A Bracing Dose of Nastiness

Maybe it’s wrong — okay, drop the “maybe” — but every year, I look forward to the “50 Most Loathsome People in America” list published by The Buffalo Beast. (Not to be confused with that other, newer Beast, the daily one.) As written by Allan Uthman and Ian Murphy, the 2008 list is as refreshingly mean-spirited as ever. Here it is; if it doesn’t load immediately, click “refresh” and you should get it working.

The format is simple: they list 50 truly awful public figures, mostly from the world of politics but with room for some celebrity gossip generators (Dina Lohan), former sports stars (Brett Favre) and Canadians (the FreeCreditreport.com guy), and always including “You” on the list for making the other 49 people possible. For each person, they provide a quote or event that sums up their loathsomeness, and then suggest an appropriate and poetic-justice-y punishment. And they have a knack for picking just the right phrase to describe someone, as when they call Keith Olbermann “a person who adopts mostly correct positions for mostly erroneous reasons.” The piece is worth reading for fans of unrestrained, but mostly deserved, comic nastiness, or for a reminder of some of the lowlights of the year gone by. Sample entry:

20. Joe the Plumber

Charges: The Che Guevara of bald, pissed off white men. In a lot of ways, Samuel Wurzelbacher really does represent the average American—basing economic opinions on unrealistic expectations of personal future success, blaming his failure to meet those expectations on minorities and old people, complaining about deadbeats getting his taxes when he isn’t actually paying his taxes, and advertising his own rudimentary historical and mathematical ignorance by warning of creeping socialism in a country whose highest income tax rate has dropped by half in thirty years. “Joe” indeed symbolizes the true American dream—to become undeservedly rich and famous through a dizzyingly improbable stroke of luck. As American folk heroes go, Wurzelbacher ranks somewhere between Hulk Hogan and Bernie Goetz.

Exhibit A: “Social Security is a joke…social security I’ve never believed in, don’t like it. I hate that it’s forced on me.”

Sentence: After blowing his fifteen minutes and all his money on coke and Thai hookers, an infirm, elderly Joe finds that social security actually is a joke, and is finally forced to snake toilets for a living.

I do think that Joe the Plumber would rate higher than # 20 if some of his 2009 antics were eligible for consideration. Here’s his most recent quote (via The Weekly Standard quoting Think Progress, in sort of a right-left convergence of embarrassment that this guy is still a public figure):

I think the military should decide what information to give the media and then the media can release it to the public.