King George III was “a Tyrant… unfit to be the ruler of a free people,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence exactly 238 years ago this week.
Tommy had it right.
Ever since then, Americans have been calling out their leaders. “Tyrant” was just the start. We’ve moved on to crook (Nixon), liar (Clinton), and moron (Dubya).
Whether or not you agree with the peanut gallery, there’s no denying that such written assaults on public honchos are as American as baseball, apple pie, and the iPhone.
So on this Independence Day, those closest to American politics — 50 writers and editors of the alternative press from across the land — have combined their collective genius. They’ve named 53 of the nation’s worst elected leaders from 23 of the largest states and the District of Columbia, then separated them into five categories:
Visit our news blog Runnin’ Scared for our selections for worst elected leaders in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
And there’s more than just the usual stodgy Washington losers. Try Colorado sheriff Terry Maketa, who allegedly had sex with not one, not two, but three underlings and then lied about it. Or check out Idaho Senate GOP leader John McGee, who stole and crashed an SUV, admitted to drinking too much, and went to jail. Upon returning to the statehouse, he was accused of groping a female staffer.
Want a little old-school corruption? Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, who will soon be up for re-election, founded a health-care empire that was whacked with the largest Medicare fraud fine in U.S. history: $1.7 billion for stealing from the feds. There’s also Washington, D.C. council member Michael Brown, who once accepted $200,000 to stay out of an election and was later indicted after grabbing at a cash-stuffed duffel bag offered by an undercover FBI agent.
Of course, there are big names here too. South Carolina’s “Luv Guv” Terry Sanford made the list. So did Texas’ Green Eggs and Ham filibusterer Ted Cruz and Minnesota loon Michele Bachmann. We even snuck wannabe pol Donald Trump snuck in a side door.
So before you head out for the fireworks or swig some American brew, consider this hall of shame.
Read the full story in this week’s Village Voice: “America’s Worst Politicians“
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 2, 2014