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BEST VILLAIN Minneapolis 2003 - Arlon Lindner

Readers' Choice: Norm Coleman

A great strength of any worthwhile villain is the power to distract. Another is the ability to piss off everyone. Lindner, the Republican state rep from Corcoran, proved to be master of both during a crucial legislative session. The man, who once called Buddhism a "cult," made enough ignorant comments this year to have four official protests filed against him--a record at the Capitol--leading to an ethics hearing about his behavior. First Lindner declared that there were no gays and lesbians persecuted during the Holocaust, then he remarked that by maintaining equal rights for gays, lawmakers were in danger of turning Minnesota into "another African continent." (The mailer from Lindner's office to African-American state rep. Neva Walker, addressed to "Walker-Black," was deemed an "accident.") So, keeping tally, that's a direct assault on gays, Jews, and blacks, not to mention anyone with half a brain. Of course, many legislators and citizens of all stripes were outraged by Lindner's continued ignorance. (Though it must be noted that many of Lindner's constituents still support him.) Meanwhile, amid the tumult, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his conservative cohorts continued to push the most drastic budget cuts in state history.

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