Golden Dukes Nominations And Judges Announced!

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TPM is pleased to announce that we will be awarding our Seventh Annual Golden Dukes on Friday, Dec. 27, 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. This year’s award is sponsored by Media Matters, which also gives out its own annual award, Misinformer of the Year, given for the biggest errors by a media figure/institution in 2013.

As a special muck-tastic addition this year, there will be an actual Golden Duke statuette sculpted and cast as tribute to the big winner.

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

Rob Ford for putting Canadian politics on the American map in the best possible way.

Bob Filner for claiming that he was subject to a “lynch mob” even though in all likelihood there are fewer women he encountered in his political career who weren’t sexually harassed than women who were.

Bob McDonnell for teaching us that amid far-right religious beliefs, essays on a woman’s role (this is a guy who would vote against women’s suffrage), Confederate History Month fiasco and general GOP stances on economic issues (offshore drilling, privatization, lower taxes for millionaires, etc.), it’s the Rolex watch that will get you.

Paula Deen who was brought down by nostalgia for an earlier South that went beyond butter and molasses and included the casual use of the “n word” and African American waitstaff dressed up for plantation-style weddings.

2. Best Scandal — Sex and Generalized Carnality

Bob Filner for falling into a trap other men in positions of importance sometimes do: assuming the women who worked for him and the women who approached him in support of a cause or had reason to speak with him were somehow deserving of harassment.

Rob Ford for the best ending to a press conference ever: “Oh, and the last thing was Olivia Gondek. It says that I wanted to eat her p****. I’ve never said that in my life to her; I would never do that. I’m happily married, I’ve got more than enough to eat at home. Thanks very much.”

Timothy Barraclough and Ignacio Zamora Jr. for a sex scandal so bad the Secret Service was finally willing to appoint a female director.

Anthony Weiner for the most glorious swan song in public life: Getting caught with sexting — twice.

William Blakely for inspiring the following headline “Former Tenn. Lawmaker Allegedly Drove 90 MPH While Masturbating Out Window”

3. Best Scandal — Local Venue

The proud administrators of West Virginia’s Mingo County for a conspiracy involving accusations of corruption, an extramarital affair, rape, murder, moonshine, and prescription pills

The Brewers of Utah for an explosive sex triangle that left one small town reeling.

Rob Ford for offenses including crack smoking, lying about crack smoking, close ties with gangs, frequent drunk driving, public intoxication, alleged heroin use, public urination on school grounds, his infamous “I get enough to eat at home” comment and so much more.

Bob Filner for becoming such an unpopular mayor that even Hooters won’t serve him.

Chris Christie’s pals for reminding us that you you don’t wield real power unless you can cause gridlock for days allegedly as a result of retribution for a non-endorsement.

4. Meritorious Achievement in The Crazy

Scott Terry and Matthew Heimbach who declared at CPAC that Republicans were reaching out to minority voters at the “expense of young white Southern males” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Don Yelton for defending North Carolina’s Voter ID law on the Daily Show and criticizing “lazy black people that want the government to give them everything.”

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) who claimed the Obama administration “has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.”

Rep. Steve King for saying that for every undocumented immigrant who makes valedictorian, there are 100 more who have “got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Rep. Steve Stockman for saying, “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.”

5. The Year In Derp

Rep. Ted Yoho for calling the tanning bed tax “racist.”

Mark Halperin for taking his cues from Sarah Palin in asserting that “death panels” are “built into” Obamacare.

Rick Santorum for pointing out that the fight against Obamacare is exactly like Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid.

Ted Cruz for his shutdown fight that seemed to actually be about his 21-hour phony filibuster.

6. Outstanding Achievement In Corruption-based Chutzpah

Angela Spaccia for getting convicted on 11 counts of corruption charges in her position in her role as assistant city manager of Bell, California.

Chris Christie’s pals for exacting political revenge in the form of the worst commute ever.

Rob Ford who demanded that reporters ask him if used crack and then responded with his patented flair and disdain: “Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors.”

Judge Michael Thornsbury who led a corrupt “courthouse gang” in West Virginia’s Mingo County down a corrupt path of an extramarital affair, rape, murder, moonshine, and prescription pills.

John Swallow for having to resign over failure to report business interests and income on financial disclosure forms.

7. Best Scandal By A Non-Politician

Paula Deen for explaining to everyone that the “n word” could be “not said in a mean way.”

Alec Baldwin for getting dropped faster from MSNBC than Martin Bashir.

Lance Armstrong for having the hubris to admit to doping for years … in front of Oprah.

Beyonce for lip-syncing the national anthem at President Obama’s Second Inauguration.

Here are the best emails that selected some of our lucky nominees:


Best Scandal — General Interest

TPM Reader Jacob Boone:

As a Toronto resident, it’s my dubious honor to nominate Rob Ford for any and all other categories. Offenses include: crack smoking, lying about crack smoking, close ties with gangs, frequent drunk driving, public intoxication (in official Mayoral duties), heroin use (alleged by gang members), public urination on school grounds (as photographed by police plane tracking him), possible extortion (through Sandro Lisi, his dealer/driver/friend) for crack video, his infamous “I get enough to eat at home” comment (after using “P_ _SSY” on live TV, and on and on. And topping it off general audacity to stay in office (unless/until he is criminally convicted, we have no recourse to oust him). I’m forgetting a lot, but then the well is very deep. As a PS, he now blames our Chief of Police for all of his troubles (the Chief must have had it in for him for wanting to cut the police budget- of course. That explains it all….)

Best Scandal — Sex and Generalized Carnality

TPM Reader Darren Staley:

Anthony Weiner. He resigned from Congress after sending pics of his, er, weiner. Every person in the Unites States has seen this man’s junk.

Best Scandal — Local Venue

TPM Reader SP:

I’d like to nominate Chris Christie for the GWB lane closures that paralyzed Fort Lee, NJ, because the town’s Democratic mayor would not support this MINO (moderate in name only) for governor. Why exact such a petty revenge on the people of Fort Lee and the commuters of Bergen and Rockland counties when he was already going to win in a landslide? Total overreach.

The Year In Derp

TPM Reader TH:

I would like to honor one Mark “Hapless” Halperin, namely for his incredibly, amazingly, stupendously erroneous comments about IPAB, i mean, the Death Panel Board!!! For implicitly agreeing in referring to it as a Death Panel, to his follow-up moonwalk where he still claims that IPAB will have to cut services, when it legally cannot do so.

TPM Reader AP:

Surely the trifecta in derp was Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham during his 21-hour Senate speech, which was (1) not a filibuster, notwithstanding how it was billed; (2) delayed a vote on the House bill to defund Obamacare, the position he actually favored; and (3) amounted to reading a story about how silly it is to reject something before you’ve tried it as part of a strategy to block the funding of a law that had not yet gone into effect.

Best Scandal By A Non-Politician

TPM Reader TH:

I think Paula Deen deserves to run away with this award (although she probably shouldn’t run, given her likely cholesterol level). Mrs. Deen, who would have been a key witness for the Government in Shelby County vs. Holder, “enlightened” non-Southerns to a not-so-secret world that still exists today. The best part about her is that this was not malicious racism (not that racism isn’t inherently malicious, but stay with me); rather, it was good, old fashioned, “that’s just how things are” jovial racism.

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