If it were up to me, there'd be a law -- make it a constitutional amendment -- forbidding the press from covering those acts performed by politicians in private and not directly related to the governance of those who elected them. This would include receiving hummers from someone other than your spouse or groping Chippendale dancers or waltzing in diapers while being sploshed by a dominatrix. For years, in fact, the media showed the good sense to ignore this stuff, which is why you never heard about the fact that JFK was fucking everything in sight. Reporters believed there were more pressing matters. Civil rights, for instance, not getting nuked -- that sort of thing.
Today, thanks to the profit lust of our media outlets, the prevailing motive in the coverage of government affairs is to fluff the reader. Which is why we're reading more about the sex lives of our political leaders than their policy. Here at Nerve, we can't help feeling disenfranchised. If everyone's in the business of smut, where does that leave us? Thankfully, we can avail ourselves of the same gimmick CNN dusts off every time they don't know what else to do: a Top 10 list. As you peruse the ensuing scandal sheet, please try to imagine a rolling TV banner reading Peen, Poon & Politix! and trimmed in patriotic colors.
10. If You Can't Beat Them, Lick a Hooker
Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia is a terrific example of just how much Republicans respect the institution of marriage. Barr doesn't just respect marriage. He defends marriage. That's why he introduced the Defense of Marriage Act: to protect marriage from homosexuals who seek to destroy it by, um, getting married. "The flames of hedonism," he warned, "the flames of narcissism, the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundation of our society, the family unit." Trust Barr on the licking thing. He's an expert. He was photographed licking whipped cream off strippers at his inaugural party. His current wife was no doubt upset. But probably not as upset as his first two wives, to whom he failed to pay child support. (To his credit, Barr did pay for his second wife's abortion, though she still suspects he was cheating on her.)
9. Baby, You Make Me So Harding
Warren G. Harding (a.k.a. Warren G Unit) is the only president whose affairs led to the extortion of a major political party. To wit: his fifteen-year romance with Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of a friend, who the Republican National Committee reportedly paid on a monthly basis not to erupt, bimbo-style. Once in office, Harding allegedly took up with one Nan Britton, thirty years his junior. According to Britton, Harding introduced her to a small closet in the White House, where they exchanged kisses and made sweet presidential love. Britton claimed to have had an illegitimate child by Harding as well. In 1923, Harding died unexpectedly from ptomaine poisoning. Rumors ran rampant that his wife, Florence, had poisoned him.
8. Jungle Fever Down in Dixie
It was always good to know where Strom Thurmond stood on race relations. The South Carolina Republican, who died in 2003 at the age of 100, was a strict segregationist from head to toe, with the exception of his penis. His penis, it turns out, was more enlightened. When Thurmond was twenty-two, he impregnated Carrie Butler, his family's African-American maid. She was either fifteen or sixteen at the time. It remains unclear whether their liaison was consensual, but let's assume it was, because, hey, Thurmond seems like a good guy. How good? Well, he ran for President as a segregationist candidate in 1948, vociferously opposed civil-rights legislation, and remained an avowed racist throughout his forty-seven years in the Senate.
7. Spitzing the Magic Pussy
We all know the story now, chapter and verse. New York's crusading Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, gets caught in a big-ticket prostitution sting, in part owing to laws he helped push through as attorney general. Numerous tabloid money shots ensue. According to a pimp in the prostitution ring -- and really, if you can't believe a pimp, who can you believe? -- the woman Spitzer hired out had a "magic pussy." Abracadabra! You're out of office, dude!
6. Long Dong Justice
It's not just the executive and legislative branches that get their freak on. Don't count out those horny judicial cats. Especially Clarence Thomas. As a reminder, Thomas is the only African-American Supreme Court Justice more conservative than the Ku Klux Klan. He was also, according to a law professor named Anita Hill, the kind of guy who liked to make unwanted advances toward his hot subordinates by talking up his endowment. These accusations of sexual harassment -- revealed in his 1991 confirmation hearings -- were never proven. After all, what possible motive would Thomas have to lie? Clearly, Hill was clearly a fame-hungry opportunist gunning for a slot on reality TV.
5. Out of the Closet and into the Stall
Wouldn't it be weird if a Republican Senator from a conservative state pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, after having been arrested for lewd conduct, i.e. allegedly propositioning an undercover officer in an airport bathroom? And wouldn't it be even weirder if he resigned his Senate seat, then unresigned? And if numerous men kept saying they'd had sex with him? Wouldn't that be weird?
4. The Jesus and Meth Chain
As President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard used to have weekly teleconferences with the man he helped elect in 2004, George W. Bush. The two discussed areas of mutual interest, such as the wonderfulness of Jesus and how to char-grill sodomites properly. These tete-a-tetes ended in 2006, when the lizardy pastor confessed to "sexual immorality." What he actually meant was, "going on crystal meth binges and cornholing my male prostitute/supplier." At last count, Haggard had received counseling and was no longer gay.
3. All Men Are Created Horny
Did Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, two-term president (1801-1809), purchaser of Louisiana and other territories, and the guy on the nickel, actually live with one of his female slaves and father her children? I have no idea, but I'll bet you Strom Thurmond knows. There is no question that Sally Hemings was one of his slaves, and that she came to Paris to care for Jefferson's nine-year-old daughter, Isabel. She appears to have spent the rest of her years at Monticello, Jefferson's blingy Virginia crib. She also had six kids. Genetic testing and genealogical study have established a clear link between Jefferson and the Hemings brood. But not enough to qualify Jefferson for a special posthumous presidential edition of The Jerry Springer Show. Where is Matt Drudge when you really need him?
2. "Get a Ruler and Measure It For Me"
Those are the exact words of an instant message sent by Mark Foley (R-Florida) to a sixteen-year-old male congressional page. Foley also sent these messages:
how my favorite young stud doing
good so your getting horny
did you spank it this weekend yourself
well I have a totally stiff wood now
we may need to drink at my house so we dont get busted Do I make you a little horny?
I know what you're thinking: the guy needs to work on his IM grammar chops. But here's something else kind of shady about Foley: As chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, he introduced legislation targeting online sexual predators. As he explained to an NPR interviewer in 2002, "Where I have to draw the line is using children for the excitement of those more mature people who should know the difference and know better." Right. The touching thing about the Foley scandal wasn't just that he was a skeeve, but that the entire House Leadership knew he was a skeeve and covered his ass for more than a year. That, my friends, is party unity.
1. Oral in the Oval
It's Clinton and Lewinsky at the top of the ticket! Could there really be any doubt? After all, this is the scandal that once and for all rid the press corps of any inconvenient impulse to, for instance, exercise a conscience. To review the basics: on nine occasions Bill Clinton engaged in various forms of sexual behavior -- up to but not including genital penetration -- with Monica Lewinsky, then a 22-year-old intern, in and around the Oval Office. The exact details were eventually compiled by attorney/amateur pornographer Kenneth Starr, who served as Special Independent Counsel in Charge of Finding Some Kind of Shit on the Clintons for many many years. The Republican dominated House of Representatives -- led by confessed adulterers Henry Hyde and Bob Livingston -- impeached Clinton in 1998. He was acquitted of perjury and obstruction of justice after a twenty-one-day Senate trial. He emerged from the proceedings more popular with the American people than he had been before them. Why? Because the American people are more mature than the press that panders to them. In the end, we'd prefer cold, hard leadership to hot sex. Imagine that.