Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 193)

April 11, 2005
Spouting Thomas Edition

Tom DeLay (1,6) tops the list again this week after a tough week for ethics violators, but Fox News (2) is more than happy to give him an assist. Mel Martinez (3) owned up to the Terri Schiavo memo - sort of - not that The Forgery Shovelers (4) cared of course. And John Cornyn (5) suggested that perhaps judges should tone down the old "judging" thing if they cared about their safety. Yup, it's been a prime week for conservative idiocy. Elsewhere, Republican Hypocrites (7) seem to have gone silent on the issue of high gas prices, The Jeff Gannon Show (8) rolled into town for an encore, Michelle Bachman (9) hid in some bushes, and what happens when you mix professional wrestling with right-wing whackery? You get my new all-time favorite conservative idiot in the form of Warrior And Chums (10). Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1Tom DeLay just plain evil
This might be the understatement of the year, but Tom DeLay is in the shit. Last week the Campaign for America's Future put up a handy cheat sheet of DeLay's recent scandals, which include taking fancy business trips paid for by lobbyists, taking campaign contributions for favors, using a federal agency (the FAA) for partisan purposes, and alleged money laundering, among other things. In the past week it was also revealed that since 2001 DeLay's wife and daughter have personally received more than $500,000 from his political action committees, and in 1997 DeLay took a trip to Russia which was "underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government," according to the Washington Post. He later cast votes in support of those same business interests. DeLay has done what he can to clear himself of the charges by, um, trying to change House ethics rules to make the whole thing go away. But let's face it, that doesn't really make him look any better. So what's a poor, downtrodden House Majority Leader to do when the heat is on? Why, blame somebody else, of course! Last week DeLay called the reports about his scandalous behavior "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me." Aww, poor baby. But let it be known that the GOP is backing Tom DeLay all the way, so hats off to the Republican party for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Bugman, and we'll just wait and see where their firm conviction for being led by an unethical megalomaniac gets them in 2006.

2Fox News partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship
Of course, DeLay's pals at Fox News have been doing their best to disabuse the public of the notion that he might bear just a tiny bit of responsibility for his alleged ethics violations. Media Matters noted that several Fox News hosts went out of their way last week to assist DeLay in his attempt to blame the media for his problems: Brit Hume reported that, "Here in Washington, the press is after Tom DeLay again, but wait 'til you hear the facts," and, "speaking of Tom DeLay, the mainstream media were out after him again today." John Gibson said, "The liberal media is hammering 'The Hammer' - Tom DeLay under a microscope and under the gun. Is this simply a media hit job?" (In order to get a fair and balanced answer he interviewed Rich Lowry, editor of the right-wing National Review.) And our old friend Sean Hannity referred to the "liberal allegations" against DeLay and asked, "Is he the target of a smear campaign?" So if you want to know the details of the charges against Tom DeLay, don't bother asking Fox News. They're more concerned about protecting their buddy than they are about actually reporting the facts.

3Mel Martinez covering your ass covering your ass dumb
Last week conservative pundits and bloggers were agog with the possibility that the infamous "Terri Schiavo memo" - which instructed Republican senators to make political hay out of her case - might have been a fake passed around by - booo! - Democrats in order to make Republicans look bad. Because surely Republicans simply aren't capable of playing such awful political games. Yeah right. But the whole thing fell apart at the seams last week when it was revealed that the memo actually came from the office of freshman GOP senator Mel Martinez. Of course, Martinez was completely in the dark about the memo - which explains why he was, uh, carrying it around in his pocket - and fired his aide Brian Darling for taking action "unilaterally." At this point it's probably worth mentioning that the St. Petersburg Times said back in November 2004 that "When challenged, Martinez was too eager to assign blame to his staff or to groups he said he couldn't control. As a senator, he will need an office and a staff that speaks with the measured and centrist tone he says will be his own. He can't pretend to be above it all if the people he employs are not." It certainly appears that Martinez hasn't taken that advice to heart. But in case you were worried about the future of poor Brian "Unilateral" Darling, don't fret. He used to work for the Alexander Strategy Group, whose chairman Edwin A. Buckham (former chief of staff to - ta da! - Tom DeLay) said last week that "He is still going to have a bright future in this town." Why am I not surprised...

4The Forgery Shovelers excessive spin excessive spin
The news that the memo was in fact not a fake, and did in fact originate from the office of a Republican senator, was somewhat embarrassing to the folks who'd been shoveling the forgery meme. After the "Democratic fakery" angle had played out on right-wing talk radio during the week - without any actual evidence, of course - The Washington Times ran a front page, above-the-fold story alleging that the memo could have been a dirty trick. The Times' claim that the memo was fake was based, incredibly, on this: "A survey by The Washington Times found that every Republican said the memo was not crafted or distributed by him or her." Which obviously cleared up the whole matter. Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh announced that "it appears it's a forged memo all over again!" quoting the American Spectator who wrote, "It's Rathergate all over again, and the same vigilant entities that brought about the collapse of CBS News could now also cause heads to roll among Democratic Senate leadership staffers and further shame multiple news organizations that would appear to have fallen for another document hoax." Crowed Rush, "The memo was made up by Democrat staffers." Whoops. John Aravosis at AmericaBlog has a great screenshot of a page from Rush's website which tells the world to "Listen to Rush Conduct Broadcast Excellence." Aravosis also noted that one of the American Spectator's aforementioned vigilant entities, "blog of the year" Powerline - who went nuts accusing the Democrats of faking the Schiavo memo - were still clinging desperately to the possibility that they could turn it against the left by blaming the media for misreporting the story. Nice try, morons.

5John Cornyn excessive spin excessive spin excessive spin excessive spin crybaby
What could be the reason for the recent wave of violence against judges? Just a few weeks ago, a judge's family was murdered. And there was that incident where a man on trial for rape and murder stole a gun and shot a judge dead in court. What could be prompting this crime wave? Have no fear: Sen. John Cornyn has the answer. "I Ė I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection," he pondered on the Senate floor last week, "but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in Ė engage in violence." Don't worry though - apparently Cornyn didn't mean it. According to the UK Guardian, he wrote a letter last week saying he was "not aware of evidence linking judges' decisions with possible violence. 'I certainly hope that people will not construe my remarks on Monday to state otherwise,' he said." Oh, perish the thought. So I guess you were talking about... what, exactly, Senator? The good news though is that John Cornyn has learned a lesson from all this. And here it is: "The lesson I learned is that Washington is a very tough political environment and if people can take what you say out of context and use it against you, they will." Seriously. He actually said that.

6 Tom DeLay excessive spin excessive spin
One more entry for the Bugman this week, and it relates directly to the John Cornyn entry above. Cornyn may not be able to legitimately blame the most recent incidents of violence against judges and their families as some sort of revenge for their supposed judicial activism - but he soon will if Tom DeLay keeps it up. We already noted DeLay's not-so-veiled threats to the judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case ("The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior") and last week he kicked it up a notch. DeLay said that the judiciary has "run amok" and "overstepped its authority on countless occasions." His solution? Unclear. But he also said that "Our next step, whatever it is, must be more than rhetoric." Various conservative leaders decided to pick up that ball and run with it, meeting in Washington last week to discuss "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny." Phyllis Schafly and Michael P. Farris - chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association - both agreed that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ought to be impeached for his opinion that juveniles shouldn't be executed. But it was Edwin Vieira who seemed to be taking Tom Delay's comments to their logical conclusion, citing Joseph Stalin in his "bottom line" for dealing with judges. "[Stalin] had a slogan," said Viera, "and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem.'" The full quote that Viera paraphrased, in case you were wondering, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." So, uh, is anyone else bothered that leading conservatives are now using Joe Stalin as an example of how to deal with their enemies?

7Republican Hypocrites hypocrisy hypocrisy
Special thanks here to the Top Ten reader (you know who you are, sir!) who sent me a list of links featuring Republicans whining about high gas prices in 2000. I'm sure most of you are aware that average gas prices have been topping $2.50 per gallon recently, with San Franciscans recently reporting more than $3 per gallon for regular unleaded:

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

Now let's take a look at what some of those Republicans had to say in 2000, when gas was around a full dollar cheaper per gallon than it is today:

Rep. Terry Everett: "The Clinton Administration has failed in its duty to develop a policy to deal with our national energy supply and is therefore directly accountable for the higher prices Americans are now paying at the gas pumps."

Dennis Hastert: "House Speaker Dennis Hastert accused the Clinton administration Friday of misleading members of Congress about the causes of skyrocketing gas prices in the Midwest."

Rep. Wally Herger: "Congressman Wally Herger recently denounced the Clinton-Gore Administration's complacency during the current gas price crisis. 'Northern Californians are being held hostage at the gas pump,' Herger said. 'The Clinton-Gore Administration has demonstrated a complete and total lack of leadership in preventing this problem. It is a clear failure of domestic and foreign policy.'"

Larry Kudlow: "The Clinton-Gore administrationís hapless and incoherent management of foreign policy is nowhere as evident as in their bungling on OPECís oil-price hike. ... While crude oil prices could drop to $25 per barrel, they will stay well above the average $20 real price of oil registered over the past ten years. And way above the $10 worldwide average marginal cost of producing new oil. Meanwhile gas prices at the pump are likely to be upwards of $2 per gallon well into the summer."

Glenn Spencer: "In recent weeks, gas prices have surged to their highest level in a decade. Prices for home heating oil and natural gas are expected to rise by about 30 percent this winter. ... With the Clinton-Gore administration's policies largely to blame for the pain being felt by consumers, Vice President Gore's camp has pulled out all the stops to shift blame away from his own administration."

Various Repubs: "Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), Tom Petri (R-Fond du Lac), Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), and Mark Green (R-Green Bay) today blasted Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and the Clinton-Gore Administration for their failure to implement a comprehensive energy policy to deal with staggering gas prices Wisconsin consumers continue to face at the pumps."

So, gas is about 60-75% per gallon more at the pump and oil is about 100% more per barrel than it was when these moaning minnies were whining about how much Bill Clinton and Al Gore sucked, but now George W. Bush is the president - why, his shit don't stink. Perhaps they're still waiting for him to "jawbone" OPEC? Either that or they don't care about gas prices now that he's, y'know, got the gays on the run.

8The Jeff Gannon Show dumb
We noted last week that our old pal Jeff Gannon was going to be appearing at a National Press Club panel on journalism and blogging, and pondered why he was invited to be there since he wasn't a journalist or a blogger. Well it turns out that Gannon was apparently asked along for the purposes of providing hilarious comic relief. Among Gannon's classic gags from last Friday's event were the suggestion that simply reprinting administration press releases is the same as real journalism, and that the government had to pay Armstrong Williams to write a positive story on No Child Left Behind because nobody else would. Funny stuff! He even held up one of those stupid red counties vs. blue counties maps which right-wingers love to use to demonstrate how "red" the country is, except - and this is the mark of a comedy genius at work - the red states were all green, because apparently his printer was running out of ink. But the laugh of the day was surely reserved for this absolute corker: "You can hardly call Fox News conservative." Oh Jeff, you are a clown!

9Michelle Bachmann cowardice cowardice cowardice
Last week Minnesota State Senator Michelle Bachmann (R-Obviously) tried to force a vote on a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage; Democrats said she was trying to end-run Senate rules for political gain. That she chose to do this on the same day that the local gay community was rallying for their rights on the grounds of the Capitol was certainly dubious. According to Eleventh Avenue South, "Even Senate Republicans thought it was in poor taste to try to go around Senate rules on the same day GLBT citizens were making their voice heard. Her move was overwhelmingly defeated." But one of Eleventh Avenue South's eagle-eyed readers happened to catch something rather strange that day - it turned out that Michelle Bachmann had gone to take a look at the rally, but, obviously feeling very frightened of the scary homosexuals, decided to hide in some bushes. Fortunately, the reader got pictures:

Peek-a-boo! What a coward. You know, that photo kind of reminds me of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney during Vietnam.

10Warrior And Chums racism homophobia misogyny
And finally, the artist formerly known as "The Ultimate Warrior" (now apparently just plain "Warrior" for some reason) made a professional wrestling-sized ass of himself at the University of Connecticut last week, choke-slamming the UConn College Republicans in the process. Former WWF star Warrior had apparently been invited by the College Republicans to speak about... well, actually that's not entirely clear. But Warrior is a radical right-wing nutcase, so presumably that's all the reason they needed. Unfortunately Warrior was a little too nutty even for the College Republicans, "screaming and stomping on the stage," according to, and provoking the crowd into a frenzy. The evening turned sour when Warrior answered an Iranian student's question by telling him that he needed to "get a towel," and pontificated on such subjects as why "Queering don't make the world work." Which is a bit odd coming from a guy who used to make a living publicly groping a steady stream of greased-up bodybuilders in leotards.

Anyway, it turns out that the UConn College Republicans were a tad embarrassed by the debacle, issuing a profoundly apologetic press release the next day. They made sure to mention that they were sending individual letters of apology to, "the Rainbow Center, AQUA, QUAD, the African American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center, the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, the Iranian Students Association, and the Women's Center." Oh, and in case you were wondering, "this is not a complete list of the groups that will receive a direct written apology from the College Republicans." Good lord.

But the story doesn't end there: the College Republicans' press release provoked a hilarious outburst "From the Desk Of Warrior" where he announced (in the third person!) that "All of the above notwithstanding, it is somewhat sad to see how utterly spineless the UConn College Republicans have turned out to be. Not a single UConn CR voiced any objection to Warrior after the event. The detailed emails between Warrior and the UConn CRs reveal that the CRS repeatedly encouraged Warrior to single out the Tent City Trash for some re-education. Yet, it now seems that the CRS have collectively decided to bow down and beg forgiveness from various extremist, anti-American, left-wing groups who infest the UConn campus. Perhaps the UConn CRS should refrain from engaging in political activism until such time as they develop enough backbone to be able to withstand not being liked by their opponents." Ooh, smackdown! See you next week!

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