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, 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: hatemongers, sleazeballs, blowhards, users and boozers, and horn dogs. (The full version is available on New Times' website, browardpalmbeach.com.)
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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 Kentucky state Representative Jim Gooch, who allegedly tossed a pair of pink panties onto a table at a conference and said, "I'm looking for the lady who lost these."
Want a little old-school corruption? Florida's governor, 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 and Minnesota loon Michele Bachmann. Even pol wannabe Donald Trump sneaked in a side door.
So before you head out for the fireworks or swig some American brew, consider this hall of shame. — Chuck Strouse