The 10 weirdest members of Congress

Meet the buffoons who are ruining the United States

Slideshow: See the 10 Weirdest Members of Congress in woodcut form!

8. Scott DesJarlais (R–Tennessee)

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The Anti-Abortion Zealot with a Running Tab at Planned Parenthood

Scott DesJarlais, a family doctor from the outback of Tennessee, is stridently pro-life, known for his righteous denunciations of abortion and adultery.

"All life should be cherished and protected," he declares on his website. Except when that life poses an inconvenience for Scott DesJarlais.

His problems began when he cheated on his first wife in an affair with a patient, and the patient got pregnant.

To save his marriage — and prove the affair was over — the Tennessee Tomcat devised the most misguided coverup since Watergate. He secretly recorded a conversation with his mistress in which he pressured her to get an abortion.

The cherished life of his child had become a "problem" that needed to be "fixed."

"You told me you'd have an abortion," DesJarlais says on the tape. "And now we're getting too far along without one."

As you might expect, his ham-fisted reconciliation plan backfired. As it turns out, DesJarlais wasn't just a serial philanderer; he'd also spent years compiling frequent-flier miles at Planned Parenthood.

Last November, the congressman's 700-page divorce-trial testimony went public. In it, he admitted to affairs with three co-workers, a drug rep, and two other patients. He also confessed to encouraging his wife to get two abortions before they were married.

But these revelations didn't move DesJarlais to a healthy round of soul-searching. Instead, he played the victim card, blaming a political opponent for "false, personal attacks."

When that didn't work — he'd taped his own confession, after all — he took cover in religion, claiming that God had given him a mulligan.

"I know God's forgiven me," DesJarlais announced. "I simply ask my fellow Christians and constituents to do the same." In other words, if his constituents weren't up for "grace and redemption," they were rejecting direct orders from the Lord himself.

DesJarlais was abandoned by members of his own party. The Tennessee Conservative Union, the largest and oldest right-wing group in the state, demanded that he resign.

"The level of shamefulness was unprecedented," says Tennessee Democratic spokesman Brandon Puttbrese. "This is a doctor who had sex with patients and then tried to lecture people on health-care policy, as if he gave a good damn about being an ethical physician."

Yet the cloak of God still trumps hypocrisy in the fundamentalist backwaters of middle Tennessee. DesJarlais was re-elected by a comfortable margin last fall, allowing him to carry on as Washington's official face of grace and redemption.

Slideshow: See the 10 Weirdest Members of Congress in woodcut form!

7. Tom Harkin (D–Iowa)

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Burning Through Billions on Quack Science

In January, Sen. Tom Harkin announced that he would retire in 2015. Washington was soon to lose its biggest advocate for questionable science.

Harkin is most responsible for the creation and continued survival of a little-known office called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. If it sounds relatively harmless, that's the problem.

Harkin's interest in alternative medicine came from personal experience. After trying everything to rid himself of a hay fever allergy, the senator reportedly found relief through heavy dosing of bee pollen, taking up to 60 pills a day.

At the time, he happened to be the chairman of a subcommittee responsible for funding the National Institutes of Health. So in 1991, he introduced a law that would allow the agency to "investigate and validate...unconventional medical practices" — like his bee pollen cure.

"This was the equivalent of a politician starting an organization to investigate UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, and every other kooky conspiracy theory that's out there," says Alex Berezow, editor of online site RealClearScience and author of the book Science Left Behind. "This was the X-Files of medical research."

Investigating is certainly something the center has done. It's the validating part that has caused trouble, much to Harkin's dismay.

Though the agency's budget started at a paltry $2 million, like everything else in Washington, it has metastasized, to nearly $130 million annually. It has blown through billions testing dubious "cures" better left to late-night infomercials. The effect of distant prayer on AIDS. Harp music on stress levels. Therapeutic touch on bone cancer.

Unsurprisingly, not one of these methods has proven effective. In fact, in his attempt to legitimize alternative medicine, Harkin has actually accomplished the opposite: He's managed to nearly discredit it entirely.

Study after center study has shown that placebos are just as effective as Harkin's homeopathic miracles. In some cases, the "cures" were actually found to make things worse, as when the center discovered that St. John's wort rendered certain cancer drugs less effective.

That the scientific method is able to weed the good from the bad would seem to be the one positive outcome of Harkin's two-decade misadventure. Yet the senator sees it as "discrimination," lamenting that his agency has been "disproving things rather than seeking out and approving things."

Unfortunately for Harkin, that's how science works.

Slideshow: See the 10 Weirdest Members of Congress in woodcut form!

6. Dana Rohrabacher (R–California)

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When Tragedy Strikes, You Can Never Go Wrong by Blaming the Muslims

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11 comments
BeenThere
BeenThere

Grayson is one of the weird because he calls crazy people "crazy?" You must have been desperate to find a Democrat to put in the same loony bin as the Repuglicans.

MasterofReality
MasterofReality

Grayson has long been a kook.  Do some research, naysayers!

Fogmaster
Fogmaster

When it comes blowing City Pages blows much harder than Grayson. Your inclusion of Grayson on this list is another example of fake opinion and news. In order to appear "objective " you go out of your way to create false equivalencies, and that insane paranoid lying versus passionate factual provocation is "partisanship". Although you folks consider yourselves challengers you are beholden to your sponsors. You share Grayson's "gift for situational ethics when the going gets tough."

BillStewart2012
BillStewart2012

Yes, Grayson's a loudmouth, and I think he's wrong on lots of issues.  

But he's also the Congresscritter who had the guts to propose the "War Makes You Poor" act, requiring the government to actually raise taxes to pay for war spending if they want to have a war.  Obviously that was a total non-starter with the Republicans, who want to have wars while pretending that they're not responsible for the cost, and it's not like the Democrats supported him either. 

mark.davis1
mark.davis1

Sorry,

I disagree with your characterization of Alan Grayson. He is a progressive champion and yes he tells it like it is. Funny how City Pages has gone down hill since Monica Bauerlein left for Mother Jones and Steve Paerry left for Minn Post. In fact all of your better journalists became a mass exodus in 2007. I sometime rely on City Pages for entertainment but often find you scooped by Vitamin. How the mighty have fallen.   

notifier
notifier

Grayson represents Kissimmee/South Orlando not Clearwater

Hey24s
Hey24s

Please do a little more research on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Health before publishing an article like this.  

dutchs1
dutchs1

Sheila Lee demands to be met at the gate by a "motorized car." Those little pedal-powered jobs are so undignified.

Hey24s
Hey24s

They've been integral in our understanding of health, healing and disease.  These days its very common to go into any hospital or clinic and find doctors and nurses making referrals and prescribing effective uses of complementary therapy for symptom management.  Putting all complementary therapies under one umbrella as "quackery" is lazy and adheres to an old western-medicine arrogance that perpetuates misinformation.

Hey24s
Hey24s

@Hey24s and please actually read the published research rather than making one sweeping claim that it's all been discredited by the placebo effect.  Was your resource just that one guy from RealClearScience?

 
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