The 10 weirdest members of Congress

Meet the buffoons who are ruining the United States

Dana Rohrabacher isn't a central-casting conservative. The Laguna Beach congressman surfs, wears Hawaiian shirts under his blazers, and has admitted to doing everything except slurp the bongwater when it comes to drugs.

But when it comes to seeing Muslims around every dark corner, Rohrabacher is the self-anointed flag-bearer of the Republican fringe.

Take the Oklahoma City bombing: Though all evidence points to a plot executed by homegrown goobers, Rohrabacher was certain the Muslims were to blame.

So he traveled to a supermax prison in Colorado to interview co-conspirator Terry Nichols. The congressman was convinced that Nichols had been taught to build bombs in the Philippines by Ramsi Yousef, the man behind the first World Trade Center attack. He also sent a staffer to the island nation to prove the connection.

Yet Nichols, who had every incentive to throw blame elsewhere, admitted there was no conspiracy.

A year later, Rohrabacher stumbled into a new black hole, this one involving the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

On the night in 1968 when Kennedy was murdered by Sirhan Sirhan, the congressman was attending a different election party at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He claims he saw "another Arab" tackled and arrested by police in the lobby.

Naturally, the spotting of two Arabs in a single L.A. hotel could not be coincidence. To Rohrabacher, it could only mean one thing: a vast Palestinian conspiracy!

Fast-forward to the day in 2007 that Sirhan, an inmate at California State Prison, Corcoran, was told by guards that someone named "Diana" had arrived to see him. Instead of a woman visitor, however, Sirhan found himself face-to-face with Rohrabacher and two aides. He assured the congressman there was no conspiracy.

"I think [Rohrabacher's] kookiness is part of what's kept him in Washington," says Debbie Cook, the former mayor of Huntington Beach, who came closest to unseating the 13-term representative. "The more he keeps his name in the press, the better he does."

Even without the support of convicted killers, Rohrabacher's conspiracy theories soldier on. His latest emerged after the slayings of Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi. The congressman took to Twitter to suggest that President Obama had left the men to die to ensure his re-election.

It was a bizarre assertion, given that dead ambassadors rarely make for effective campaign commercials.

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

5. Louie Gohmert (R–Texas)

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Loud, Proud, and Without a Functioning Cerebral Cortex

In January, Republican leaders convened in Charlotte to lick their wounds from the last election. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal got straight to the point: "We must stop being the stupid party."

No one better exemplifies Jindal's lament than the man whose district shares Louisiana's border, Texas congressman Louie Gohmert.

Gohmert's apparent strategy: The louder and crazier he talks, the less anyone will notice his lack of a functioning cerebral cortex.

Take the February 2012 hearing at which Gohmert claimed the trans-Alaska pipeline was responsible for a booming caribou population. Flowing oil warmed the ground, he explained, serving as an aphrodisiac for the antlered set.

"So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline," claimed the Carrie Bradshaw of imaginary science.

Less amusing were comments in the wake of mass shootings. After the Sandy Hook massacre, he said of the school's murdered principal: "I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office."

Following the movie-theater slaughter in Aurora, Colorado, he bemoaned the fact that no one had pulled a gun, allowing for "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" — as if deranged killer James Holmes had somehow struck a blow for atheism.

Gohmert tried to remedy this perceived cowardice in his own workplace, introducing legislation that would allow politicians to carry pistols in the Capitol. (Like nearly all legislation he proposes, it went nowhere.)

But Gohmert's weirdness reaches beyond guns and caribou. Any conservative congressman worth his American-flag lapel pin must have a Muslim conspiracy theory. Gohmert's is more lacking in evidence than the rest.

His latest outcry is the "terror babies" conspiracy, a scenario in which scores of pregnant Muslim women fly to the U.S. solely to give birth, and the children return to the Middle East to undergo decades of anti-American indoctrination. Once the kids reach maturity, they fly back to blow up a small chunk of the country, thus completing their mission.

The FBI gives no credence to his theory. And when told by CNN's Anderson Cooper that the notion was ridiculous, Gohmert offered no evidence to the contrary.

Instead, he compared himself to Winston Churchill, telling Cooper that "the explosions will not happen for 10 or 15 or 20 years, and then you will be one of those blips."

It doesn't quite sound like the new, intellectual Republican Party Jindal is aiming for.

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

4. Sheila Jackson Lee (D–Texas)

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The Queen of Mean in the Nation's Capital

Houston's Sheila Jackson Lee arrived in Congress in 1995. It took 11 days for the first of Lee's staff members to quit, and the congresswoman has shown no sign of slowing down since.

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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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