Republican ratchetness is a serious ailment that affects dozens of politicians each year. It’s currently hitting Gov. Mike Pence (Indiana) hard, given his state’s controversial religious freedom law that basically means business owners can turn away LGBT customers because the Bible tells them so. It’s also taking a toll on embattled Rep. Aaron Schock (Illinois) who resigned from his House seat over an ethics scandal. Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently announced his presidential bid, which means his ratchetness is just beginning — he did call climate change activists “flat-Earthers” after all. However, this stuff is just child’s play compared to what other right-winged suits have done in the past. (We’re looking at you, Mark Sanford.)
From sex scandals to homophobic comments, these politicians represent the essence of Republican ratchetry: ignorance, stupidity, and just a bad moral compass. Isn’t it ironic these conservatives are engaging in some very un-conservative behavior? Tsk-tsk. Browse through our picks for the best of the worst red-state politicos, and let us know what you think in the comments below. (We guarantee a self-esteem boost, because — let’s be real — none of you are this awful.)
Mark Sanford (South Carolina)
In June 2009, Sanford — who was governor of South Carolina at the time and now serves as a U.S. representative for the state’s first congressional district — disappeared without a trace for a few days, only to be confronted by a reporter in Atlanta. Turns out, he hadn’t been hiking in the Appalachian Trail, as his staff reported: he paid a trip to Argentina to visit María Belén, his mistress. Sanford’s extramarital affair began in 2008, but his wife Jenny actually became aware of it five months before the media explosion. (Which makes sense, given the couple began a trial separation two weeks before shit hit the fan.) As a result, Sanford resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Surprisingly, he wasn’t impeached.
David Vitter (Louisiana)
The senior United States senator has a problem with same-sex marriage and is 100 percent here for abstinence-only education. However, he’s super casual when it comes to high-class call girls. In 2007, his phone number somehow popped up on a list belonging to Pamela Martin and Associates, an escort service, owned by the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey (dubbed the “D.C. Madam” by media). Vitter released a statement asking the public to forgive him for his “very serious sin,” which worked for all intensive purposes. He kept his seat in the Senate.
Mike Pence (Indiana)
On March 26, the Indiana governor signed the “religious objections” bill into law. According to CNN Money, the law “gives businesses owners who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons the right to turn away gay, lesbian and transgender people.” Many opponents, including Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, see the bill as a disguise to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s garnered such a strong negative reaction that governors in New York, Washington state, and Connecticut have banned state-funded travel to Indiana. However, Pence insists he wasn’t prepared for this reception and that the law isn’t what people think it is (WTF, honestly). “It would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said in a Tuesday press conference. “Was I expecting this kind of backlash?” has asked before answering himself, “Heavens no.” Cool, dude.
Sarah Palin (Alaska)
The 2008 vice presidential candidate and reader of all the newspapers has gotten her fair share of flack in the press. But in 2012, she made an offensive snide toward President Barack Obama that had people up in arms. In her criticism of the White House’s response to the Benghazi American consulate attacks, Palin wrote on her Facebook page, “We deserve answers to this. President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.” CNN swiftly pointed out the racial connotation of this phrase, noting, “‘Shucking and jiving’ have long been words used as a negative assessment of African Americans, along the lines of a ‘foot shufflin’ Negro.’”
Reactions were not pretty (and rightfully so). Check out this tweet from The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead:
— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) October 24, 2012
But Palin remained tone-deaf, as per usual. She responded to her haters by writing on Facebook (again), “For the record, there was nothing remotely racist in my use of the phrase ‘shuck and jive.’” Except yes there was.