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THE BEAST 50 MOST LOATHSOME PEOPLE IN AMERICA, 2008click here for printer-friendly version
10. Bernard Madoff
Charges: Normally, the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowments, and is responsible for two suicides so far. Here’s a tip, Bernie: If you’re running the biggest scam since the Catholic church, handling billions of dollars, and all it takes to get busted is that some of your marks ask for their money back, you really should take some of that money and set up an escape plan. Still, he gets some credit for making Mort Zuckerman look like a jackass. The real villains here are Christopher Cox and the SEC, who investigated Madoff eight times, the last time specifically on suspicion of running a Ponzi scheme, each time “finding” no wrongdoing, which begs the all-too-familiar question of the last eight years: Satanically corrupt or grossly incompetent? Either way, Madoff was finally brought to justice… by his kids.
Exhibit A: "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules ... but it's impossible for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time."
Sentence: Sold into slavery.
9. Phil Gramm
Charges: Gramm’s blood-boiling “nation of whiners” comment was a pinnacle of class condescension in a year teeming with “let them eat cake” moments, but it was by no means an isolated incident. In fact, the ruinous state of our economy can be seen as the culmination of his career, one he spent derailing the economy in an effort to implement his anarchist regulatory philosophy, earning him the title "the most effective proponent of deregulation in a generation" from the New York Times. Gramm’s deregulatory death blows to fiscal sanity were brutal and several, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (which repealed the post-depression Glass Steagall Act, designed to control speculation) and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (which made it illegal to regulate credit default swaps), each of which enabled the Wall Street massacre in their own special ways. Forever pushing to incur public risk for private profit, Gramm was well-rewarded during his congressional career, and his plum position destroying the once-respected Swiss bank UBS’s portfolio for the past few years was only part of the payoff.
Exhibit A: "Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them."
Sentence: Mental depression with a golden anvil.
8. David Addington
Charges: In a nation fat with lawyers, it takes something special to be the worst of them all. If a White House legal argument is evil, unconstitutional and makes no actual sense, it’s a safe bet Grand Moff Addington is behind it. An expert in spook law since his early-‘80s stint as counselor to the CIA, Addington first hooked up with Cheney during the Iran-Contra hearings, even then pushing the “Unitary Executive” theory of unfettered presidential power and attempting to shoehorn dictatorship into the constitution. Addington thinks the president is above the law in times of war, which is awful convenient if you declare an endless war on a global battlefield. It’s this flimsy pretext on which the White House has evaded accountability for torture, domestic spying, and secret detention, proving that the best legal tools in DC are a straight face and a huge pair of balls.
Exhibit A: “I frankly don't know what you mean by the Unitary Theory of Government.”
Sentence: Declared an enemy combatant for farting in oval office; waterboarded with a fire hose by John Yoo.
7. Dick Cheney
Charges: Still alive. The amount of medical resources devoted to keeping this black hole of decency operational could have cured cancer by now, but if they had, Cheney would make sure to keep it a secret. Since Watergate, Cheney’s been fighting to rehab Nixon’s image, and he has succeeded in a way, by showing us all just how much worse a presidency can be.
Exhibit A: “It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.”
Sentence: Eaten alive by baboons.
6. Hank Paulson
Charges: The latest practitioner of the real Bush Doctrine, which is indistinguishable from Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. This time, it was Paulson, not Powell, holding up a vial of toxic mortgage backed securities, but the similarly election-panicked congressional reaction’s been the same—a panicked passage of whatever crazy late-term legislation the White House wants, namely Paulson’s 3-page “Gimme the money and go away” bill, plus $150 billion in anonymous pork, in one last massive federal theft on the way out the White House door, costing more than the entire U.S. space program for its 50 years of existence, even in inflation-adjusted dollars. Paulson’s initial spending plan was the financial equivalent of blowing into a broken balloon, and his typically Bushian demands for unfettered power seemed appropriate for a guy who looks and sounds like the ghost-melted Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Exhibit A: “It’s a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”
Sentence: Crushed by falling brokers.
5. Alan Greenspan
Charges: The mortgage meltdown may seem complicated, but it started simple, with Al Greenspan pegging the Fed fund rate at 1%. This made Treasury Bonds a fairly lame investment, and led to investors looking for other seemingly safe securities to buy, which led to a flourishing demand for mortgage-backed securities, which led to banks increasingly lowering their standards for mortgage applications, eventually giving liar loans away to anyone willing to take them, which used to be called usury. This led to a decline in the real value of these MBA securities due to high probabilities of foreclosure, but somehow they were still AAA-rated by credit agencies displaying either hopeless incompetence or criminal collusion. Even a monkey wouldn’t need a slide rule to see what would come next. But Alan Greenspan, super-genius guru of the glorious realm of the self-regulating free market, is totally flummoxed. Refusing to accept any blame for years as the housing bubble, long-predicted by out-of-favor economic realists, bloated and burst, only recently has Greenspan accepted even marginal responsibility, admitting only that he was “partially” wrong, professing a state of “shocked disbelief” that lenders couldn’t regulate themselves, and thinking to himself, “This isn’t how it worked in Atlas Shrugged!”
Exhibit A: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”
Sentence: Recurring role as a senile great uncle on new C-grade sitcom “Krugman’s Krew.”
4. George W. Bush
Charges: It’s hard—believe us, we know—to keep coming up with new things to say about this brutally stupid narcissist, who may have ruined this country irrevocably and certainly has ruined a couple of others, mugging amiably all the way. If anything good comes from Bush’s reign of error, let it be the death of the notion that vitally important, life or death decisions that affect the entire world should be made with one’s “gut.” We used to think that incompetence was just a good cover story for this administration, an excuse that masked their deliberate criminality, but it turns out that Bush and his inner circle are both treasonous, corrupt warmongers and inept fools. One good thing about him, though, is that he has no real interest in politics, and probably won’t give a flying shoe what happens to the world when his term is up. As he once put it, ““History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” Here’s to George W. Bush being history.
Exhibit A: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."
Sentence: Detained in formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailer without charges or counsel, sodomized by Lynndie England, declared guilty by military tribunal, set adrift naked on a small ice floe in the Arctic.
3. Sean Hannity
Charges: This relentlessly repugnant McCarthyite tool really outdid himself this year, in an all-out quest to otherize Obama in any way he could. This paranoid pustule is able to find a liberal conspiracy lurking behind any mundane occurrence, even attributing Obama’s selection as Time’s Person of the Year, an event as predictable as sunrise, to a pay-to-play scheme. Hopelessly outmatched shill Alan Colmes is finally leaving his role as Hannity’s doormat; he will not be replaced.
Exhibit A: "I never questioned anyone's patriotism."
Sentence: Wrongfully convicted of murdering Vince Foster, based on evidence falsified by Jerome Corsi.
2. John McCain
Charges: McCain vowed to run a clean, respectful campaign, and then accused Obama of pushing sex ed for kindergartners, calling Palin a pig, hanging with terrorists, being a welfare-loving Marxist, being an arugula-loving elitist and pretty much everything but conspiring with the Borg—but he didn’t really mean it, and he didn’t use Reverend Wright, so we’re all supposed to think he’s swell. McCain lied so blatantly and constantly that even cable news bootlicks were compelled to fact-check him, to which he and his surrogates responded by insisting on the same lies. When pressed on the Nixonian onslaught of falsehood, McCain whined that he wouldn’t have had to be such a mendacious prick if Obama had only refrained from raising so much more money than him. McCain pretended to give a shit about America, and then he picked a vapid ambition-hound to succeed him. His response to the economic crisis might as well have been to punch himself in the face. In every way he could this year, McCain burned up all the credibility he had stored up from decades of shameless worship by the press, utilizing every tactic he ever decried, exuding a heady aroma of bullshit and Alzheimer’s, and displaying an unrequited obsession with Joe the Plumber, and he still wound up a failed Faust even the Devil didn’t want.
Exhibit A: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."
Sentence: Every time anybody says the word “surge,” McCain is shot in the leg.
1. Sarah Palin
Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn’t quite stupid enough. Palin’s unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a “great speaker” when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.
Exhibit A: Waving her embryo-loving credentials, in the form of her Down syndrome baby, at "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."
Sentence: Hand-to-hand combat with Vladimir Putin and a pack of wolves.
Written by Allan Uthman & Ian Murphy
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