Dan Savage Votes: The 2013 Golden Duke Awards

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Dan Savage, a gay American author, media pundit, journalist, newspaper editor and advice columnist who writes Savage Love

Best Scandal — General Interest

Rob Ford

No contest: Rob Ford was the scandalous gift that kept on giving and giving and giving. From blaming his crack binges on drunken stupors — who amongst us hasn’t found ourselves in a crack den sucking a pipe after one too many cocktails at our office holiday party? — to his riotous press conferences to what was the single cleverest cunnilingus joke ever uttered into a live mic by a politician, Rob Ford’s Eric-Cartman-On-Crack routine never got stale. The man made live broadcasts of the Toronto City Council Meetings into must-watch TV. I’m looking forward to what Rob Ford has in store for us in 2014, as I’m sure most TPM readers are.

Best Scandal — Sex and Generalized Carnality

Rob Ford

The Bob Filner scandal is just too depressing. I mean, not to be lookist about this or anything but … imagine that face coming at you. Or imagine a pair of hands coming at you that are attached to a pair of arms that are attached to the torso on which rests the neck that holds up the head that has that face sliding off it. Ugh. Sorry, but there’s nothing amusing about Filner or his crimes. Blech.

As for the others — a Secret Service scandal I hadn’t heard about until reading the nominations, indecent-but-agile exposure in a moving car committed by someone who wasn’t an elected official at the time, the sad deflation of Anthony Weiner’s mayoral/redemption campaign — not one of them bests Rob Ford in the carnality department. The man is all appetite. Whatever you can eat, drink, smoke or fuck, you know Rob Ford has already chomped, swigged, blazed or boned it.

Best Scandal — Local Venue

Please. Rob Ford.

While most Americans have some vague sense that there’s a whole other country up there somewhere — a frozen buffer there to enforce a geographic restraining order between the saner parts of the USA and Alaska — before 2013 most Americans would have had difficultly naming a single Canadian metropolis, much less naming a person who lives or lived in that city. But Rob Ford is to Toronto as Al Capone is to Chicago. Go anywhere in the world and tell someone you’re from Chicago, and they’ll point a finger at you and go, “Bang! Bang! Al Capone!” From now on folks from Toronto can travel the world secure in the knowledge that people have now heard of Toronto and that people know what to do when someone says they’re from Toronto: Hold up a pretend crack pipe and go, “Crack! Crack! Rob Ford!”

If there were Golden Dukes for best makeup, best costume design, best special effects, and best sound, Rob Ford would win in those categories too.

Meritorious Achievement in the Crazy

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Rob Ford wasn’t nominated in this category? That’s crazy. Body-checking a city council member who is about to vote to strip you of your mayoral powers… and knocking her to the floor in the process? Causing the rest of the city council members—all of whom, again, are about to vote to strip you of your powers—to chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” in unison? Does it get any crazier than that? No. It does not. I am filing a complaint with the Golden Dukes Board of Governors to protest Ford being denied the nomination in this category. Rob was robbed.

Since I can’t vote a straight Ford ticket — criminal — I’ll have to go with Rep. Steve King for his insulting comments about young undocumented immigrants fighting for passage of the Dream Act. King wants the American people to bear in mind that not all young undocumented immigrants are high-school valedictorians. Some are criminals! In fact the ratio between high-school valedictorians and criminals with calves that have grown to “the size of cantaloupes” from “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert” is, in King’s estimation, 100 to 1.

The RNC’s takeaway from the 2012 defeat of Mitt Romney, the lesson that the GOP needed to learn according to the RNC’s postmortem, was that the Republican party needed to do a better job reaching out to Hispanics. Insulting their children — documented or not — is the definition of crazy. Unless the plan is to lose the next three or four national elections, of course, in which case … allowing King to run his mouth in public, and the RNC remaining silent as the House killed immigration reform, were a pair of staggeringly brilliant moves.

The Year in Derp

Rick Santorum

Given my long, acrimonious, and frothy association with Rick Santorum … my vote in this category may have to be discarded, as I’m hopelessly biased. But Rick for the win! Comparing Nelson Mandela and ANC’s efforts to free millions of people in South Africa with the GOP’s effort to deny health insurance coverage to millions of Americans by repealing Obamacare… well, can it get any derpier than that?

Yes, it can.

Google “South Africa” and “health care” and you’ll learn that one of the first acts that Nelson Mandela took after being elected president of South Africa was to extend free health care to all South African children. And Mandela’s party—the African National Congress—is currently working to extend health care to all South Africans. Take it away, Wikipedia: “The current government is working to establish a national health insurance (NHI) system out of concerns for discrepancies within the national health care system, such as unequal access to healthcare amongst different socio-economic groups.”

Let’s pause here to remind ourselves of the stakes for Americans: a 2009 study conducted at Harvard — one of those places snobs send their kids to get educated — found that 45,000 Americans die annually for lack of access to health care. That’s the old status quo that Rick is fighting to restore.

Does the fight against Obamacare have anything in common with Mandela’s fight to end apartheid? Only that the GOP is on the wrong side. Again.

Outstanding Achievement In Corruption-based Chutzpah

Rob Ford! Rob Ford! Rob Ford!

Best Scandal By a Non-Politician

Alec Baldwin

If the Golden Dukes allowed for write-ins I’d go with former tween and former Disney star Dylan Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody). Dylan, now 21 and a student at NYU, was doing something people his age do (he was doing something people of all ages do): flirting with a person he met online and swapping dirty pics. The dirty pics Sprouse shared wound up posted on a Tumblr page because some people you meet online are predatory, lowlife, scum-sucking assholes. (Happy holidays, Sydney Leathers.) Sprouse acknowledged that the pictures were his and wrote a thoughtful post about it on his own Tumblr page. “The real problem here was not me sending my pictures to someone,” Sprouse wrote, “but rather, sending them to the WRONG someone. The real travesty is a misplaced trust.”


But since write-ins are not allowed I’m gonna go with Alec Baldwin for his liberal use of the word “faggot.” The same people who are now defending Phil Robertson on “free speech” grounds for his much more offensive comments about gays, blacks, Jim Crow, the Japanese, Pearl Harbor, etc., called for Baldwin to be fired from MSNBC for his comments. And Baldwin ultimately was fired. But let’s be real: Baldwin wasn’t fired because he used the word “faggot.” He was fired because his show sucked and the controversy gave MSNBC honchos a way to kill the show without having to admit that they screwed up by giving Baldwin a show in the first place.

Read the full list of nominations here.

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