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7 States Where the Levels of Corruption and Ideological Madness Have Gotten Beyond Embarrassing

Exposing the incompetence and corruption in Illinois, California, New York, Texas and more.

Ideological hijinks, bipartisan incompetence and outright corruption have infected state capitals -- and mortified citizens -- across the U.S. Is there a cure? has supplyied a dose of satire.

State of Embarrassment — Virginia

How gun laws, Confederate History Month and a statue of Stalin contribute to the citizen embarrassment level in Virginia.

You Probably Heard About: The gun laws. This spring, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation allowing “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded handguns” into bars — as long as the holders don’t drink. But the gun lobby wants the law to go further, so folks can carry and drink. Also, lawmakers proclaimed April Confederate History Month without mentioning, uh, slavery. McDonnell apologized for the “major omission” and cited the Assembly’s 2007 statement of “profound regret” for slavery. Which should fix everything.

But Did You Know: There’s now a Stalin bust at the National D-Day Memorial! That’s right, boys and girls, while most of Europe has been tearing down monuments to the genocidal dictator for decades, the tiny town of Bedford, Va., is just getting around to putting one up. And why not? Stalin signed a pact with Hitler before he joined the Allies; Russians didn’t participate in D-Day; and he killed an estimated 20 million people during his reign. Na Zdorov’ye!

They Said It: “Having Stalin in our backyard, people are really upset about that.” — Karl Altau, managing director at the Joint Baltic American National Committee, which has protested the Stalin bust.

The Silver Lining: During the 2008 presidential campaign, the brother of Republican nominee John McCain, Joe McCain, dismissed Northern Virginia as “Communist Country.” With the Stalin bust now up in Bedford, near the border with West Virginia, Communist Country just got a whole lot bigger …

Citizen Embarrassment Level: Red with shame. Just who the hell is this Stalin character, anyway? There are several Civil War generals who would have looked just fine up there.

State of Embarrassment — Illinois

How former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state corruption in general affect the citizen embarrassment level in Illinois.

You’ve Probably Heard About: Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Impeached and indicted for trying to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Blago is also accused of plenty else, like withholding government money from a children’s hospital until its leaders gave him $50,000 in donations. Alas, that didn’t stop the ex-governor from launching his own website and appearing on the reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice.

But Did You Know: The state’s previous governor was also a crook! When he was secretary of state, Republican George Ryan took bribes in exchange for licenses, contracts and leases. Ryan was eventually sentenced to more than six years in prison. As one Illinois journalist put it, “Instead of selling license plates, he gets to make them.”

They Said It: “There will be a Blagojevich odor in the air, and it will be with us day after day, like political Muzak.” — David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, raising the difficult question: What, exactly, does Muzak smell like?

The Silver Lining: Blagojevich’s successor as governor, Pat Quinn, touts his VIP membership card at Super 8 motels as a testament to his integrity and frugality. Alas, local reporters discovered that the incentive program ended five years ago. So there’s hope yet that Quinn turns into the deceitful cheat Illinois knows he can be.

Citizen Embarrassment Level: Grimly resigned. Government graft and illegal quid pro quos are as ingrained in the state psyche as the Cubs losing. Some things don’t change.

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