Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she won’t run for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2014 was bittersweet. Sure, the country might be better off with one fewer politician crusading against women’s reproductive rights or accepting terrorist attacks as God’s punishment for America’s moral decline. But we’d be lying if we said Bachmann’s tumultuous tenure didn’t provide us with more than a little bit of entertainment. Lucky for us, the former queen of Crazytown leaves behind plenty of potential successors in waiting. In no particular order, here are the six other craziest Republicans in Congress.
Steve King (R-IA)
In the decade Iowa Republican Steve King has served in the House of Representatives, he’s given Bachmann a serious run for her money in the crazy category. There is almost too much evidence to list, but here’s a sample. Ahead of the 2008 presidential election, King predicted that members of al Qaeda would be “dancing in the middle of the streets” if Barack Obama were elected, “because of his middle name.” Even after then–Republican presidential candidate John McCain shamed the congressman, King defended his comment, telling the Associated Press, “[Obama will] certainly be viewed as a savior for [terrorists]. That’s why you will see them supporting him, encouraging him.” Meanwhile, King has proved himself no friend to immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. He once justified his proposal for an electrified fence across the U.S.-Mexico border by saying that “we do this with livestock all the time.” He’s referred to illegal immigration as a “slow-moving terrorist attack” and suggested that any senator who votes in favor of a comprehensive immigration-reform bill “wear a scarlet letter A for Amnesty.” He’s proposed legislation that would lower standards on animal treatment, defended legalized animal fighting, and argued that making it a federal crime to watch animal fights and not making it a federal crime to watch humans fight is “hypocrisy,” as “it is wrong to rate animals above human beings.” But nothing gets King going quite like being asked by an ATM whether he’d like to continue in English or Spanish, which should come as no shock, as he was the key sponsor of an English-only bill. Oh, and he’s totally a birther.
Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
Scummy is probably a better word for Scott DesJarlais than crazy—the Tennessee Republican is a major hypocrite three times over. First, he cheated on his wife. Second, the woman with whom this physician-turned-congressman cheated was one of his patients, a major no-no in the medical community. And third—the real cherry on this sundae—DesJarlais reportedly pressured both his wife and his mistress to have abortions, all the while pushing an anti-abortion-rights agenda in public. The real craziness, of course, is how DesJarlais got reelected to represent Tennessee’s Fourth District after this multilayered scandal came to light.
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Louie Gohmert is ripe for the crazy caucus. Just last week this Texas Republican told a female witness, during a congressional hearing on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, that she should have given birth to a baby that she already knew had no brain function and would spend the majority of its short life in the hospital undergoing surgeries. Despite claiming to have “great sympathy and empathy” for the witness, Gohmert suggested it would have been better to wait “and see if the child can survive before we decide to rip him apart.” Gohmert is as anti-abortion as he is anti-gay, especially when it comes to the Boy Scouts, suggesting recently that opening up the Boy Scouts to openly gay kids will inevitably lead to older gay kids raping the younger ones. Since 2010, Gohmert has propagated the “terror baby” theory that terrorists are impregnating women, sending them to the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens, and then sending them back to their homelands for terrorist training.
Trent Franks (R-AZ)
In the eyes of Arizona Republican Trent Franks, the crusade against abortion rights is as valiant and necessary as ending the Holocaust and abolishing slavery. Franks, who’s repeatedly introduced a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks within the District of Columbia, is now using the Kermit Gosnell trial to argue that the House should consider a nationwide version of the bill. Franks argued last week that the details of Gosnell’s deadly abortion practice are changing people’s minds about abortion in the same way people’s minds were eventually changed about slavery or the Holocaust.
Paul Broun (R-GA)
Rep. Paul Broun’s biggest claim to fame—according to him—is being the first member of Congress to call President Obama a “socialist.” It was back in 2008 that Broun said Obama’s call for a civilian national security force was “exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” the congressman noted in a letter to constituents about his upcoming campaign for Saxby Chambliss’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat. Broun’s letter also name-dropped the likes of Allen West, Ron Paul, and Jim DeMint. A strong desire to fight back against Obama’s “Marxist-Leninist policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth” is what made Broun want to become a senator in the first place, he wrote. It gets better: Broun was one of the House members who voted for Florida’s Allen West—who’d just been voted out of his seat—to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House at the beginning of this year. The aforementioned Louie Gohmert was another one.
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
One of the craziest things Sen. Ted Cruz has done in the few months since he was sworn in was attempting to bring unloaded assault rifles—illegal in D.C.—to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to demonstrate the safety and necessity of guns when they’re in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Cruz has made clear that he thinks pretty much any form of gun control is unconstitutional. But you know you’ve really made it onto the crazy short list when another crazy member of Congress wants nothing to do with you. Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York who has advocated for law enforcement to focus more attention on Muslim communities in an effort to curb potential terror threats, refused to attend a state dinner headlined by Cruz earlier this week in protest of the Texan’s effort to kill the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.