Golden Dukes Nominations Announced!!!

TPM is pleased to announce that we will be awarding our Eighth Annual Golden Dukes on December 31st, in recognition of the year’s best purveyors of public corruption, outlandish behavior and The Crazy.

The awards are named in honor of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who epitomizes the iconic modern scandal. Each year we single out those practitioners of scandal who through their own unmatched bumbling, shameless behavior, criminality or mere derp have set new standards for public corruption, betrayal of the public trust and general ridiculousness.

And now for the esteemed judges and proud nominees …


We’re happy to have a distinguished panel of expert judges to sort through the nominations and choose the ultimate winners. They are:

Susie Bright, feminist sex writer and Editor at Large at

Julieanne Smolinski, writer, performer, and the genius behind @BoobsRadley

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

Rick Hertzberg, senior editor and staff writer at The New Yorker


1. Best Scandal — General Interest

– Blogger Clayton Thomas Kelly for the Rose Cochran nursing home break-in video, in which a few hapless supporters of Tea Partier Chris McDaniel thought it would be a great idea to break in to the nursing home of the senator’s nearly-comatose wife and video tape for a campaign video.

Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who had to resign after dozens of veterans died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital.

Chris Christie for the never-ending Bridgegate scandal.

Bob McDonnell for his indictment over the tens of thousands of dollars he accepted from a wealthy Virginia businessman.

2. Best Scandal — Sex and Generalized Carnality

The Palin clan for the brawl of the century (no, no sex but nominated for just generally gettin’ down and dirty when everyone’s good and drunk.)

Gov. Tom Corbett who was Attorney General when members of his staff exchanged pornographic emails.

Carl Demaio for multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Investigator David Nieland, who conducted the internal review of the Homeland Security Department’s prostitution scandal, and then resigned himself over an incident involving a prostitute in Florida.

3. Best Scandal — Local Venue

The political scientists who found themselves at the center of an electoral drama with tens of thousands of dollars and the election of two state supreme court justices at stake.

– Local TV station KSTP for their coverage of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ “gang sign,” what is now known as “Pointergate.”

Cliven Bundy for trying to get America’s sheriffs to disarm the feds.

Monica Wehby, who saw her campaign in Oregon explode when the public caught wind of her stalking and plagiarism.

4. Craziest Campaign Ad

Wendy Davis, who showed an empty wheelchair in an attack ad against Greg Abbott, her Republican challenger who happens to be disabled.

Joni Ernst’s “make em squeal” ad: “I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”

John Jordan, for his conservative group’s ad which used the metaphor of a disappointed woman who is dating Obama: “I know I’m stuck with Barack for two more years, but I’m not stuck with his friends.”

The members of the Michigan Republican Party for their ad against Rep. Gary Peters which argued that he is in the “eye” of some kind of corruption storm that has sharks. Because Sharknado.

5. Best Campaign Gaffe and/or Goof

Alison Grimes for refusing to say if she voted for Obama.

Rick Scott for not taking the debate stage over a fan.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen for accidentally calling his opponent a whore.

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald for not having a valid driver’s license .

6. Outstanding performance in the art of trolling

Nancy Pelosi for welcoming Speaker John Boehner to the social safety-net programs on his 65th birthday.

Rep. Steve Stockman for deciding to go out in a blaze of trolling glory with some pretty weird legislation.

Chuck C. Johnson, who took trolling to new heights when he published an unconfirmed photo and the real name of “Jackie,” an alleged UVA rape victim.

Stephen Colbert, for overall continued excellence in this category, in his final year.

7. Weirdest Conservative Freak Out

Andrea Tantaros for losing it over the Senate Torture Report.

Chris Christie for his mandatory Ebola quarantines.

Fox News pundits for their epic and unhinged coverage of Grubergate, mentioning it 779 times after the “stupidity of the American voter” video leaked.

Sean Hannity and Karl Rove for their outrage over the president’s latte salute.


Best Scandal — General Interest

From reader DC:

Gov Chris Christie of NJ for outstanding achievements in bridge closure. The most award-worthy aspect of his performance is the highest level implausible deniability since Henry II of England asked, “Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

Best Scandal — Sex and Generalized Carnality

From reader CM:

I don’t know exactly which category it belongs in (sex, local), but a bunch of high-level Pennsylvania government officials swapping emails on state-owned computers containing: “hardcore, graphic, sometimes violent emails that had a string of videos and pictures depicting sometimes children, old women. Some of them involved violent sexual acts against women.” Has to count for something…The scandal ran from a state Supreme Court justice and the Environmental Protection secretary all the way down to the janitor. Egalitarianism FTW!

Best Scandal — Local Venue

From reader EF:

Minneapolis Pointergate. Horrifically embarrassing for the local police and a conservative owned media outlet with a checkered reputation already.

Craziest Campaign Ad

From reader DC:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R- Crazytown, IA) for reaching new heights in hog-(de)-nuttery. Seriously, the woman made an ad showing her gelding pigs. If that doesn’t earn a finalist position, nothing can.

Best Campaign Gaffe

From reader DC:

Ed FitzGerald, Democratic candidate for Governor in Ohio for new heights of cluelessness and political malpractice. FitzGerald managed to wield enough influence in the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) to get the 2014 nomination against a vulnerable John Kasich. Kasich’s signature union-gutting SB-5 was overwhelmingly recalled by Ohio voters. FitzGerald apparently forgot that he needed to get his Ohio Driver’s License renewed: for ten years. He drove County vehicles without a valid license while Cuyahoga County Executive. Somehow he never thought this might be an issue.

Outstanding performance in the art of trolling

From DP:

With his retirement this week, I think it’s clear that Outstanding Performance in the Art of Trolling should go to Stephen Colbert, for his character Stephen Colbert. In fact, you could call it a Lifetime Achievement award, and retire the damn category.

I think his achievement is incredible on its face, but I will give one data point: He got the President of the United States involved. Not just as a guest or a foil, but participating in the troll itself. (c.f. The Decree last Monday.)

Weirdest Conservative Freak Out

From reader AT:

For the conservative freakout award – Andrea Tantaros’ “We are awesome!” tantrum. I’ve watched with horrified interest the ascendency of this awful, mean, pinched-faced harridan, but this outburst was such a pure expression of the warped, almost postmodern rewriting-reality depths to which the conservative ego sinks in a desperate effort preserve its integrity. Truly pathetic stuff!

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: