against phasing out incandescents in favor of CFs. ANWR? Drill that motherfucker. Congress itself? Why, it's crawling with people of questionable loyalty to the United States. Where's McCarthy when you need him? Paranoid internet conspiracy theories about a "one world" currency? It's a very important issue to Congresswoman Bachmann. The Census? Nothing but a giant conspiracy by ACORN to get your personal information. Cap and trade? Minnesotans need to be "armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back." After all, "having a revolution every now and then is a good thing." AmeriCorps? A front for mandatory service and "re-education camps for young people." (hilarious side note: her son, who hates her, joined AmeriCorps). Tim Pawlenty? Marxist. Gays and lesbians? Why, they're recruiting your children! Health care reform? Well…

This cannot pass. What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass.


Yeah. As bizarre as this sort of rant might seem, it's really just par for Bachmann's crazy, crazy course. It's hard to point to a single moment at which Michelle unhinged her jaw like a snake and swallowed the massive phallus of indignity to claim this year's award as her own, although any one of her continuous calls for armed revolution might fit the bill. Bachmann's award-winning year is more about reliability; no matter what issue becomes salient or what events transpire we can rely on her to represent the lunatic fringe. You can set your watch by her consistent, surreal insanity. And that counts for something in my book.

Perhaps the real cocksucker is an America that would elect and idolize someone so transparently bonkers. But awards of this magnitude don't go to vaguely defined groups, they go to individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty in their chosen field. Michelle Bachmann's field is being a cocksucker, an insane one at that. Her David Icke-like worldview and that vacant, ten-thousand yard cult leader stare she does so well really help her stand out in a world so rife with cocksuckers. Congratulations, 2009 CotY Michelle Bachmann. You are an asshole nonpareil.


Norm badgeIt was a banner year for assholes. It would take one gigantic cocksucker to claw his or her way over the likes of Hank Paulson, the Palins, Liddy Dole, Ted Stevens, Rod Blagojevich, "Hot Karl" Rove, Joe the Plumber, both Clintons, and more political strategists, campaign managers, and pundits than we can count. Is there any person out there who feels able to answer the call, to remove the Excalibur Dildo from the stone and become its master?

The chair recognizes the Senator from Minnesota.

Norm Coleman spent 2008 with his hands wrapped around Dignity's throat, eventually forcing its head underwater until the bubbles stopped rising. For a man who once lost a gubernatorial race to the pro wrestler who carried the minigun in Predator, it is practically inconceivable that he could go downhill from there. Like a 16th Century explorer, Coleman decided that the only way to find out if an elected official's career could get any worse was to provision some wooden ships, crew them with a few hundred stout men, and set sail for the edge of the map.

Coleman, widely recognized to be one of the most humorless puds on the planet (and one who looks strangely like the offspring of John Kerry and a yardstick), decided that the way to compete with comedian and former SNL writer Al Franken was to out-funny him with cute campaign ads. Rather than striking a serious tone to make Franken look like an amateurish joke candidate, Coleman managed to make himself look like the amateur. In a thousand years scientists may understand how a United States Senator managed to look rinky-dink in a race against a smug comedian, but for the moment we remain baffled.

Among his many ads attempting to be funny, the pièce de résistance of Coleman's idiocy was one entitled "Why Not?" The ad features three actors playing dipshit slobs in bowling shirts (you know, the condescending caricature of how six-figure DC political consultants see "average voters") discussing Franken's many failings in a ridiculously affected and overdone "Superfans" accent. That's how we dress and how we talk! The commercial ends with the alpha-Grabowski suggesting that they run for Senate themselves…why not? They're just as qualified as Franken!!! It's not the most offensive ad you'll ever see, but it sets a new mark for inanity which may not soon be equalled.

Coleman's campaign is perfectly represented in his ads, a mixture of mouth-frothing attacks and attempts at humor which appear to have been conceived, approved, and executed by a council of stroke patients. One commercial break might feature "Angry Al", painting Franken as an unstable, profane lunatic while the next break would bring the cloying Leave it to Beaver comedy of "Got It," which may be the first ad to close with an image of the candidate hunching over a garbage can. In a remarkable synthesis of the two styles, Coleman sunk to new depths in "Excuses", in which an 8 year-old girl clutching a teddy bear hurls insults at Franken before closing with a "My dog ate it" joke. A sampling of Coleman's advertisements leave open the very serious question of whether or not he has ever met another human being.

Running the kind of campaign that makes Americans hate politics so goddamn much, one that simultaneously insults their intelligence and bombards them with vile rhetoric, is nothing new. It's certainly not enough to win a nondescript political figure the CotY. However, what Coleman did after Election Day elevated him from mere ass clown to the rarefied air of the legitimate cocksucker.

Let's say you play a basketball game and at the end of four quarters the score is tied. Do we play overtime or does one team simply demand that the other concede defeat? If you're Norm Coleman, and perhaps only if you're Norm Coleman, the latter is the correct choice. Faced with an almost incomprehensibly close outcome on Election Eve, Coleman simply declared victory even though Minnesota law mandates an automatic recount in the unlikely event of a race this close. He indignantly demanded that his opponent waive "his right" to a recount to – get this – to save the taxpayers the cost of re-counting the ballots. Those fiscal conservatives! Note well that it isn't the candidate's "right" that produces recounts; it's the voters' right and the state's right and responsibility to make sure that we figure out who actually won the goddamn election. Semantics, of course.

Once the recount got underway Coleman really reached into his bag of Asshole, instantly transforming from a nondescript, robotic putz into the incarnation of Nixonian paranoia coupled with right-wing Talk Radio fury. When Franken gained votes in the recount Coleman's leeches helpfully noted that it was producing "improbable shifts that are overwhelmingly accruing to the benefit of Al Franken." The Secretary of State is a Democrat, proving indisputably and for all time that the process is overwhelmingly slanted to Franken's benefit. Campaign lawyer and professional jagoff Fritz Knaak knoted that the integrity of the process had been "breached" and that "the supercharged environment we're in leads us to suspect everything." Nixon would be proud. Knaak and Coleman concocted one baseless charge after another, including the infamous "ballots in the car" story that led Bill O'Reilly to confidently claim "the fix is in" long after Knaak, Coleman, and Gov. Pawlenty admitted that it was not true.

Like all people who go too far in politics, Coleman's party eventually turned on him. Gov. Pawlenty took to the talk shows defending the integrity of the recount and rebuking Coleman for "throwing gasoline on the fire" of the Talk Radio histrionics. One of Minnesota's most prominent right-leaning newspapers editorialized:

It's hard to believe we're writing this, but it's clear that Franken – known for his over-the-top humor and partisan antics – is the one acting with class in this serious situation. Voters, indeed, deserve to know the outcome of a recount. It's not up to those who may or may not be the winner.

With Franken in the lead Coleman did exactly as we would expect by taking his fight to court. While the merits of his legal argument are outside of my jurisdiction, the fact remains that the courts' rulings in Coleman's favor have not put him back in the lead. He will continue to drag the race out into 2009, making it likely that Congress will be sworn in before the outcome is known in Minnesota.

What a year, Norm. What? There's MORE? Yeah, apparently this fucker is as corrupt as a cheap hard drive.

CREW named him one of the most corrupt men in Congress after it was revealed that he lived rent-free in Washington on the tab of a Republican consultant who has been paid almost $2 million from Coleman's PAC and, in a completely unrelated hiring decision, who hired Coleman's wife as a "consultant" to the tune of $101,000. Not salacious enough for you? Well, now the FBI is on Coleman like glue over allegations and hard evidence that an Iranian millionaire (I'm not making this up) from Bloomington, MN named Nasser Kazeminy used an offshore oil drilling company called Deep Marine Technology to funnel $75,000 to Coleman through Hays Insurance, a company whose employees consist of…Coleman's wife (who, I shit you not, invented and markets something called the "Blo & Go"). The Deep Marine CEO and shareholders blew the whistle, telling the FBI that no insurance or services were rendered by Hays. Coincidentally, and much to the delight of the wealthy investor behind a drilling company called Deep Marine Technology, Coleman introduced a bill in the Senate on June 12 calling for more offshore drilling in US waters.

Norm Coleman, holy shit. You are one enormous cocksucker. You managed to excel at being lame, condescending, dirty, hysterical, paranoid, and crooked all in the span of a few months. Most people (Blagojevich for example) can only handle one at a time. And Norm, if you think that I am about to make a joke based on the phrase "handle more than one at a time" in an essay about how much wang you suck, well, unlike your campaign ads I tend to work a bit harder than that for comedy. Congratulations, 2008 CotY Norm Coleman. May your trip home from Washington and, eventually, into Federal prison be a smooth one.


This was a bad year for people named "Bill."

Bill Kristol has always been a smirking jackass with a record of making claims unrelated to fact and predictions as accurate as the average $2.99/min phone psychic. This year, however, he left the sheltered fantasy world of the right-wing print media and took his idiocy to the New York Times. A weekly gig with the Grey Lady put a stamp of mainstream legitimacy on Kristol's fact-free brand of commentary. Unfortunately for Bill it also took away his home field advantage. He would be exposed to an audience that would actually care if his incessant, off-cuff predictions turned out to be wrong every week and a publication that would check his facts. The world waited to see if Kristol could make himself a real commentator rather than a print version of Rush Limbaugh. Was he up to the challenge?

No. No he wasn't. He brought the same old shit to a medium that was unequivocally uninterested in putting up with his shit.

Kristol misattributed a quote in his very first NYT column, something that would earn a sophomore journalism student an F and a serious opprobrium. If there's anything more pitiful that quoting Michelle Malkin in a major publication it is misquoting Michelle Malkin in a major publication. Oh, and his welcome-to-the-big-leagues world premiere column in the Times (entitled "President Mike Huckabee?") also showcased his preternatural understanding of politics. Aside from the brilliant premise that Huckabee's campaign was going somewhere, the column opens with Kristol's first words as a Times author:

Thank you, Senator Obama. You’ve defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you’re about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration.

If that isn't the most fitting and appropriate way to start his new gig, I don't know what is. His editors would need to bail him out again two months later when he based a column on an Obama anecdote that never happened. Correction #2. Before his job was six months old he necessitated a third correction with a double-whammy of errors on May 19th. Heckuva job, Billy.

Most of us would be satisfied to be a shitty journalist, unreadable columnist, and moronic pundit. Not Bill Kristol. In 2008 he decided that he is also a (shitty) political strategist. We are all familiar with the story of how a 2007 Neocon Love Boat cruise resulted in Sarah Palin becoming Kristol's project, protege, and bright hope for the future of conservatism. While it may be an overstatement to claim that Kristol is responsible for McCain's choice of Palin, it wouldn't be entirely wrong either. He was at the very least her talent scout and salesman, using her name in an astounding 57 Weekly Standard pieces in the next year. Having convinced the flagging GOP to accept Palin, he publicly masturbated about her for weeks without disclosing his role in her selection. He noted that gas prices would immediately fall when the grateful world heard of her nomination and that she reminded him an awful lot of FDR. He objectively covered her selection with a post-convention Times column entitled 'A Star is Born', a paean every bit as nauseating as the title leads one to believe. After her televised campaign to convince the electorate that she is the biggest idiot on the planet succeeded Kristol proved to be a loyal dead-ender, defending her to the death and accusing the McCain campaign of mishandling its amazing asset. Everyone was to blame for the trainwreck except the conductor.

Kristol's gig with the Times represents the worst, most cynical kind of tokenism among legitimate media outlets. "Fairness" and "objectivity" require that at least one person must be kept around to represent the conservative "viewpoint" – not to make logical arguments or deal in facts, just to represent the opinions of the talk radio crowd. If Kristol was the paper's effort to move beyond tokenism and add a real, serious, intellectual conservative in the mold of Buckley or Safire it is difficult to overstate how overwhelmingly the plan failed. He humiliated himself and his paper, although it can be argued quite easily that the latter got exactly what it deserved. Wrong-about-everything conservative columnists are abundant. Bill Kristol separated himself from the pack, sucking just a few extra inches, by deciding that he was the new kingmaker of the conservative movement. A person can be a token right-wing windbag at a major newspaper without being right about anything. The same cannot be said for the role of political Godfather, a fact that Bill and the people who took his advice failed to appreciate with predictably disastrous results.


It's possible that I'm being too harsh on our 42nd President. Surely one could cite many more egregious examples of cocksuckery in 2008. But the fact is that certain people have grown tiresome as targets of derision. Like a historian would grow weary of discussing Hitler in response to "Who was the worst person of the 20th Century?" I am similarly unenthusiastic about pointing out for the billionth time that Bush, Cheney, O'Reilly, Lieberman, Hannity, and so on are cocksuckers. I would be one lazy bastard (and you probably would not bother to read this site) if I sat here and wrote that Michelle Malkin is real stupid and Bill O'Reilly does not often represent opposing viewpoints fairly. Come on.

So the Bronze Penis for 2008 goes to a man whose qualifications for the award were considerably more nuanced and quickly forgotten in the roiling wake of an Obama victory. It's a good thing that Barack Obama did not need Bill Clinton's help in this election because Willie made it abundantly clear that if Obama were on fire he would not walk across the street to piss on him and extinguish the flames.

Did Bill Clinton pull a Lieberman and actively crusade against his party's nominee? Of course not. You'd have a better chance of catching Bill having sex with his legally-recognized spouse than on the trail with Sarah Palin. Instead he engaged in what could only be described as an extended and remarkably juvenile fit of pouting after it became clear that his wife he would not be going back to the White House except as a potential dinner guest. He pouted because the entirety of Hillary's campaign was, in Bill's mind, about Bill.

He began the year by proving himself unworthy of the credit he received for moving politics beyond race in the 1990s when he explained away Barack Obama's primary victory in South Carolina by helpfully noting that Jesse Jackson also won South Carolina (wink wink!) in 1984 and 1988. He became the leading advocate of the Hillary campaign's desperate and Republicanesque persecution complex, arguing that the nomination (which rightfully belonged to her, of course) was stolen away by the evil, biased media and a new version of the vast right-wing conspiracy with Obama in the role of Kenneth Starr. He told voters that Obama didn't love his country nor was he committed to its interests. He urged his wife's campaign to hold out to the bitter end, to fight long past the point at which the nomination was obtainable outside of a courtroom because unknown, untested, vaguely foreign dark guy Barack Obama would be an unmitigated disaster for his party as the nominee and for the nation as President.

Once the Clinton camp finally admitted defeat, Bill's actions suggest that "team player" is not the best phrase we could use to describe him. His June 24th endorsement of the nominee, which came forth only after considerable media and party arm-twisting, was a one-sentence monument to ambivalence written by an unpaid intern:

President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next President of the United States.

No, that isn't actually an endorsement, but it's what we had to work with. He could be cowed into making a press release but a real, honest-to-god public endorsement was months away. While stingy with his praise for Obama, he did find the time to give a speech lauding John McCain's "visionary" position on global warming and to excuse the Republican nominee's lame-assed proposal to postpone the presidential debates as being "in good faith." He got himself invited onto The View and Letterman to showcase his spectacular ability to "stump for" the nominee without using his name or praising him. Yes, such non-statements were the bitter pill our former President had to swallow in order to indulge his narcissistic obsession with being on national TV.

It was not until October – well past the point at which it would actually be useful in this election – that Bill truly stumped for Obama, using his popularity in Florida to campaign as a surrogate. He even made a joint campaign appearance with the nominee…six days before the election, timing that reeks more of grabbing the last available seat on a bandwagon than making a good-faith effort to help.

Bill's sudden change of heart in October is likely a result of two things. First, he had weeks – nay, months – to sit around and sulk about the outcome of the primaries. Presumably he got over it, at least a little bit. Second, and far more importantly, deals were no doubt cut with Hillary shortly before or during the Democratic Convention to give her a high-visibility Cabinet position. It wouldn't be as good as the White House, but it'd give Bill a reasonable excuse (and ample opportunity) to get his mug on the evening news with some regularity.

And that's really what 2008 was all about for Bill Clinton: a quest to circumvent the inconvenient Constitutional reality that he can no longer be the leader of the free world. He took his wife's defeat personally because he didn't see it as her defeat. It was his. He assumed that America shared his view of the arrangement, that we were voting for Hillary only because we couldn't do what we really wanted to, i.e. vote for him. We all know that he and his wife are in a cold, cynical marriage in which each sees the other solely as an avenue to power. He was her surrogate in the 1990s and now he was only too happy to reverse roles. Failing that, he wanted a Democratic nominee who would need him, who would count on him and his unparalleled popularity among middle-class voters to deliver a victory. A candidate who needed Bill would owe him big. But Bill got neither. His surrogate was defeated and the nominee readily supplanted the former President's role as Most Popular Democrat on Earth. Obama became what Bill Clinton has been for the past sixteen years – the name and face of the Democratic Party. Such a transition is natural and inevitable. It certainly needn't spell the end of Bill's public life and political influence. But as far as torch-passings go, Bill Clinton v.2008 left more than a little to be desired in the grace department and nothing to be desired in the cocksucking department.