It’s more ‘see you soon’ than ‘goodbye’ for former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who will take his far-right, tea party-loving persona over to the conservative Heritage Foundation. DeMint leaves a bleak legacy. Over his time in Congress, he’s gained notoriety for his anti-union, gay-bashing, anti-abortion, anti-obamacare, pro-austerity positions, among the most extreme in the Senate.
Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) thought he was moving up in the world when he abandoned his House seat to seek a spot in the Senate. Instead, Akin’s campaign made a crash landing after he told a radio host that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Most members of Congress leave politics with a few new laws to their credit if they are lucky, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), however, can take credit for reviving generations worth of terrible ideas and building a national movement behind his poor grasp of the Constitution and basic economics. Paul believes the Departments of Energy, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Labor are all unconstitutional — as are Social Security and Medicare, which he compared to “slavery.” He would return to the gold standard. And he thinks states can simply nullify federal laws they don’t feel like following. Yet it is a testament to the grip Paul has on America’s lunatic fringe that his supporters will whip themselves into a frenzy every time anyone dares to question his ill-considered views. Don’t believe us? Just wait and see what they write in comments on this very post.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) likes war, a lot. He was a leading proponent of the war in Iraq. He cheerleaded for war in Iran, and even pushed for more belligerence against Syria. Lieberman once defended waterboarding. He accused President Obama of “encourag[ing] Israel’s enemies.,” and he once called for Social Security cuts to pay for “war with Islamist extremists.” Lieberman loves Fox News, and he ended his tenure in the Senate will a call to raise the Medicare retirement age.
Now-former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) got himself kicked out of Congress by continuously bashing his opponent, a female war veteran and amputee who Walsh said was not a “true hero.” The tough-talking Congressman also once said that Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week,” and once screamed at his own constituents.
Former Rep. Cliff Stearn’s (R-FL) leaves the House with a reputation for stirring up unnecessary controversy. Stearns was among the birthers in Congress, publicly questioning the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate. He also advanced the Republican witch hunt over failed energy company Solyndra, a part of his anti-climate agenda.
Newly former Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is another birther departing the House today. On Schmidt’s highlight reel? She once called a Congressman and decorated marine a “coward,” insisted that China is drilling off the coast of Florida, and wept with joy over the (incorrect) news that Obamacare had been repealed.
An avowed tenther, former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) not only claimed — falsely — that federal student loans are unconstitutional, he compared helping students pay for their education to “[t]he Holocaust that occurred in Germany.” Bartlett also apparently studied at the Todd Akin School of Medicine, as he once minimized the need to ensure rape and incest survivors have access to abortion by claiming that “there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest.”
As an Army lieutenant colonel, former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) was relieved of his command, fined $5,000 and eventually allowed to retire in order to avoid court martial for allegedly abusing a prisoner in Iraq. Upon entering Congress, West emerged as one of the body’s top Islamophobes. He also compared food stamps and Social Security to slavery, opposed early voting as an “entitlement,” claimed 80 House Democrats were “members of the Communist Party,” and called Obama supporters a “threat to the gene pool.”
Former Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) spent most of the 1990s conducting increasingly bizarre investigations to prove that President Clinton was engaged in criminal activity. Burton did not simply buy the conspiracy theory that former Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster was murdered, he tried to reenact the crime in his own backyard by firing a pistol into a pumpkin. Additionally, Burton’s investigation into the supposed Whitewater controversy was based on research conducted by the founder of Citizens United. Yes, that Citizens United. When Burton wasn’t conducting forensic ballistics investigations using large orange gourds, he was terrified of contracting AIDS — so terrified that he reportedly refused to eat soup at restaurants. Because soup transmits AIDS.