Walter Mondale, Casey Carlson, Jesse James: Minnesota's biggest choke artists
In celebration of the recent Vikings debacle, we present Minnesota's 5 biggest choke artists -- people who had success at hand but blew it for no good reason, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
In 1990, Republican Rudy Boschwitz had already served 12 years in the U.S. Senate, winning each of his two terms by 17-percent margins. The incumbent was a prohibitive favorite to nail down a third term, especially when his DFL opponent turned out to be a political neophyte, a little-known college professor named Paul Wellstone. But Boschwitz's seemingly invincible lead began to melt in the face of a masterful grassroots campaign by Wellstone, who mobilized college students and the politically disenfranchised and created pointedly funny, quirky campaign ads that boosted his profile with voters. Despite outspending Wellstone 7 to 1, Boschwitz lost the election by a mere 2 percent of the votes.
The Vikings in 1999
The year is 1999. January. The Vikings, led by Randy Moss, boast the highest octane offense the NFL has ever seen (34.8 points per contest). They find themselves where everyone expected them to be: The NFC Championship game -- Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota. Just over two minutes remaining in regulation. A rollercoaster of a game. It comes down to a field goal. Vikings fans think to themselves, "Perfect. Gary Anderson hasn't missed a single field goal ALL FREAKIN' SEASON." As he measures his steps for a 38-yard chip-shot, the Vikngs' first Super Bowl appearance in 22 years is a foregone conclusion. Dude could punch this one through blindfolded. Here's the snap. Anderson strides toward the ball. The hold looks good. And it's... wide left? Wide left! WIDE LEFT!! He shanked it! Fuck everything, Anderson shanked it!! The Vikings went on to lose in overtime. Sound familiar?
Jesse was the Lebron of the Midwest, a James who made every shot. That is until his gang tried to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota. Suddenly they were fumbling more than Adrian Peterson. When a cashier refused to open the safe, it bought enough time for citizens to mount a defense and overpower the gang. Several members were captured or killed, with only James and his brother Frank escaping the manhunt. Na-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye.
In 2009, Minnesota finally had an American Idol contestant who was perfect: Cookie-cutter pop star image (she's cute, but can rock the sex-kitten look in a bikini), flirty, and just boring enough to make it mainstream. We forgot one thing that made her an epic fail on American Idol: She can't perform. We found out the hard way when everyone held their heads in shame as she attempted to perform "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by The Police. She winked too much, bombed an already boring song, and brought down all of Minnesota's hopes in one terrible performance. She had the potential to be Minnesota's breakout American Idol queen (we're desperate, alright) and now she is just part of the CW "Crew". Yikes. At least horny college boys at the University of Minnesota can get a little pack of Rolaids in their pants when she walks by on her way to class.
Walter Mondale was the great hope of our frozen state -- the would-be first president from Minnesota. After serving two terms as a U.S. Senator and one term as Jimmy Carter's VP, Mondale seemed a sure thing in 1984 -- at least to Minnesotans (and, to be fair, to the Democratic nominating convention.) Mondale was a smart politician and ahead of his time -- he supported an end to nuclear escalation and the Equal Rights Amendment, and he was the first major party presidential candidate to choose a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, as his running mate. But he lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Only Minnesota and the District of Columbia went blue in 1984. And even Minnesota only chose him by 3,800 votess. Ouch.
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