It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, it’s the annual “coal in the stocking” list, a roundup of the most heinous, abusive, clueless or simply unlikable lawmakers.
With President Donald Trump leading the country for most of 2017, many politicians were emboldened to be their baddest selves — and here are the 10 worst.
1. Scott Walker
Just when you thought the days of demanding that people receiving government assistance undergo mandatory drug testing were over, well, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is bringing it back.
Despite the fact that drug tests have been declared unconstitutional search-and-seizure, as well as a colossal waste of money, Walker insists that Wisconsin should reconsider the practice. Why? Because there’s nothing that the GOP loves more than shaming people who need assistance from the state.
2. Tim Murphy
Many congressmen have stepped down in scandal this year, but Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy was one of the first. He may not have been the most offensive, but there’s nothing quite like asking your mistress to get an abortion at the same time you’re praising anti-abortion activists.
3. Trent Franks
Arizona Congressman Trent Franks learned a similarly valuable lesson: don’t ask your support staff to have your baby. It took two women to bring Franks down, but he’s officially gone for good after offering to pay a staffer $5 million for surrogacy and then cold shouldering her professionally when she refused. At least now Franks can spend some time at home with his kids.
4. Jim Ziegler
No one would know this politician’s name outside of Alabama, if not for Roy Moore’s GOP nomination for Senate. But after Moore’s primary victory and the subsequent sexual abuse allegations involving teenage girls, Ziegler gave perhaps the most well-known defense of the former judge of any of his supporters: “Well, Joseph was twice as old as Mary when they were married.”
Um, yeah, thanks for that.
5. Paul Ryan
Let’s be honest, the Speaker of the House deserves coal pretty much every year. But this year has especially been a doozy. Paul Ryan has pushed hard for the tax reform package that takes wealth from the poor and gives it to the rich, undermining Obamacare to boot. And don’t forget, next year he wants to gut Social Security and Medicare, too.
But there’s another reason to stuff his stocking with coal this year: his implication that women should just have babies to cure all of society’s woes.
“This is going to be the new economic challenge for America: People. … I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country,” he said as part of a riff on how Republicans planned to tackle entitlement reform in 2018, according to the Washington Post. “We have something like a 90 percent increase in the retirement population of America but only a 19 percent increase in the working population in America. So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology … still going to need more people.”
Gee, thanks, we’ll get right on that.
6. Blake Farenthold
He may have paid off accusers who claimed he created a workplace prone to sexual harassment years ago, but the $84,000 didn’t keep the allegations out of the press. Instead, we learned that the Texas Republican Congressman liked to discuss explicit sex acts with female staff, drink excessively and use ableistic slurs.
As CNN reports:
Elizabeth Peace was hired to help with Farenthold’s communications efforts in May 2015 when [communications director Michael] Rekola was sometimes out of the office to deal with his stomach ailment. Peace, who eventually became a full-time communications director, confirmed in an interview that Farenthold regularly called aides ‘f**ktards.’ She also said she was present when Farenthold made the oral sex comment about Rekola’s then-fiancée.
The Texas Republicans are trying to get Farenthold off the ballot, proof that even they find him unpalatable.
7. Ralph Shortey
When it comes to hypocrisy, through, Republican state legislator Ralph Shortey has them all beat. The Oklahoma state senator and allegedly devout Christian was drummed out of office after being caught in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy, apparently smoking marijuana. And to show that God really does have a sense of humor, he was confronted by police wearing body cameras, recording it for posterity.
“Shortey answered the door in a white t-shirt with the words Ephesians 5:22, a bible verse, written on it, as well as ‘now go make me a sandwich’ written below an image of a sandwich. The bible verse is in reference to women submitting to their husband’s will, as they do to the Lord,” News Channel 4 reported.
8. Jeff Sessions
As attorney general, Jeff Sessions is in the process of remaking the entire Justice Department — and, well, it doesn’t look good for actual justice.
Sessions focused his efforts on doubling down on marijuana prosecution — despite many states’ attempts to legalize it. He also oversaw an uptick in detentions and deportations for undocumented immigrants and reversed positions on LGBT and other civil rights protections. With all of harmful initiatives in just one year, it’s hard to imagine what the rest of President Trump’s term might look like.
9. Richard Hudson
How do you react after not one, but two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history? If you are North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson, you apparently sponsor a bill that undoes all state gun laws, enabling those who live in states with conceal carry permits to carry their guns everywhere. Because surely we can stop gun violence if we just had more guns, right?
10. Steve King
Let’s be honest, no list is complete without Congress’s literal Grinch, Iowa Rep. Steve King. And this year King has given up any pretense of hiding his white supremacist views. Case in point? His recent comment that “mixing cultures” is a recipe for “lower quality” of life.
As the Iowa Globe Gazette reports:
In a tweet, King linked to a Voice of Europe story that quoted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban as saying, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” King, a conservative Republican and leading critic of US immigration policies, followed with a second tweet, “Assimilation has become a dirty word to the multiculturalist Left. Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength.”
So much for peace on earth and goodwill to all men.
Honorable mention: every Republican who has voted to end Obamacare, and refused to reallocate CHIP funding for children’s health programs. Way to be a bunch of Scrooges.