Wingnuts Index List

Fresh off his battle with the House cafeteria over an olive pit, the quixotic Ohio congressman is blitzing the media with his latest passion—whether President Obama's war on Libya is an impeachable offense.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

Jim Mone / AP Photo

Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Wingnut Rating: 85

Bachmann has become a symbol of all things Wingnutty in American politics. It's all the more impressive that she's been able to do it from a congressional seat representing a conservative corner of Minnesota. But thanks to a steady stream of incitement and idiocy since calling candidate Obama "anti-American" in 2008 and requesting an investigation of her congressional colleagues' patriotism, Bachmann rarely disappoints those who expect the worst from her. She echoes conspiracy theories and talks of tyranny, peddling Obama Derangement Syndrome and giving comfort to Hatriot claims from her congressional perch. Her greatest hits would fill a full page— here's a video compilation. But a backlash may be brewing despite her $5 million in donations. Here's her hometown newspaper endorsing her opponent, Terryl Clark, citing "[Bachmann's] rash, ridiculous, unsubstantiated, misleading and fear-mongering statements about national issues. We also noted—and this is important—her lack of any realistic solutions… Bachmann has only refined an age-old political recipe: mix equal parts of fear and blame that raise your personal profile yet yield only sound bites, not solutions."

David Zalubowski / AP Photo

Steve King (R-IA)

Wingnut Rating: 75

Rep. King deserves more recognition for his regular trips to Crazytown. He first came to many Americans' attention in the 2008 election, when he proclaimed that if Obama were "elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this war on terror." He also raised eyebrows as the only member of Congress not to vote for a resolution acknowledging the use of slave labor in the construction of the U.S. Capitol building. At CPAC, King gave conservatives an enemies list that lumped liberals in with genocidal dictators like Stalin and Mao. And earlier this year, he announced: "The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race—on the side that favors the black person." His newest crusade is calling for judges removal from the bench for sins of judgment like extending marriage equality in Iowa.

Bill Clark, Roll Call via Getty Images

Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Wingnut Rating: 65

Gohmert is a co-sponsor of the Birther bill and an early adopter of the "kill Granny" arguments against health-care reform, appearing on 9/11 "truther" Alex Jones' radio show to insist that "this socialist health going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They'll put them on lists and force them to die early." He also argued against that hate-crimes bill on the House floor: "If you're oriented toward animals, bestiality, then that's not something that could be held against you…which means that you'd have to strike any laws against bestiality. If you're oriented toward corpses, toward children." More recently, he "joked" that the only reason to have the 9/11 terror trial in New York City was if Democrats were "trying to create a new jobs bill by allowing terrorism back in New York." And not to miss out on the opportunity to demagogue the immigration debate, Gohmert raised the specter of Manchurian Candidate-style terrorists brought in as anchor babies, saying, "It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists."

Evan Vucci AP Photo

Alan Grayson (D-FL)

Wingnut Rating: 60

Grayson is the mirror image of right-Wingnut tactics on the left. He is a proud practitioner of the politics of incitement, confusing his hyper-partisanship with populist courage. His newest insults include a pair of campaign ads that can compete for the lowest of the 2010 cycle—calling his opponent Daniel Webster "Taliban Dan" and saying that Webster "doesn't love this country." This is part of the chosen script for the man who dubs himself "the congressman with guts" and whom opponents call "my congressman is nuts.'" He first came to infamy in a speech to Congress in which he said, "The Republican health-care plan is this: ‘Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly." Days later, he attacked Republicans as "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who think they can dictate policy to America by being stubborn." That was mild compared to what came next: calling Republicans "the enemy of America" and "certainly the enemy of peace." No doubt Hot Air got special pleasure calling him out for his considerable hypocrisy in this campaign: "National embarrassment upset that GOP is calling him national embarrassment."

Gregory Smith / AP Photo

Paul Broun (R-GA)

Wingnut Rating: 60

Broun's place in Wingnut history is secure. He was the first to compare President Obama to Hitler—and a Marxist—within one week of the election. Referring to a proposal to create a civilian reserve corps, initially proposed by the Bush administration and picked up by Obama during the campaign, Broun told the AP: "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist." "We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun added. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany." His office refused to issue an apology. When subsequently asked by radio show host Pete Dominick whether Obama is Christian or a U.S. citizen, Broun said he didn't know. Further adventures of Broun's ODS and fear-mongering are well captured in Will Bunch's The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, Hi-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.

Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

Trent Franks (R-AZ)

Wingnut Rating: 55

"An enemy of humanity" who has "no place in any station of government" is how Franks described President Obama at the How to Take Back America conference last year. The passionate anti-abortion advocate managed to wade even deeper into moral equivalence misdirection when he compared abortion to slavery, saying: "Today, half of all black children are aborted...Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery." Plus, he's a co-sponsor of the Birther bill. Franks' chronic foot-in-mouth disease prompted Phoenix blogger Stephen Lemons to write, "Considering his record for wacky statements, Franks should walk round with a sign that says ‘I'm sorry' round his neck. Would save us all a bunch of time."

Harry Hamburg / AP Photo

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

Wingnut Rating: 50

Whether pushing for George W. Bush's impeachment, or telling a Code Pink rally "our plan is to tell the truth about 9/11," or talking about seeing UFOs in a presidential debate, Dennis Kucinich rarely disappoints in confirming the stereotypes of the far left. The one-time boy mayor of Cleveland has a enjoyed a long, strange trip of a political life: avoiding Mafia-assassination attempts, living on a ranch with Shirley MacLaine, and declaring just $38 in income one year in the 1980s. His commitment to pacifism is admirable in the eyes of some, but his eagerness to proclaim "solidarity" with Hugo Chavez, his votes against a resolution commemorating 9/11, and refusal to officially condemn Ahmadinejad project a dangerous naiveté and a blame-America-first vision of foreign policy. Kucinich may be harmless—a lonely voice for the far left in Congress—but for anyone who wants to see what a real social democrat agenda looks like can reference his campaign promises and contrast that with Obama's agenda. Final endorsement: When I interviewed members of the Communist Party for Wingnuts and asked them who they supported for president, the answer was Kucinich.

Kesha Rogers (D-TX)

Wingnut Rating: 50

The first challenger on our Wingnut Index is a Larouche-ite running to represent Tom DeLay's old district in Sugarland, Texas. The official Democratic nominee for Congress, Kesha Rogers is running on a platform summed up by the sign she holds up at a busy intersection: "Save NASA. Impeach Obama." She's also big on colonizing Mars. And she's "leading a war against the British Empire." Think a slightly more presentable Alvin Greene with a really bad case of ODS. One recent press release read: "The numerous public displays of President Obama's ongoing psychological meltdown mean that now is the time for Vice President Joseph Biden, and a quorum of top advisers within the Executive Branch, to pull rank, and use Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to declare that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office", and shall be immediately relieved of that responsibility." Whew, tough crowd down there in Texas.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)

Wingnut Rating: 50

"Baby Killer!"—those were the words Neugebauer shouted at Rep. Bart Stupak when he voted for health-care reform, making him a brief anti-celebrity in congressional politics. But the burly Neugebauer was also one of the first co-sponsors of H.R. 1503, the so-called Birther bill. When asked point-black whether Obama "is a U.S. citizen," Neugebauer gave a Texas two-step reply: "I don't know. I've never seen him produce documents that would say one way or another"—but he later acknowledged that he could not produce his own birth certificate. He also got nailed by PolitiFact for repeating this talking point: "Ninety-four percent of small businesses will face higher taxes under the Democrats' plan"—and received a "pants-on-fire" rating in return.

Tom Williams, Roll Call via Getty Images

Virginia Foxx (R-NC)

Wingnut Rating: 50

Grandma's gone a bit off her rocker—that's what an outtake of Foxx's greatest hits on the House floor communicate. Here's she is stoking some old fashioned fear about health-care reform: "Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened…I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room—this very room—and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health-care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country." And just to show the full 360, here she is claiming that the murder of Matthew Shepard was a hoax: "We know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This—the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

Tony Dejak / AP Photo

Jim Traficant (I-OH)

Wingnut Rating: 50

The wiggy former congressman known for ending his speeches on the House floor with the Star Trek tribute "Beam me up, Scotty!" is trying to get his old job back in a long-shot populist independent bid. The rodeo-clown approach to Congress hides a savvy if demonstrably corrupt political operator. The one-time sheriff of Mahoning County first made a name for himself during the recession of the late '70s and early '80s, when he refused to foreclose on a few family homes. In 1983, he avoided imprisonment on trial for accepting bribes, representing himself in court and arguing that he accepted the bribes only as part of an undercover investigation into corruption. He subsequently ran as a Democrat for Congress, where he served for nearly 20 years. In 2002, he was convicted of 10 felony counts including bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. In prison, he claimed that he had been targeted by the Justice Department for having damning information about "WACO, Ruby Ridge, Pan Am Flight 103, Jimmy Hoffa, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy." Among his prison pen pals was David Duke.

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Wingnut Rating: 50

It's not just the congressional ethics trial that awaits her after the election, alleging improper intervention to save a small bank her husband was heavily invested in and whose executives were campaign contributors. It's the Bush Derangement Syndrome she embraced during last administration and largely got a pass on. She co-sponsored legislation to impeach Dick Cheney and pulled a proto-Joe Wilson: "He said he is the decider, but you know what he is not the decider, he is the liar!" Back in the '80s she was a vocal proponent of the theory that the U.S. government was behind the crack epidemic. In more recent years, she's been repeatedly listed by CREW as among the most corrupt members of Congress.

Tom Strattman / AP Photo

Dan Burton (R-IN)

Wingnut Rating: 45

Other than being a co-sponsor of the Birther bill, Dan Burton's been comparatively quiet in the Obama years—if you recall his epic case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome in the 1990s. He was an enthusiastic advocate of every conspiracy theory trafficked at that time, from Vincent Foster to Whitewater, with a lot to say about sexual morality—until it was discovered that he'd fathered a child out of wedlock. Those hypocrisy points, combined with ethical inquiries and lifetime achievement points, plus a more recent anti-vaccine initiative—help Dan Burton rise on the Wingnut Index.

/House Television / AP Photo

Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Wingnut Rating: 40

" George Bush is our Bull Connor"—Bush Derangement Syndrome and playing the race card? Check. Add an epic dose of hypocrisy—the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee faces a (delayed) congressional ethics trial on a range of substantial offenses, from serially under-reporting taxes, to having four rent-controlled apartments, to soliciting corporate donations to a public-affairs school that bears his name—and you get a place on the Wingnut Index. Historic irony is that Charlie Rangel first entered Congress 40 years ago, defeating the pioneering Adam Clayton Powell when the latter was embroiled in ethics charges and questions of whether he'd been in office too long.

Nick Wass / AP Photo

Glen Urquhart (R-DE)

Wingnut Rating: 40

He's running on the same ticket as Christine O'Donnell to replace Mike Castle as Delaware's at-large congressional delegate, but Glen Urquhart would likely have flown safely under the Wingnut radar if it weren't for one pungent comment he made that brought him to the attention of the Election Oracle: "Do you know, where does this phrase separation of church and state come from? Does anybody know?...Actually, that's exactly, it was not in Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. He was reassuring that the federal government wouldn't trample on their religion. The exact phrase ‘separation of church and state' came out of Adolf Hitler's mouth, that's where it comes from. Next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of church and state ask them why they're Nazis." Wow—calling liberals Nazis and questioning the separation of church and state all in one statement? That checks enough boxes to propel this largely unknown candidate up the ranks of the Wingnut Index.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Wingnut Rating: 35

He was a little-known but broadly popular South Carolina congressman before he screamed "You lie!" at the president of the United States during a speech to a Joint Session of Congress. Under withering criticism from party leaders like John McCain, Wilson soon apologized, but then awakened to the new rules of politics: the more outrageous the statement, the more the base will rally. Sure, Wilson was formally rebuked by his colleagues, but he quickly became a Tea Party hero, and signs at the 9/12 March on Washington proclaimed "Joe Wilson Told the Truth" and imagined a Palin/Wilson ticket in 2012. Steve King came to his defense, arguing that "The president threw the first punch," calling Wilson "an officer and a gentleman and a patriot," and saying "God bless him…He said what we were thinking." Wilson was no stranger to controversy: The one-time aide to Sen. Strom Thurmond denounced an African-American woman's claim that she was Thurmond's illegitimate daughter as a "smear" designed to ruin his reputation, only to have the Thurmond family later acknowledge the truth.

/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Ron Paul (R-TX)

Wingnut Rating: 35

Ron Paul is the single most intellectually influential person on the Wingnut Index, and perhaps in all of Congress. His pro-life libertarian philosophy been advanced by Tea Party advocates, while his more esoteric dislikes, such as his hatred of Woodrow Wilson, have been picked up by Glenn Beck. He defended the right of the Muslim cultural center to be built in Lower Manhattan on constitutional grounds, disappointing some supporters. But there is a dark side to Paul's appeals—from his opposition to 1960s civil rights legislation to a slew of ugly newsletters that went out under his name (now believed to have been penned by Lew Rockwell). U.S. out of U.N. efforts and End the Fed policy proposals all get credibility from Paul's pen. He is a hero to many 9/11 Truthers and a leader of neo-isolationists.

Terry Ashe / AP Photo

Pete Stark (D-CA)

Wingnut Rating: 35

This crusty California congressman has been generating controversy for decades. In 1990, he called Bush administration HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan, an African-American, "a disgrace to his race." He's been known to attack his congressional colleagues with marked incivility—calling Rep. Nancy Johnson a "whore for the insurance industry," dubbing Rep. Stephen Solarz, who co-sponsored the Gulf War resolution, "Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces," and referring to J.C. Watts as "the current Republican conference chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock." More recently, he described Blue Dog Democrats as being "brain dead." The San Francisco Chronicle captured the frustration, editorializing: "Only a politician who assumes he has a job for life could behave so badly on a semi-regular basis by spewing personalized invective that might get him punched in certain East Bay taverns. Would-be challengers sometimes sense a whiff of opportunity, but the reality of taking on a 16-term Democrat in solidly liberal terrain is nothing short of daunting. Surely there must be someone along the shoreline between Alameda and Fremont who could represent the good citizens of the district with class and dignity. It's not the case now."

Jim Russell (R-NY)

Wingnut Rating: 30

Talk about confirming negative stereotypes: This two-time New York congressional nominee was renounced by his own party in the year that Carl Paladino is its gubernatorial candidate. He wrote an extended essay in 2001 decrying racial integration, uncovered by Politico's Maggie Haberman—an argument that led to the essay's approving linkage by none other than David Duke. Among the choice cuts: "While liberals and universalists constantly yammer about ‘bringing us all together,' and how ‘diversity our strength,' it may be suggested that the biological function of human language and culture is just the opposite, that is, to keep discrete groups apart...There is now afoot a conscious effort to de-Europeanize and to re-Judaize Christianity, through scriptural revision, internal treachery, and external pressure. One possible strategy to counter these efforts is to encourage a re-Europeanization of Christianity into a European folk religion. Such a strategy might be bolstered by the argument that Euro-Christians should only accept the folk-affirming form of Christianity accepted by our ancestors and not accept the specious "bait and switch" arguments of liberal Christians who try to indoctrinate us with universalist propaganda."

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

Linda Sanchez (D-CA)

Wingnut Rating: 30

One of the most liberal and labor-friendly members of congress, Linda Sanchez scores a perfect rating from AFSCME and opposed the suspension of Davis Bacon Act after Hurricane Katrina, which had effectively lowered the cost of rebuilding efforts. She also came under criticism for controversial comments made this year about the Arizona illegal immigrant law. “The Arizona laws are not a mistake," she said. "They're not accidental or one person's crazy law. There's a concerted effort behind promoting these kinds of laws on a state-by-state basis by people who have ties to white supremacy groups.” Her more centrist sister, Loretta, is locked in a tough re-election fight over in Orange County against Republican state assemblyman Van Tran.

Mark Humphrey / AP Photo

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Wingnut Rating: 30

A co-sponsor of the Birther bill, Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn is an understudy for Michele Bachmann as Congressional Belle of the Tea Party. A strong social conservative, she is a member of the "C Street Family" and defended the use of the term "death panels" to describe health-care reform while also refusing to renounce descriptions of President Obama as "a socialist." She gets hypocrisy points for requesting more than $3 million in earmarks and was named one of CREW's most corrupt members of Congress in 2008. This year, she came under criticism for arguing in favor of PAYGO enforcement in, shall we say, callous terms: "We're not going to cry ‘emergency' every time we have a Katrina, every time we have a tsunami."

Harry Hamburg / AP Photo

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Wingnut Rating: 30

The longtime Houston representative explicitly compared Tea Party protesters to the KKK, and her first foreign trip after Democrats took the majority in 2007 was to visit Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. During a July 15 speech on the House floor, Lee reached for a poor historical metaphor for Afghanistan and somehow made it worse: "Today we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working," she said. "We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human-rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side." Well, no, Vietnam has been unified since after the war, and it's reasonable to expect that a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would know better. Plus, she confirms the big spending stereotypes of the big-city liberal: She has a 3 percent rating—out of 100—from Citizens Against Government Waste.

Rich Iott (R-OH)

Wingnut Rating: 30

A good rule of thumb in politics is to avoid comparing your political opponents to Nazis—that's why there is a category in the Wingnut Index for just such insults. But what happens when a congressional candidate is found to have a hobby of dressing up like a Nazi? You know, for the kids. As an educational adventure. Sort of. Rich Iott's been having a lot of trouble explaining this one, and with good reason.

Alan Diaz / AP Photo

Allen West (R-FL)

Wingnut Rating: 30

This decorated military officer is a hero on the Tea Party circuit. He's a powerful speaker and could be a charismatic leader in Congress. But Allen West is a Birther: "You know, I would ask him one simple question. What passport did you use to go to Pakistan in 1981? That tells me everything about him." He's quick with the Hitler reference: "In 1930, there was a gentleman in Germany who took away private gun ownership. And you know what happened to that population. You must be well-informed and well-armed because this government that we have right now is a tyrannical government." When he sees a "coexist" bumper sticker, he thinks "that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are." And while he thinks Democrats are into "creating more slaves so they can have control over them," his harshest comments are reserved for Islam: "an enemy that only wants one thing and that is, a return of the Holocaust."

Bill Posey (R-FL)

Wingnut Rating: 30

We round out the top 25 with the original sponsor of the Birther bill—perhaps the most objective measure of Wing-nuttery the 111th Congress has given us. He's also received a perfect rating from the Family Research Council. On what he calls Obama's "eligibility" issue, Posey has said: "The only people that I know who are afraid to take drug tests are the people who use drugs." He's also acknowledged talking to "high-ranking members of our Judiciary Committee" about Obama "being removed from office"—though he has apparently given up practical hope of those efforts' success.