It’s Rudy! The Melting Mayor Beats Cunningham To Become TPM’s 2020 Duke Of Dukes

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December 31, 2020 11:02 a.m.
TPM Illustration/Getty Images

The votes are in! And, overwhelmingly, you’ve decided: The duke of dukes goes to Rudy Giuliani, once dubbed America’s mayor and of late America’s sinister buffoon.

Giuliani trounced the eponymous Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, winning a whopping 89 percent of the vote.

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It’s been an operatic tenure for Giuliani, as he’s traveled the world as the President’s bagman: palling around with the sanctioned, extorting the government of Ukraine to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden, charging for access to the DOJ, and jumping from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot to hawk insane conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

That combination of glitz, absurdity, and sheer grift and graft earn Rudy the prize for the crème de la crème of the rotten, ridiculous, and corrupt.

And it’s not just his antics but your votes that helped Giuliani defeat these awards’ namesake, the ignominious Duke Cunningham.

One reader described it as “Epic clownish disgrace and disloyalty to the country on an international scale spanning years,” while others, comparing him to the defeated Cunningham, point towards the world-historical implications of Rudy’s bumbling idiocy.

And, perhaps most succinctly, one reader argued that “Rudy encompasses all four eras of the Golden Dukes!”

But what brought Rudy here?

To some, his recent conduct comes as no surprise. Take the Rudy presented by Wayne Barrett in his seminal 2000 biography of the New York politico.

In that volume, we find a Rudy scarfing down “grease-oozing hamburgers,” a philanderer who, while working as a federal prosecutor, secretly flew to Nicaragua without DOJ authorization to get testimony from a U.S. diplomat as part of a corruption inquiry into a Democratic congressman.

Sound familiar?

But that tri-state area buffoon bumbled into the Trump era from a relatively vanilla place: not his position as New York City’s hizzoner, but from the very marrow of the right-wing media, accusing President Obama of not loving America and crying that, in war, “anything’s legal.”

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For us gourmands of corruption and absurdity, it’s hard to choose from the fine offerings that Rudy has put on offer since Trump took office. "

From there, Giuliani cottoned onto Trump’s nascent candidacy, announcing his support and advice for The Donald, before delivering a famously frothy address at the 2016 RNC.

That’s all bog-standard, Giuliani’s jejune phase before coming into his own as a Michelangelo of the grift post-2016.

And for us gourmands of corruption and absurdity, it’s hard to choose from the fine offerings that Rudy has put on offer since Trump took office.

There’s his recent appearance, as lurid as it was emetic, in Borat. Or, more seriously, Giuliani’s travels to Ukraine and dealings with businessmen thereof, in which he found himself squired by a graduate of Moscow’s KGB academy, meeting with neer-do-wells in a futile bid for dirt on Hunter Biden, and storming the 2018 midterms with two soon-to-be indicted lowlifes.

And there’s the brazen buckraking throughout. He had Joe-mentum last summer on a trip to speak at the MeK’s conference in Albania along with Joe Lieberman, and traveled to Armenia to headline a pro-Russian conference.

Investigators dogged the former mayor throughout, with Comey at one point asking for a probe into leaks to “people like Giuliani.” Rudy, in his own unique vintage of shamelessness, himself once used “Comey” as a verb to interfere in an election.

Which leads us to the pièce de résistance of Giulianian graft: his quixotic bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election. That took him to the now famous Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot, a feat alone worthy of the Dukes award, but when combined with the weeks he’s spent since Nov. 3 embarrassing himself around the country in the most damaging way possible — and getting COVID while doing it — we have no choice but to stan.

And, also, to recall the one moment of self-reflection that Giuliani, Duke of Dukes, has had these past years; when he fretted that his tombstone would read “He Lied For Trump.”

TPM Illustration/Getty Images
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