Around this time last year, when I was writing the Golden Dukes 2022 introduction post to open up TPM’s troll awards season, I didn’t even know what a George Santos was. At the time, the now-expelled, self-described “Mary Magdalene of the United States Congress” had just won his election and we were weeks away from the deluge of revelations about his life, including his embellished résumé — and, soon, much worse.
Back then we were discussing since-out-scandalized creatures like Ron DeSantis, who kidnapped migrants for a campaign stunt, or Blake Masters, who put out an ad where he made clear he was ready to hunt humans as game, or Dr. Oz’s crudité situation. It wasn’t really a simpler time, but, looking back, it was a less entertaining one.
That’s because George Santos took us back to a much more innocent era of public corruption. Yes, sure, he defrauded donors and spent campaign cash on Botox. He pretended to be a volleyball star and the son of a 9/11 victim. He lied about his heritage and made creative use of the term “jew-ish.” He used Diane Feinstein’s death to soft-launch his “husband.” The dog thing was really bad. He pretended to steal a baby.
But Santos was a minor freak who gave us political junkies a gift we didn’t know we needed after years of Trump hell and pandemic trauma and daily reminders of just how fragile democracy has become — the ability to laugh without feeling (too) gross.
That said, we’re back and grosser than ever.
TPM’s public corruption Oscars have returned, the most wonderful time of the year where we will recognize 2023’s scummiest trash holes and greatest grifters. The Golden Dukes have been running for 15 years now, offering TPM staff and readers a moment during the holidays to catch our breath and revel in the comedic absurdity of scandal, brazenness and our dark political moment.
That’s where you come in. As an established and prestigious event, we are asking you, our loyal readers, to weigh in and nominate the most rotten offenders in the following categories.
For posterity we will continue to hand out awards for:
- Best Scandal – General Interest
- Best Scandal – Sex & Generalized Carnality
- Best Scandal – Local Venue
- Meritorious Achievement in the Crazy
However, to stay current and make sure that we are keeping up with various innovations and outstanding achievements in scandal and corruption, we’d like to rotate a few fresh categories in each year. Here’s what’s new:
- The Summer Of George — A new category dedicated to the best George Santos moments, frauds, scandals, remarks, etc.
- Judge Lest Ye Be Judged — 2023 gifted us not just a new cast of judicial characters to go along with the various Trump indictments, but judges old (Clarence Thomas) and new (Matthew Kacsmaryk) were on their worst behavior this year.
- Best Use Of A Visual Aid — It’ll be difficult to top Donald Trump’s sharpie hurricane map moment, but the 2023 Ron DeSantis poop map may be a close contender.
Now it’s time to nominate. Let us know who you think is most deserving of recognition in each repulsive category: