15 Most Loathsome People of 2008
The Buffalo Beast has released its 50 Most Loathsome People in America list for 2008. We here at AlterNet rounded up 15 people from their list that we thought most deserved the insulting honor. Read through our top picks from their list, go check out the Beast's full list, and then drop some of the folks you think are the most loathsome people in America in the comments below. Happy hunting.
15. Michele Bachmann
Charges: Exemplifies the simmering, all-American fascism lurking behind the forced smiles of uptight church ladies throughout "real America." Echoing Sarah Palin's alarming hints about "helping" the media do its job, Bachmann's casual call for a "penetrating" press investigation into "anti-Americanism" in congress was so fucking dumb it made Chris Matthews seem smart. Once it occurred to the Oral Roberts University graduate that calling for witchhunts against Democrats might be a tad extreme for election season, she decided to just pretend she didn't say it, and then she blamed Chris Matthews. Then she just blamed words. Then she denied it again. Then she won. Way to go, Minnesota's 6th.
Exhibit A: BACHMANN: Actually, that's not what I said at all. COLMES: Well, I'm just -- I'm reading your exact quote. BACHMANN: Actually that's not I said. It's an urban legend that was created. That isn't what I said at all. COLMES: We have -- it's on tape.
Sentence: Assigned to conduct her own "expose" on anti-American views, in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
14. Bernie Madoff
Charges: Normally, the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowments, and is responsible for two suicides so far. Here’s a tip, Bernie: If you’re running the biggest scam since the Catholic church, handling billions of dollars, and all it takes to get busted is that some of your marks ask for their money back, you really should take some of that money and set up an escape plan. Still, he gets some credit for making Mort Zuckerman look like a jackass. The real villains here are Christopher Cox and the SEC, who investigated Madoff eight times, the last time specifically on suspicion of running a Ponzi scheme, each time “finding” no wrongdoing, which begs the all-too-familiar question of the last eight years: Satanically corrupt or grossly incompetent? Either way, Madoff was finally brought to justice… by his kids.
Exhibit A: "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules ... but it's impossible for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time."
Sentence: Sold into slavery.
13. Mark Penn
Charges: The most overpriced gravedigger in the world. As Clinton's Chief Strategist, this too-creepy-for-TV pollster steered what was initially considered a cinch presidential campaign with all the talent of Joseph Hazelwood at the helm of the Exxon Valdez. His laziness was explained by his strategy: Inevitability. Penn's cheap, backfiring smears of Obama as a coke-snorting Islamic radical teenager, coupled with pathetic whining about the mean old press, gave Clinton's campaign an odor as repugnant as his own playground-flasher looks. Like most reptiles, Penn was slow to adjust to environmental changes, racking up millions in direct mail fees while Obama plundered the internet, which Penn predicted wouldn't have any impact in 2008. His very employment signaled a total abdication on the corruption/lobbying issue. But it gets worse: Mark Penn didn't understand basic electoral arithmetic, announcing to colleagues that Hillary would win easily by gaining California's 370 delegates, assuming, wrongly, a winner-take all vote tally. Despite the revelation of his woeful lack of elementary knowledge, Penn did not adjust his big-state strategy, ignoring the caucus states that Obama rode to victory, and to the end, seemed utterly baffled that a candidate could win without "any of the significant states."
Exhibit A: After burning through $200 million before Super Tuesday, Penn now blames Clinton's loss on inadequate funds.
Sentence: Surgically attached to Harold Ickes.
12. Dina Lohan
Charges: Fame isn't the only thing that screws up child stars; it starts with self-obsessed, psychopathic parents living out their failed ambitions through their hapless offspring (Dina has been telling false stories of her days as a Rockette and Broadway actress for years). Her college-aged daughter may be a rehab veteran and serial drunk driver, but that's no reason for mom not to televise the warping of daughter number two, a pre-rhinoplasty 14-year-old with no discernible talent or personality who calls the absent Lindsay her "role model," and an 11-year-old boy whose future mugshot will no doubt become iconic. You may think your parents sucked, but at least they didn't do it on TV.
Exhibit A: Rarely has a person's life been so succinctly synopsized by real events as when Lohan's house caught fire with her minor children alone inside while she was busy accepting -- no shit -- a "Mother of the Year" award.
Sentence: Age, ugliness, poverty, obscurity.
11. David Addington
Charges: In a nation fat with lawyers, it takes something special to be the worst of them all. If a White House legal argument is evil, unconstitutional and makes no actual sense, it’s a safe bet Grand Moff Addington is behind it. An expert in spook law since his early-‘80s stint as counselor to the CIA, Addington first hooked up with Cheney during the Iran-Contra hearings, even then pushing the “Unitary Executive” theory of unfettered presidential power and attempting to shoehorn dictatorship into the constitution. Addington thinks the president is above the law in times of war, which is awful convenient if you declare an endless war on a global battlefield. It’s this flimsy pretext on which the White House has evaded accountability for torture, domestic spying, and secret detention, proving that the best legal tools in DC are a straight face and a huge pair of balls.
Exhibit A: “I frankly don't know what you mean by the Unitary Theory of Government.”
Sentence: Declared an enemy combatant for farting in oval office; waterboarded with a fire hose by John Yoo.
10. Michelle Malkin
Charges: It's a remarkable achievement in unconscious projection that the author of a book called Unhinged could lose her fucking marbles over a patterned scarf in a donut ad, but that's what Michelle Malkin did when she sounded the nutbar clarion call and sicced her half-cocked league of masturbators on Rachel Ray and Dunkin Donuts for the flatly absurd notion that they were sending a message of solidarity with Palestinians. Right, Michelle -- you just can't sell donuts without joining the intifada these days. What did the nauseously spunky Ray do to incur the wrath of the Malkinoids? She wore a black and white scarf. A paisley scarf. A scarf that was clearly not a kaffiyeh, which, by the way, is just a hat that Arabs wear, not some universal symbol of jihad. In terms of completely false outrage, the only thing that rivaled this travesty of reason this year was the "lipstick on a pig" metaphor panic. But what puts this embarrassing sham over the top is that Dunkin Donuts actually apologized and pulled the ad, rather than try to explain to the fact-phobic horde that they were just blind, raging idiots with the collective brain-power of a lobotomized howler monkey.
Exhibit A: "If your neighbor's got an "Obama '08" bumper sticker or lawn sign, you might want to double-check your door locks at night."
Sentence: Deported to China for wearing red T-shirt.
9. Rick Warren
Charges: Dubbed "America's Pastor" by The Nation, he's duped people from both sides of the political spectrum into thinking he's the kinder, fatter version of James Dobson. Though he is fatter, how could anyone think a man who -- professionally -- quotes a book written by a make-believe space-giant, instructing the murder of homosexuals, could be anything other than a delusional bigot? Still riding the undeserved wave of fame onset by a meth-head kidnap victim's ownership of his pop-psych hybrid of churchy prudishness and self-help pabulum The Purpose Driven Life, Warren had a big year hosting a presidential forum at his gay-sounding Saddleback Church, helping to pass Prop 8 and being tapped to invoke said make-believe space-giant at Obama's inauguration. Plus, his neatly trimmed goatee is the queerest thing we've ever seen.
Exhibit A: "God tells us that he created all the land animals on the sixth day of creation, the same day that he created mankind. Man and dinosaurs lived at the same time." Can you feel the wisdom?
Sentence: He shalt giveth The Lord a blumpkin and eatheth of the pie until he bursts.
8. Ashley Todd
Charges: As attention-getting devices go, trying to start a race war is a tad disproportionate. It's a good thing this batty girl was completely hopeless as a fraudster, or her 11th hour "big black Barack backer battered burgled and branded Barbie" ruse could have done a lot worse than throw Pennsylvania to McCain. It's not surprising that log cabin bottom feeder Matt Drudge slapped the headline "Shock: McCain volunteer ‘attacked and mutilated' in Pittsburgh" on his bafflingly popular website in big red letters, as he's got about a 40% accuracy rating on the stories he "breaks." We've tried feeling sorry for Todd, but the fact that she scratched the "B" backwards, because she was looking in the mirror, is just too damned funny.
Exhibit A: "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her cloths [sic] off, but its better if you do."
Sentence: The reverse "B" never heals.
7. Joe Lieberman
Charges: A fickle, flabbery fiend reviled by both parties, Lieberman somehow finds himself more powerful than ever, failing forward by virtue of the Democrats' unfalteringly chumpish lack of discipline. After promising that he was "not going to go to…the Republican convention, and spend my time attacking Barack Obama," Lieberman went to the Republican convention and attacked Barack Obama. But that was just the beginning of his descent into a self-dug hole of betrayal that should have proved inescapable. Lieberman thought it was "a good question" to ask if Obama was a Marxist. He campaigned not just with McCain, but with Palin and down-ticket Republicans, another thing he said he wouldn't do. But the most loathsome trait Lieberman exhibits is that most loathsome of all: Smearing dissent as treasonous. The kind of suppressive asshole who would accuse you of helping terrorists by beating him at checkers should not be Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and is not someone worth rewarding for his own dissent.
Exhibit A: "In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." "Sen. Obama doesn't come to this debate with a lot of credibility.”
Sentence: Lieberman awakes to find himself in the body of an impoverished Iraqi living in a small apartment with 12 family members and no electricity. Shocked by this inexplicable turn of events, he stumbles outside and cries to God, looking up just in time for the white phosphorous to hit him in the face.
6. Rush Limbaugh
Charges: The father of modern stupidity, Limbaugh spins reflexively, never struggling with issues, because he knows his conclusion must favor Republicans, and his only task is finding a way to get there. In other words, he may or may not actually believe what he's saying, but it's beside the point. His job is not to say what he thinks, but to instruct his listeners on what they should think. If the facts don't agree, he can always change them, as his "ditto heads" are already armed against the contrary evidence with the all-purpose "liberal bias" attack. "Rush is right," as the slogan goes, and all those nerdy reporters in the "drive by media" are lying, because they secretly love terrorists. It's this creepily worshipful, breathtakingly infantile abdication of intellect to a blatantly dishonest hypocrite that makes Limbaugh's audience so goddamn sad. These pathetic, insecure, failures of men look to Rush as the champion of their impotent rage, helping them to externalize responsibility for their own deficiencies, pinning the blame on those darn liberals and their racial and gender equality.
Exhibit A: You have to marvel at the sheer ignominy of someone who coins the term "Obama recession" two days after the election.
Sentence: Tiny speaker implanted in his inner ear which blares Randi Rhodes 24-7.
5. Dick Cheney
Charges: Still alive. The amount of medical resources devoted to keeping this black hole of decency operational could have cured cancer by now, but if they had, Cheney would make sure to keep it a secret. Since Watergate, Cheney's been fighting to rehab Nixon's image, and he has succeeded in a way, by showing us all just how much worse a presidency can be.
Exhibit A: "It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you."
Sentence: Eaten alive by baboons.
4. George W. Bush
Charges: It's hard -- believe us, we know -- to keep coming up with new things to say about this brutally stupid narcissist, who may have ruined this country irrevocably and certainly has ruined a couple of others, mugging amiably all the way. If anything good comes from Bush's reign of error, let it be the death of the notion that vitally important, life or death decisions that affect the entire world should be made with one's "gut." We used to think that incompetence was just a good cover story for this administration, an excuse that masked their deliberate criminality, but it turns out that Bush and his inner circle are both treasonous, corrupt warmongers and inept fools. One good thing about him, though, is that he has no real interest in politics, and probably won't give a flying shoe what happens to the world when his term is up. As he once put it, ""History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." Here's to George W. Bush being history.
Exhibit A: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."
Sentence: Detained in formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailer without charges or counsel, sodomized by Lynndie England, declared guilty by military tribunal, set adrift naked on a small ice floe in the Arctic.
3. Sean Hannity
Charges: This relentlessly repugnant McCarthyite tool really outdid himself this year, in an all-out quest to otherize Obama in any way he could. This paranoid pustule is able to find a liberal conspiracy lurking behind any mundane occurrence, even attributing Obama's selection as Time's Person of the Year, an event as predictable as sunrise, to a pay-to-play scheme. Hopelessly outmatched shill Alan Colmes is finally leaving his role as Hannity's doormat; he will not be replaced.
Exhibit A: "I never questioned anyone's patriotism."
Sentence: Wrongfully convicted of murdering Vince Foster, based on evidence falsified by Jerome Corsi.
2. John McCain
Charges: McCain vowed to run a clean, respectful campaign, and then accused Obama of pushing sex ed for kindergartners, calling Palin a pig, hanging with terrorists, being a welfare-loving Marxist, being an arugula-loving elitist and pretty much everything but conspiring with the Borg -- but he didn't really mean it, and he didn't use Reverend Wright, so we're all supposed to think he's swell. McCain lied so blatantly and constantly that even cable news bootlicks were compelled to fact-check him, to which he and his surrogates responded by insisting on the same lies. When pressed on the Nixonian onslaught of falsehood, McCain whined that he wouldn't have had to be such a mendacious prick if Obama had only refrained from raising so much more money than him. McCain pretended to give a shit about America, and then he picked a vapid ambition-hound to succeed him. His response to the economic crisis might as well have been to punch himself in the face. In every way he could this year, McCain burned up all the credibility he had stored up from decades of shameless worship by the press, utilizing every tactic he ever decried, exuding a heady aroma of bullshit and Alzheimer's, and displaying an unrequited obsession with Joe the Plumber, and he still wound up a failed Faust even the Devil didn't want.
Exhibit A: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."
Sentence: Every time anybody says the word "surge," McCain is shot in the leg.
1. Sarah Palin
Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn't quite stupid enough. Palin's unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a "great speaker" when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.
Exhibit A: Waving her embryo-loving credentials, in the form of her Down syndrome baby. Saying "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."
Sentence: Hand-to-hand combat with Vladimir Putin and a pack of wolves.
For the full list, click here. The list takes on people on both sides of the political spectrum (and a few entertainers and criminals for good measure) and should not be missed (the illustrations alone are worth clicking the link).