2018 Golden Dukes Winners Announced!

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TPM is pleased to announce the winners of the 12th Annual Golden Dukes Awards, which honor the public figures who managed the most corruption, made the craziest comments, and carried out the most craven deeds, all in the spirit of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the father of the modern political scandal.

Our fantastic and witty judges — Jason Linkins, Susie Bright, Erin Ryan, Krang Nelson and Simon Maloy — sifted through all 35 nominees in 7 categories to choose the winners.

You can click on each category below to see who won and read through the judges’ hilarious commentary on their picks. On a special edition of the podcast, the judges discuss some of the winners, and, because we had several ties, Josh Marshall casts the tie-breaking vote. Listen here.

Best Scandal — General Interest

Best Scandal — Local Venue

Meritorious Achievement In The Crazy

Best Conspiracy Theory

Best Campaign Gaffe

Literary Achievement In 280 Characters

Outstanding Ineptitude In The Cabinet

Best Scandal — General Interest

Michael Cohen wins with 3 of 5 votes

Erin Ryan: Michael Cohen

I mean, it’s obviously Michael Cohen, if we’re measuring by either significance or hilarity. But, on a more serious note: Michael Cohen, despite being a composite of every idiot cousin in every second-tier gangster film, has managed to amass a great amount of personal wealth and access to the most powerful people in the world. The public laughed Michael Cohen off as a perennial killed-in-the-first-episode-of-a-gritty-HBO-drama type, but look at him now. Michael Cohen isn’t an extra. He may actually be a leading man in the downfall of the Trump family and possibly, by extension, America. His ability to achieve these things despite his apparent stupidity and utter lack of sexiness exposes how plain and terrible our arch villains actually are. They’re not Don Corleones. They’re not even Fredos. They’re the pile of cocaine on Tony Montana’s desk. They’re the bully’s assistant, yelling “Yeah, get him!” as the overgrown 12-year-old punches a wimpy kid in the stomach. Villains aren’t cool. They’re Michael Cohen crying in court like the boys at the end of Lord of the Flies.

Jason Linkins: Michael Cohen

It’s really hard to not nominate Paul Manafort, solely for his dedication to doing as many crimes as possible no matter how much scrutiny he is currently under. The guy loves doing crimes; he must go through every day belting out “Being Alive” from COMPANY at the top of his lungs as he whiles away the afternoon on crimes. But in the end, it has to be Michael Cohen. In a way, all of these nominees might not exist without him. Except for possibly Duncan Hunter, they are all the fruit of his poisonous tree. I’ve actually spoken with Michael Cohen on the phone, and to simply hear his voice in your ears is enough to experience the sensation of being precipitously close to falling into some sort of disrepute or disarray. His shell company is called “Essential Consultants,” you guys! What is his law firm named? “Good Lawyers?” Oh, we laugh, but AT&T and Novartis made payments to this company. This is somehow the obscure part of this story!

Susie Bright: Michael Cohen

“Ne eligat is qui donum accipit”

Cohen says to the judge he’d never forgive himself for the suffering his wretched behavior has caused his family, all at the expense of his brown-nosing hubris.

Yet his contrite speech didn’t have quite the deep pool of St. Sebastian’s blood I expect to see collecting on the floor. Nope.

This isn’t just about the embarrassment of Papa Cohen being a liar, leech, thug — or that Mickey’s nose is so far up Trump’s ass that only his toes are hanging out. No.

This isn’t even about disgracing whatever finely wrought organized crime traditions arise from the wife’s side of the family, who presumably cannot believe any professional criminal could be this stupid. They thought “Fredo” was just a guy in a movie.

Here’s the anecdote that I won’t forget: Back when Cohen’s young son had his bar mitzvah, special guest Donald Trump was so late to the ceremony that he delayed the crux of the ritual, leaving the rabbis, congregation, and hundreds of guests just… hanging there.

Trump finally bursts in, just as the whole shebang was about to combust. Jokes on you, Mikey! — Trump cracks wise to all assembled that he NEVER planned or wanted to attend, but his pathetic lawyer would not stop begging him.

Living on your knees is a hell of way to go, but you bled all of us for your trouble.

Krang Nelson: Paul Manafort

Everyone and everything is dumb as shit now. Remember that show Monk? Every week some random person in San Francisco would commit the most ingenious murder in the history of murders and the show’s hero would solve the case. But of course in reality most murders are just people shooting each other in the face with a gun — very unexciting and not very genius. That’s what it’s like with these scandals. I find myself hoping for genuine masterminds, tripped up by incredibly probing and intelligent good guys, but what we actually have these days are big idiots doing the white-collar version of shooting someone in the face in broad daylight. And there is no larger-sized idiot than Paul Manafort, who probably could have lived his life out calmly and without incident had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, but now is fucked because he is a true moron whose house of cards collapsed upon the slightest scrutiny. King of the dumbasses.

Simon Maloy: Sean Hannity

This was as stacked a category as you’re going to encounter. Paul Manafort is the Ricky Henderson of crimes: both men had unnaturally long careers powered by a flamboyant, unquenchable love of stealing. Bumble-ass lawyer Michael Cohen is the perfect marriage of Tom Hagen-esque criminality and Zuckerkornian comedic incompetence. Ivanka Trump’s entire existence is a bubbling cauldron of graft whose lid is barely kept in place by increasingly desperate PR maneuvering. Duncan Hunter is aggressively corrupt and even occupies the same congressional district once held by the legendarily venal congressman for whom these august awards are named.

But I have to pass over these titans of sleaze and bestow the Duke upon Sean Hannity for his secret, undisclosed lawyer-client relationship with the aforementioned bumble-ass, Michael Cohen.

There are many reasons to adore this scandal. There were literal courtroom gasps as Hannity was named as Cohen’s secret client. Hannity served up an acidly indignant and nonsensical explanation that Cohen was never his lawyer, just someone he paid for confidential legal advice. Fox News assured everyone that it didn’t care that its primetime star had secret ties to the President’s corrupt attorney and bagman whose office had just been ransacked by federal agents. And, of course, there’s the understanding that if something similar had happened to anyone who’d ever been within 500 feet of Hillary Clinton, it would still feature in Hannity’s nightly “Clinton Corruption” monologue.

But the reason I’m going with Hannity is that his innocent explanation for all this — the thing he told people as a way to brush all this away as an overblown non-story — is that he just wanted Cohen’s advice on real estate as he established himself as a rent-jacking slumlord of the suburban South.

That’s beautiful, Sean. That’s perfect. Thank you, you wonderfully fractious goon. Thank you.

Best Scandal — Local Venue

Denver Riggleman ekes out a win with just a half-point lead over Leslie McCrae Dowless

Krang Nelson: Denver Riggleman

Even if I knew nothing about his name, it sounds like a made-up Tea Party candidate from 2010. But of course this weird-ass name is but the welcome mat on the mansion of strange that is our boy. Now, I use the internet and know that people have weird-ass porn tastes. I am a child of online and I have lost whatever few un-desensitized fragments of my brain that may have once existed. So I say this with zero prudishness: dude what the fuck. Homemade Bigfoot porn. How does one find that out about themselves? Was he watching that old black & white Bigfoot filmstrip (which I firmly insist on calling “the Zapruder one”) and felt some new feelings? Does mythical animal lust qualify him as a bestiality perv? These are valid questions every voter should have asked, but somehow the Republican voters of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District saw past his weird sex stuff to the white-supremacist within (he was caught campaigning with a white supremacist group leader), and elected him to the House of Representatives. So yeah fuck this cartoon name-having dickhead.

Simon Maloy: Denver Riggleman

“Bigfoot erotica” wins. It wins every time. There can be no other outcome. I don’t even know who the other nominees are.

All social media is terrible and an unquestioned blight on modern society, but there are some brief and noteworthy moments when it serves the public interest, like when a candidate for federal office loads up his Instagram account with rough pencil drawings of Sasquatch dongs.

This is good.

When a candidate mashes “post” on some yeti-junk content, it tells you way more about who he is than any stodgy debate or candidate forum ever could. We see you, Denver Riggleman, and the voters of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District saw you, and they sent you to Congress to be the voice for sexual cryptozoology.

Jason Linkins: Leslie McCrae Dowless

I really have to take my hat off to the TPM readership just for this slate of nominees, because they’ve really dialed into what I’m pretty sure is going to become one of the key venues in the fight for democracy in the coming years — voting rights (and Bigfoot erotica). I’ll choose Leslie McCrae Dowless here, if only because what went down in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is about as bold and as brazen as this can possibly get and if we’re not careful, it could become the emerging norm in election skullduggery. Democrats need to get in the business of protecting the right the vote, and their billionaire benefactors — the ones not steeped in the sex lives of Sasquatches, which again, is also important — should get out of the business of making 200 more unnecessary campaign ads and into the business of getting an army of warm bodies assembled to help those targeted by voter suppression overcome the legal, logistical, and bureaucratic obstacles that are sure to be strewn in the way of those who want to exercise their rights. We could really use some sort of association of community organizations for this sort of reform, now. This is probably the fight of our lives — yes, besides possibly consent issues around cryptids. Don’t think I didn’t notice the conservative backlash against that movie about the lady who fucked that fish.

Susie Bright: Scott Taylor and Leslie McCrae Dowless

“Qui vitulum tollit, taurum subduxerit idem”

A tie! Bless their hearts.

At first, I sought a ribbon for Mr. Bigfoot Erotica, our young Denver Riggleman. But he’s just too sweet. A Bigfoot Fancier is today’s “Honest Abe.”

For our next consideration, God called — and Beelzebub left a text: There is indeed a special highchair in hell with Kris Kobach’s name etched on it.

Yet, we still couldn’t pin a winner. Kobach isn’t poppin’ fresh enough for today’s A.D.D. traitor-stans.

That leaves Scott Taylor and Leslie McCrae Dowless… Come on down, gentleman!

You two have rubbed the cheat right off the peach.

Did you caucus beforehand, to gin a hiring hall for stone-cold hustlers? — Any vacancies? Do you want a job at the CIRCUS?

Oh, sorry — the flying pigs have too much DIGNITY.

Erin Ryan: Kris Kobach

I choose Kris Kobach, one of 2018’s most reliable sources of schadenfreude. Kris Kobach is a textbook example of why you should never trust an adult man who looks like he does his hair with a handheld paper shredder. You should not hire that man to watch your dog. You should not hire that man to be your lawyer. You should for sure not elect that man Secretary of State of Kansas. And you definitely shouldn’t have that man craft and defend a law based on the bogus notion that non-citizens were registering to vote in droves. For a good laugh, read Jessica Huseman’s account of how Kobach failed to defend his fable in court so spectacularly this summer that he was ordered by a judge to brush up on his legal education. And then check out this video of Laura Kelly, the unflashy Democrat who dealt Kobach a surprise defeat in the Kansas gubernatorial race this November.

Meritorious Achievement In The Crazy

Rudy Giuliani wins with 4 of 5 votes

Jason Linkins: Rudy Giuliani

You know, if there’s one thing about the Trump era that I feel compelled to make sure people understand, it’s that if you ever get into some kind of legal scrape then you absolutely do not want to hire legal counsel that thinks it’s a good idea to go on television and talk about it, out of their own ass, all the time. You don’t want that kind of lawyer, trust me! “We don’t comment on ongoing litigation” is a time-tested way of dealing with public inquiry into your legal problems. Less good is having bug-eyed Uruk-hai attorney-at-LOL Rudy Giuliani go on cable news every livelong and try to wing it. I understand that President Trump has got a compulsive need to watch his guys go on teevee and throw handbags but Rudy has never ended a single cable news segment having made things better than they were at the start of the broadcast. Also did you know Rudy was, at some point, an advisor to Trump on “cyber security?” How did we survive that??

Erin Ryan: Rudy Giuliani

Honest question: is he on meth? How long does a dose of that stuff last? Three years?

Krang Nelson: Rudy Giuliani

When September 11 happened I was really young but I vaguely remember the phrase “America’s Mayor” being tossed about in reference to everyone’s favorite cousin-marrier Rudy Giuliani. Whether that was ever true or simply a 9/11-induced mirage is beyond me but I can certainly say that Rudy is anything but a unifying or even comprehensible figure nowadays. From his absolute insane on-air and on-Twitter ramblings, to the weird veneer of dogshit that seems to coat only his bottom row of teeth, to his general lecherousness with the ladies, I can confidently say that Donald Trump seems to have replaced Michael Cohen with the right man for the job.

Simon Maloy: Rudy Giuliani

The funniest thing about the entire Russia investigation and the ever-growing threat it poses to the White House is that Donald Trump has chosen to take on this existential menace with little more than bad tweets and Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy! America’s Mayor! Romania’s Consultant! No human person is more suited to play the innately comedic role of “Donald Trump’s lawyer,” and no one could fuck that job up quite like Hizzoner. Rudy hadn’t worked in criminal law since he was a U.S. attorney in the ‘80s, and every indication was that he intended to spend his golden years marinating in shady lobbying deals while maybe pitching the occasional reverse mortgage.

But that’s okay because it’s not at all apparent that Rudy, in his capacity as Trump’s lawyer, does any lawyering whatsoever. His chief responsibility is to get his malfunctioning-Disney-World-animatronic face in front of a camera so that his nylon-sack-full-of-weasels brain can construct increasingly elaborate explanations for Trump’s obvious innocence. These explanations have employed classic legal strategies like contradicting your client’s public statements and suggesting your client is guilty.

As the mountain of evidence damning the President grows higher, Rudy’s legal defense strategy only grows more spastic — there is no such thing as a “no comment.” When news broke that Michael Cohen had taped conversations with Trump about arranging hush money payments to his mistresses, Giuliani told the New York Times that this was not bad news but, rather, “powerful exculpatory evidence.” Those sure are lawyer words! Good lawyering, Rudy.

Susie Bright: Donald Trump

“Deus quem punire vult dementat”

Donald Trump will be the first executive since Antigone’s uncle to be completely undone by his defiance of death rites. “Crazy” is a cute way of putting it.

Individual #1 will not mourn. He will not clean, bury, or honor the dead. He will leave his men out in the field. He will betray and besmirch his family.

Rulers often meet ruinous ends because the economy or the climate betray them, aided by great plowing drifts of palace intrigue. And Trump will suffer those torrents, too.

But the reason the man will be despised forever, beyond memory of every Mueller count against him, is because the Fake King would not respect the dead, and because he feared the living.

Trump is paralyzed by a neurotic fear of death, war, and dismemberment. But he will not bow his head. He will howl.

Hence, if he does not mourn, he will burn. For that, the man loses the allegiance of people who’d otherwise have followed him over a cliff. Daddy, you’re through.

Best Conspiracy Theory

Ed Whelan and Jacob Wohl tied, with 2 points each

Jason Linkins: Ed Whelan

Oh man, Ed Whelan’s contribution to the darkest part of the Kavanaugh hearings was just… beyond. It was such a breathless thing to experience: Here he is, busting out maps, accusing random people of crimes. It was like Season One of Homeland, Carrie Matheson off her meds, looping twine around push pins, exclaiming “I MISSED SOMETHING ONCE BEFORE!” Buildings are collapsing in slow motion in Whelan’s mind’s eye and the geometry of the room is twisting into non-Euclidean shapes on the pages of Politico. But beyond all that what really struck me was how superfluous his nutlog contribution to the whole news cycle was. If he doesn’t step out in public with this punch drunk theory, nothing about the outcome would have changed. It was all so nigh upon unnecessary. If I recall correctly, Whelan ended up having to temporarily strike a line from his Twitter bio identifying himself as the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as punishment. This doesn’t seem like justice was done but trust me, the worst thing you can do to a Beltway critter like Whelan is to deny him his proper credential, even for a short amount of time. With his final dying breath, he will remember the pain of that moment.

Simon Maloy: Ed Whelan

When Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was thrown into mortal danger by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credible allegations of sexual assault, the Washington conservative cocktail circuit leaped into action. One of their own was mere inches from the acme of D.C. insiderism, and they would be damned if they’d let something as trivial as one woman’s multi-decade waking horror stymie their buddy Brett’s ascent.

Drastic action was needed, and Ed Whelan — president of an organization with “Ethics” in its name — rose to the challenge by partnering with a PR firm to clumsily stitch together a meandering conspiracy theory that pinned blame for the assault on a lookalike classmate of Kavanaugh’s. The only evidence Whelan had consisted of a few maps of Ford’s old neighborhood and some floor plans of various houses downloaded from Zillow.

But Whelan didn’t need “evidence” because he was Ed Whelan, the respected and serious D.C. conservative, and his self-evidently discrediting doppelganger theory was treated with cautious credulity by other serious D.C. conservatives who knew him to be extremely serious.

Whelan’s online sleuthing was never about changing minds or proving anything. It was meant to provide an escape hatch for conservatives who desperately wanted Kavanaugh on the court but were a touch queasy about the credible allegations of sexual assault. The Zillow-doppelganger theory — as flimsy and obviously ridiculous as it was — let those people argue that while they believed Dr. Ford, they also didn’t believe Dr. Ford. That’s precisely what Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) argued in justifying her vote for Kavanaugh.

So Whelan’s conspiracy theory ended up looming large over the whole confirmation process, showing us both the power of motivated reasoning and this important truth: scratch a white-shoe, D.C. cocktail circuit conservative and underneath you’ll find a Glenn Beck.

Erin Ryan: Jacob Wohl

Jacob Wohl tried to engineer damaging stories about Robert Mueller. He did this by setting up a fake company called “Surefire Intelligence.” He registered its website to a phone number that belonged to his mom. If most 21-year-olds were as shitty and dumb as Jacob Wohl, I’d be perfectly fine with leaving those little turds a destroyed earth. Let’s not save the rainforests. Let it be Jacob Wohl’s problem.

Krang Nelson: Jacob Wohl

Jacob Wohl is a deeply embarrassing little freak and I will always love him. Many people were introduced to him through his weird attempt at smearing Robert Mueller from the banquet room of a Virginia Holiday Inn, but I have known Jacob for years, a friendless online weirdo of the highest order. Armed with the support of his equally idiotic father and a complete lack of basic social skills, the sky’s the limit for our special boy.

Susie Bright: Ann Coulter

“Cui caput dolet, omnia membra languent”

I was once invited to speak at an august institution, in their grandest hall, where presidents, kings, and even Grace Kelly once graced their stage. I shivered to step out on the same boards.

After the curtain fell, I made a point to speak to the stage manager, a gentleman far past retirement age, who had lectern memories going back to FDR.

“Tell me, Mr. Fox,” I said, “Whose speech, in all of history, left the greatest impression on you?”

“Oh that would have to be yours, Miss Bright,” he said.

“No, I’m serious!”

“Well, I’ve been moved to tears and prayers more times than I can count,” he said. “There’ve been so many ‘greats’… but I have to tell you, the worst, the very worst… I can’t even call a human being, that I ever hosted here; she desecrated the room…. Oh my goodness, I can’t even say her name but that hair and the things she said have scarred my heart forever.”

“Ann Coulter?”

We hugged each other like there was no letting go.

Best Campaign Gaffe

Rep. Kevin Cramer and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith tied, with 2 points each

Erin Ryan: Rep. Kevin Cramer

North Dakota Republican Kevin Cramer compared cages holding undocumented migrant children to playgrounds. North Dakota elected him senator anyway. The only way this worst, best campaign trail gaffe doesn’t make me want to slowly walk into the sea is if it turns out to be a heretofore unknown North Dakotan superhero’s origin story.

Jason Linkins: Rep. Kevin Cramer

I think that one of the clear signs that Trump’s power might be on the wane, or at least that his ability to keep wing-walking throughout all manner of personal scandal is non-transferrable to other politicians, is that gaffes are kind of back. And these are some real doozies to pick from. It was hard to pass on John Cox comparing an hour-long wait at the DMV to the Holocaust, if only because I can do an hour wait at the DMV standing on my head. Hell, I’ve stood outside the DMV waiting for it to open for an hour in the freezing cold and surrounded by LaRouchies, who were at one time in the habit of preying on people at this vulnerable time in their lives, so don’t complain to me about your hardships. Nevertheless, I’m going to pick Kevin Cramer, because let’s face it, this child separation policy is the scandal of this year, and his line about “line-of-sight visual connectivity” — referring to being able to see inside cages — is the Silicon Valley-style euphemism this insane offense to the moral universe truly needed.

Susie Bright: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

“Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare” 

Pin the gold on the white supremacist potty mouth.

It’s not a gaffe, it’s a lifestyle.

Simon Maloy: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

It was never likely that Democrats in Mississippi would replicate the upset victory Doug Jones pulled off in Alabama, but Cindy Hyde-Smith gave them as strong a chance as they could have hoped for.

When we talk about political “gaffes,” we think of things like Rick Perry’s “oops” or Ted Cruz’s “basketball ring” (Never Forget) — moments where normally polished politicians bumble and sabotage themselves. Hyde-Smith’s “gaffes,” however, can be better understood as “abhorrent beliefs she strongly holds.” She got in trouble because she forewent the dog-whistling approach to politics in the South and publicly wallowed in all the worst parts of Mississippi’s still-raw history of racial violence and disenfranchisement.

And while those moments (along with her Andersonville cosplay and excited description of Confederate war memorabilia as “Mississippi history at its best!”) were enough to give Republicans the jitters, they weren’t enough to pose any serious threat to her election. That means the chief lesson Mississippi’s junior senator will take away from 2018 is that she should maybe be a bit more careful when saying the quiet part out loud.

Krang Nelson: John Cox

Of all the categories this year, I hated this one’s field of candidates the most. Judging this one sucked bigtime. Almost every entrant was essentially not even a “gaffe” as much as a “blatant old-timey racist belief of theirs that they felt no inhibitions about sharing nowadays.” Remember when gaffes were just a goofy candidate with bad media training or Boris Yeltsin being majorly hammered at a presser while the president lost his shit? (Note: I don’t actually remember this due to being a small child but I also have Google).

So anyways, for this one I chose John Cox because his was the only so-called gaffe that even hints at a genuine old-man-brain story. Dumb? Yes. Absolutely. But John Cox has run for everything from “neighborhood legislature” to president and never garnered enough ballots in his favor to mop up an ounce of spilled gin. A man who could not find his own asshole with two hands and a map, his main claim to fame is batshit ranting passed off as AM radio. At best he is a sad facsimile of a Rush Limbaugh, a true failson of the Boomer generation, pissed off about all the usual divorceguy things. Knowing this, his statement seems less pernicious than laughably inept. And hey, society always needs people to point and laugh at.

Literary Achievement In 280 Characters

Speaker Paul Ryan and Eddie Scarry tied, with 2 points each

Susie Bright: Speaker Paul Ryan

“Dives aut iniquus est, aut iniqui heres”

Paul Ryan, whose image appears in the visual dictionary for “Craven,” had this to tweet for upbeat news in 2018:

A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week! She says that will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

A DOLLAR-FIFTY A WEEK isn’t enough to put spam on the table. Speaker Ryan is a stain upon the working class traditions of Wisconsin. If he had to live for a week like he expects “lessers” to endure, he would fold like a paper bag.

Simon Maloy: Speaker Paul Ryan

I’m giving this Duke to Paul Ryan both for the quality of the self-own and for the valedictory stamp it puts on his long, benighted career in public office. Ryan’s “Young Gun” ascendance within the GOP was built on two ambitions: disemboweling the public sector in order to transfer additional wealth to the rich, and convincing credulous reporters that his real passion was helping the poor and low-income people. The passage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act fulfilled one of those ambitions by energetically funneling obscene quantities of money to America’s CEOs and idle rich.

But Ryan, ever the eager sprat, just had to have it all. And so when this high-school secretary’s princely after-tax takehome of $1.50 came across his radar, he and his inept social media team jumped on it as a fulfillment of everything the Speaker pretends to be. It never occurred to anyone involved that, after going to absurd lengths to hollow out the tax burden owed by the Koch family’s functionally useless heirs, they might need a stronger message than “hey, even the proles are getting a taste!”

The prolonged dragging that Ryan endured did nothing, of course, to cure him of his desperate need for hagiographic fulfillment — he’s spending his last days in office cranking out a six-part documentary series about how this toxic, unjustifiable piece of legislation represents the culmination of his lifelong dream.

Jason Linkins: Eddie Scarry

Lotta good ratio action in this category but Eddie Scarry’s AOC tweet was the be-all-end-all. This guy had kind of fallen off the radar: He was a replacement-level henchie for this replacement-level villain named Betsy Rothstein who was most famous for arching some poor publicist lady with a bunch of stuff on Mediabistro that, if I recall, crossed the line into per se libel and briefly got them all in legal trouble. Scarry, I was reminded during this whole contretemps, had made it a habit of photographing women from behind and tweeting about their butts. Everybody needs a gimmick, I guess. Probably if he didn’t have a job he’d be be on some really bad path in life so there’s an argument for some kind of gainful employment, just to keep him off the streets.

Anyway, what was really hilarious about this is that after he took down the tweet he did that thing where you “tweet through it” (never do this, by the way), sending a second tweet in which he pretended that his first tweet was meant to be sincere and empathetic and I have to imagine that constructing that pretense and having to sign his name to it was pretty painful. Anyway, the bottom line, honestly, is that none of us should ever tweet.

Krang Nelson: Eddie Scarry

Eddie Scarry wins this one for me because I will always favor a creepy foot perv when it comes to embarrassing accolades. Eddie joins such luminaries as Jonathan Chait and Piers Morgan in tweeting out horny photos of unsuspecting women’s feet, but getting ratioed like he did (possibly a record-setter for twitter dot com) for his AOC post puts him in a league of his own. A Perv Above The Rest.

Erin Ryan: Ivanka Trump

In 2019, can we stop pretending Ivanka is tone deaf and start realizing that she’s probably just evil?

Outstanding Ineptitude In The Cabinet

Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt tied, with 2 points each

Erin Ryan: Ryan Zinke

God made man in God’s image and likeness; Donald Trump picked a cabinet in Donald Trump’s. To that end, they’re all a bunch of tacky grifters. While it’s true that Scott Pruitt’s scandals were more hilarious — the man spent government resources on a wild goose chase after lotion from a Ritz-Carlton because the poor rube thinks lotion at fancy hotels is commensurate to the quality of the hotel stay — I’m going to have to pick Zinke here because he actually made it almost to the end of the year, which makes his government-level grifting more of an achievement than Pruitt’s. But it was close.

Susie Bright: Ryan Zinke

Cuilibet fatuo placet sua calva”

My favorite part of Zinke’s balls is that he refused to quit, until he got to throw his lavish end of year Xmas Party.

Bachmanity Insanity” has NOTHING on our boy.

Ho ho ho, the Interior Secretary won’t leave, until he gets the last fruitcake! All the Whos down in Whoville can just suck it!

Word is, Santa Claus left Ryan a big coalpile…

Ryan’s underneath it.

Jason Linkins: Scott Pruitt

It just has to be Scott Pruitt! The man whose troubles began because he couldn’t just rent an apartment like a normal human being. His wife needed a job! He needed his security detail to rescue him from… a nap. I feel like just some basic adulting could have saved this man from so many of these “The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret” problems. Not all of them, mind you! This guy was just wild.

Remember the Ritz-Carlton moisturizing lotion flap? Three Washington Post reporters broke that story. Vox’s Matt Yglesias had to write a whole explainer on it. Can you imagine getting that assignment? Like, the editor from SPOTLIGHT is assigning some of his top reporters to track down lotions. Well, my man Pruitt is just very particular about emollients, so this is your life now.

Krang Nelson: Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt wins here for me due purely to the abject overestimation of his own importance. My dude had a litany of insane security features and protocols implemented when he took office because either he was actually running a pizzagate scenario out of his D.C. building OR he has the most inflated sense of importance of any shithead to ever help the EPA. Maybe both. Probably both.

Simon Maloy: Ben Carson

Ben Carson wins this one not just for being as corrupt as all the other grifters in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, but for accomplishing this feat while also being flagrantly and indisputably unqualified for the high-level government post he is abusing. Crooks like Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke could at least claim some professional experience for their jobs, but Carson has been out of his depth since day one — his own spokesman described him as a “neophyte” who has “never run an agency.”

That lack of experience has, of course, translated into a gutted and ineffective Department of Housing and Urban Development where the preferred policy for making housing affordable is to triple the rents. And while Carson is hollowing out HUD and its mission, his family is cashing in on his position while he promotes unqualified cronies to senior jobs.

In that sense, Carson is the idealized version of a Trump Cabinet secretary: far too incompetent to actually do the job he was hired for, but tremendously accomplished at abusing the public trust for his own personal gain.

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