The 10 weirdest members of Congress

Meet the buffoons who are ruining the United States

Every year, Washingtonian magazine runs a survey of the "meanest" bosses on Capitol Hill. Lee has never finished outside of the top three. According to employees, she refers to them as "morons," "idiots," and the always-endearing "stupid motherfuckers."

"I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen," she once told an aide, according to the Houston Press.

When she flies home for visits, she demands that a staffer be waiting with a motorized car to whisk her from the gate. And when she goes abroad, while the rest of the congressional delegation usually travels by military bus, nothing less than a black Mercedes will do.

Although government employees are banned from performing personal services for elected officials, Roll Call magazine discovered that Lee was ordering low-paid workers to run errands during off-hours. Some chauffeured her to the hairdresser. One was summoned from bed after midnight to fetch a bottle of garlic supplements.

The work environment is so bad that one ex-employee was warned by a doctor to quit, or die from the stress. "It's like being an Iraq War veteran," said another.

This might be easier to swallow if Lee abused her power for something important. Yet when it comes to being ineffectual, she's the Democratic answer to Louie Gohmert.

The congresswoman is known as a grandstander extraordinaire, her floor speeches both endless and mind-blistering. At the start of one such effort, journalist Robert Draper counted 100 Democrats on the House floor. Within the first minute, 80 had fled for cover.

"If she was effective, it'd be forgivable," says a Texas Republican who asked not to be named. "But she's not. The only reason she proposes anything is to get airtime."

In fact, abusing employees may be Lee's only achievement after 18 years in Washington. No member of Congress has proposed more failed amendments.

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

3. Trent Franks (R–Arizona)

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You Say "Tomato," He Says "Abortion"

Arizona congressman Trent Franks is the John Coltrane of Congress. He's managed to spend the past decade in Washington playing but one note: an extreme take on abortion.

He may be the country's most irrelevant congressman, passing exactly zero of the 45 bills he's sponsored. Few have been taken seriously enough to even merit a vote.

As Frank sees it, his job isn't to move America forward. It's to talk, talk, and talk some more about abortion.

"Abortion has been his one and only issue," says Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Frank Camacho. "That's his main claim to fame."

This proved true during a recent House debate on fiscal policy, when Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. — who recently pleaded guilty to blowing $750,000 in campaign contributions on his wife and himself — asked if anyone could explain a balanced-budget amendment. Franks eagerly offered his assistance. "I'll give it a shot," he said.

He then proceeded to talk for three minutes about — what else? — abortion. (And Nazis, too!)

Franks has called Obama the "abortion president," and once claimed that abortion laws were more devastating to African-Americans than slavery.

But his zealotry hasn't been particularly effective. Unable to pass national legislation, he lowered his sights to the capital city, pushing a law that would ban women in Washington, D.C., from having an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

When D.C. residents objected in a novel way — by lining up outside Franks's office and asking the Arizona legislator they sarcastically called "mayor" to fix potholes — Franks clumsily sidestepped. "District of Columbia is not the issue," he said. "It's the pain of the child."

The protestors, however, had little to fear. The bill soon died on the House floor. Like everything else Franks does, it was merely one more piece of amateur theater in an ongoing show with no end.

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

2. Paul Broun (R–Georgia)

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Science Is the Devil's Playground

One of the more distressing movements in Jindal's "stupid party" is its increasingly anti-science fervor. Leading the charge is Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, who believes that science is the Devil's work. Literally.

"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell," Broun once declared.

This didn't stop Republican leaders from appointing him to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, a decision akin to Apple hiring Nicki Minaj to head its research division.

In a speech before a sportsman's club, Broun told the audience that while Jesus hates science, Our Savior showed a great deal of enthusiasm in getting Paul Broun elected to Congress and helping him kill a Kodiak bear and two lions.

He's also accused President Obama of upholding the Soviet constitution rather than the U.S. version. Among his proudest moments: He claims to be the first politician to call Obama a "socialist."

Though Broun represents a fundamentalist swath outside Atlanta, his anti-science views don't reflect a sliver of sanity in his district known as Athens, home to the University of Georgia. So biologist Jim Leebens-Mack started a write-in campaign against the congressman.

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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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

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

Hey24s
Hey24s like.author.displayName 1 Like

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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@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?

dutchs1
dutchs1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

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

 
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