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Worst person in America contest?

Worst person in America contest?
© Greg Nash

“Countdown,” Keith Olbermann’s hour-long weeknight news and political commentary program that aired on MSNBC from 2003-2011, included a segment called “The Worst Person in the World.” Introduced by Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the feature began with bronze and silver level “worse” and “worser” nominees before naming the gold star winner.

I propose reviving the “worst person” contest.

In deference to the resurgence of “America First,” I think eligibility should be restricted to citizens of the United States. The musical background should be Beyonce’s rendition of “Proud To Be An American.” And I think the winners for March 2021 would be:

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Worse: During the 2020 presidential campaign, radio and television personality Mark LevinMark Reed LevinDemocrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Boehner on Bachmann: Right-wing media made 'people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars' Boehner says he called Hannity 'a nut' during tense 2015 phone call MORE blasted the media for ignoring Joe Biden’s alleged senility. Last week, Levin deemed President Biden’s address to the nation about vaccination distribution and the COVID-19 stimulus bill, “the most disgusting propagandistic speech” any politician has ever given. “I used to think Joe BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE was a doddering fool,” he told Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityPoll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 MORE, sarcastically. “He couldn’t tell his sister from his wife and he didn’t know the name of the secretary of defense and there you are mocking him for not having press conferences. Now I know why he doesn’t have press conferences. He’s busy inventing the vaccines and figuring out how to distribute them.”

Worser: Responding to Biden’s International Women’s Day remarks about making it easier and safer for women in the military, Fox TV commentator Tucker Carlson said, “While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military, as Joe Biden says, needs to become more feminine.” Mocking “maternity flight suits” and updates to Army and Air Force hair regulations, Carlson predicted that “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”

Some years ago, it is worth noting, on a radio talk show, “Bubba the Love Sponge,” Carlson described women as “extremely primitive.” “What gets women going,” Carlson said, is arguing with men. But “they just need to be quiet and kind of do what they’re told.” When host Todd Clem described 14-year-old girls experimenting sexually with each other at the school Carlson’s daughter attended, Tucker responded, “If it weren’t my daughter, I would love that scenario.”

Worst: Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold Johnson14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Senate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday Jon Stewart: Coronavirus 'more than likely caused by science' MORE (R-Wis.) brings stellar credentials to this award. In December 2020 Johnson declared, “there’s a blackout on good information [about COVID-19] in social media and media. So people are being denied information to make intelligent choices themselves.” As chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Johnson chose the lead witnesses to testify about those choices. Dr. Jane Orient endorsed hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by Donald Trump and dismissed by epidemiologists, and “helps run a group that believes government vaccine mandates violate human rights.” Cardiologist Ramin Oskoui declared it “settled science” that masks, social distancing, and quarantining do not work. (Settled science says they do.) Two witnesses promoted ivermectin, a drug used to fight lice and roundworms, to treat COVID-19 patients.

In early March, days before Coronavirus supplemental unemployment benefits ran out for millions of Americans, Johnson invoked an arcane rule of the Senate to order the clerk to read  every word of the 600 page COVID-19 relief bill. Although the outcome was not in doubt, he then offered a litany of amendments to further delay a final vote on the legislation.

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Last week, Sen. Johnson discussed the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol with Joe Pags on San Antonio, Texas, radio. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Johnson had maintained that the incident was not an armed insurrection and that “professional provocateurs” enflamed the mob. Although well over 300 people have been charged with federal crimes, and FBI Director Wray has affirmed that the rioters were Trump loyalists and white supremacist domestic terrorists, Johnson told Pags, “I know these were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned. Now had the tables been turned — Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors, I might have been a little concerned.”

These guys, it’s clear, are in an alternative reality/fake news race to the bottom.

Unfortunately, they have plenty of company.

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of "Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century."