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 the nation’s worst elected leaders, then separated them into five categories: hatemongers, sleazeballs, blowhards, users and boozers, and horn dogs.
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 Gov. Rick Scott, who will be up for re-election soon, 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” Mark Sanford made the list. So did Texas’ Green Eggs and Ham filibusterer Ted Cruz. Even Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump manage to make an appearance.
So before you head out for the fireworks or swig some American brew, consider this hall of shame.