Yes, this is late. Unfortunately a lot of stuff has come up between December and now that set this end-of-the-year piece back. Still, I want to commemorate 2020 — which was marked by fires, pestilence, murder hornets, quarantines, and an election that had us pulling out our hair for fucking months. So in honor of the worst year on record, I present the people who helped make it so terrible in the first place.
Special thanks to Rob Israel who came up with the badass illustrations. Visit his store here.
40. Mike Lindell
Evangelical huckster Mike Lindell might be best known as the pillow salesman who enjoys materializing into the mirrors of hapless insomniacs, but he’s also a diehard Trump supporter who spent hundreds of thousands to fuel the president’s bogus election challenges. Apparently undeterred by his company’s $1 million settlement for deceptive marketing – the MyPillow was once advertised as a treatment for PTSD, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis – Lindell ran with the false claim that oleandrin could cure COVID-19, perhaps because he has a financial stake in a company that just happens to produce it.
Incriminating Statement: “If you pull down Georgia, Pennsylvania and crooked Nevada, now nobody has 270 [electoral] votes, and on December 14 it goes to the [Electoral College] vote and Donald Trump wins the election!”
39. Chris Taylor Brown
Frontman for Trapt, the band that hasn’t been relevant since they blighted the airwaves with their shitty, nü-metal dreck when you were in middle school. Hates democracy. Loves the Proud Boys, defending statutory rape, and making Wes Scantlin look rational by comparison. Anyone else care what this chud thinks? No? Moving on.
38. Everyone Who Hoarded Toilet Paper
I can understand panic-buying food during a pandemic, even hand sanitizer. But toilet paper? Is stockpiling that really going to help you? No. No it won’t. But you did it anyway and fucked up the supply chain. Way to go.
37. Tulsi Gabbard
The type of Democrat the right drools over: one who voted to ban same-sex marriage in Hawaii, denied that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for deploying chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, pals around with Hindu nationalists, and lends credence to their delusional claims of Big Tech censorship and voter fraud. Spent her final days in office introducing anti-choice and transphobic legislation, likely in the hopes that she can spend her post-congressional career as a Fox News contributor. Narrowly edges out Marianne Williamson for a spot on this list because I’m 99% certain she was a drug-induced hallucination.
36. Chris Matthews
The Hardball host gave his audience a career-ending meltdown for the ages when he went on a McCarthyite rant that likened a Bernie Sanders victory to “the reds” staging mass executions in Central Park. A known sexual harasser, Matthews was thankfully forced into retirement over his obscene treatment of guests and colleagues. Though his departure from MSNBC ultimately had the deleterious effect of subjecting us all to more Joy Reid.
35. Pete Buttigieg
A bloodless technocrat who acts like he was rolled off a McKinsey Institute assembly line and programmed to only spout empty platitudes and hawk uninspiring policies. You know, like “Medicare for All Who Want It.” Buttigieg was predictably rewarded for his decision to drop out in order to kneecap the more progressive Sanders campaign with an administration post he’s woefully unqualified for. Plus he’s so inauthentic he comes across like Clint Webb.
Incriminating Statement: Nothing of substance really. Let’s just substitute Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.”
34. Joe Rogan
It’s a scathing indictment of our society that the former host of Fear Factor was turned into a quasi-political kingmaker by virtue of having a shitty podcast. With his insistence on spreading conspiracy theories about “left-wing people” starting wildfires or his whining about how he can’t say “tr***y,” Rogan’s Alex Jones-on-anabolic steroids-and-DMT routine is tiresome. And yet his show is the most popular on Spotify and we wasted an entire news cycle on his endorsement of Bernie Sanders.
33. The Ghost of Herman Cain
Won’t stop tweeting from beyond the grave. The pizza mogul continues to haunt humanity with comically bad takes about COVID-19. Attending Trump’s mask-free super-spreader rally in Tulsa? Dumb idea. Then again, so was his presidential run.
32. Roman Balmakov
The greasy, bespectacled dweeb who kept preempting my YouTube videos to hawk newspapers on behalf of a far-right, apocalyptic Chinese cult. Always puts a bizarre overemphasis on the word “the,” as in “The Epoch Times.” Labors under the false impression that the more jump cuts a commercial has the more effective it will be.
Incriminating Statement: “And take a look at this!”
31. Elon Musk
The world’s most convincing argument in favor of wealth confiscation, Elon Musk clearly believes workers are disposable. In a March email to his SpaceX employees, Musk wrote that the “risk of death from C19 is vastly less than the risk of death from driving your car home.” Days later he tweeted that there would be “close to zero new cases in US too by end of April,” but in May — when the death toll was approaching 100,000 — he flouted public health orders by reopening Tesla’s factory and warning employees that if they refused to work it might jeopardize their unemployment benefits.
30. J.K. Rowling
Aside from George Lucas, Rowling has done more than anyone to demonstrate a burning contempt for her own fanbase. Sure, she’s retconned characters. And yes, she defended the casting of wife beater Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts film series. But it was her weird, TERFy meltdown – which began on Twitter and spilled over into her new crime novel about a “transvestite serial killer” – that destroyed her last shreds of good will faster than you can say “Crucio!”
Incriminating Statement: “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”
29. Jerry Falwell Jr.
Resigned as president of one of the largest Christian universities when it was revealed that biblically ordained marriages, to the Falwell clan, are defined as those between a man, a woman, and their hunky pool boy. Look, I’m not one to kink shame, but when you’re both the son of the most famous gay-bashing evangelical dickweed in recent history, and the president of Liberty U. – whose honor code encourages sexual repression and homophobia – don’t be surprised if everyone dunks on you for being a literal cuckold.
Incriminating Fashion Statement: Ku Klux Klan face masks!
28. Jordan Goudreau
In a year marked by wildfires, a pandemic, and an election with record-setting turnout, it’s easy to forget that doofus who tried invading Venezuela. This wannabe Rambo founded Silvercorp USA in 2018 with the goal of putting military vets in public schools to stop mass shootings, but pivoted to the business of regime change because sure, why not? With the help of some fellow ex-Green Berets and Venezuelan troops, Goudreau launched Operation Gideon, an attempt to oust Nicolás Maduro which went so horribly awry that the State Department was forced to deny involvement.
27. Kenneth Copeland
Kenneth Copeland represents the most dangerous breed of grifter in America: one who’s adept at quoting the Bible. Like many televangelists, Copeland preaches the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which basically means 1) God wants you to be rich, and 2) the way to get rich is by investing “seed” money in the form of a donation to said televangelists, which 3) will then be repaid several times over. Copeland’s net worth is around $300 million. He sat on Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. He told congregants to blow COVID-19 away. The fact that he hasn’t been struck by lightning is proof that either God doesn’t exist or isn’t paying attention.
Incriminating Statement: “Any Christian who stays at home and doesn’t vote is guilty of murder. Every person who votes for someone knowing that they push for abortion and to kill a baby anytime they want to kill it, they’re just as guilty as the doctor that performed the abortion.” Or whatever the fuck this is.
26. Melania Trump
Most useless First Lady ever. It’s been four years and I have no idea what the flying fuck “Be Best” was about. Leaked conversations between Melania Trump and her ex-BFF should’ve finally disabused people of the idea that she isn’t an absolute monster. At least she’s right about Christmas decorations though.
25. Joe Biden
Got over 80 million voters to say “Fuck it, just make it stop” despite a lengthy Congressional record that I’ll charitably describe as spotty. Biden harangued Anita Hill, championed the 1994 crime bill, voted for the Iraq War, bragged about working with segregationists, and probably would’ve lost had he not been running against the human equivalent of syphilis. He won’t commit to expanding the Supreme Court, dismissed Medicare for All, and thinks the solution to police brutality is to have cops shoot suspects in the leg. But he’s not actively trying to murder us so that’s a win, right?
Incriminating Statement: “I think I can work with Republican leadership in the House and the Senate. I think we can get things done.”
24. Andy Ngo
Not really a journalist. Definitely a threat to our community. Whether he’s churning out rage bait at The Post Millennial or hijacking congressional hearings on white nationalism, this jackboot-licking propagandist aims to terrify conservatives and milquetoast liberals into believing that black-clad anarchists are lurking around every corner, and that the number one threat to national security is actually antifascism. Somehow turned one milkshake to the face into a lifetime of grifting and fearmongering.
Incriminating Statement: *in an exaggerated British accent* “Hi, I’m Andy Ngo.”
23. Lindsey Graham
Even in a political body known for spinelessness and rank hypocrisy, Graham’s enthusiasm for humiliating himself as Trump’s lapdog was unmatched. Begged reporters to “use my words against me” in 2016 when he claimed he would oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year if a Republican were in charge, then helped ram through an appointee after people had started voting. Then Graham refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory weeks after the race was called. Though in his defense he was probably too busy committing election fraud.
22. Mark and Patricia McCloskey
The hyper-litigious, gun-toting lawyers who threatened to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters for the crime of trespassing into their gated community. The McCloskeys apparently have a long history of dickish behavior, including smashing beehives owned by a neighboring synagogue and paying an $1,800 fine for filing frivolous lawsuits in dimes. At the GOP’s white grievance convention the pair falsely claimed that Joe Biden wanted to “abolish the suburbs.” Paved the way for Kyle Rittenhouse.
21. Judy Mikovits
The anti-Jonas Salk, Mikovits is unfortunately more than just another anti-vaxxer with a book to sell. As the star of Plandemic, last year’s viral COVID-19 propaganda video, the discredited researcher helped con untold numbers of people into believing dangerous lies about the disease. Among her bogus claims were that COVID-19 was engineered in a lab, that flu vaccines increase your risk of contracting COVID-19, and that wearing a mask is harmful because it “literally activates your own virus” – whatever that means. Appears to actually be jealous of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
20. Tom Cotton
Inadvertently exposed the moral and intellectual rot at the heart of the New York Times Editorial Board by getting them to run an op-ed calling for the military to be deployed to crush the “riots” over George Floyd’s death. Still found time between tweets calling for deadly force against “rioters” and “looters” to introduce a bill aimed at whitewashing the history of slavery in public schools.
19. Sidney Powell
Colloquially known as the “kraken lawyer,” Powell vied with Rudy Giuliani for the title of “Biggest Embarrassment to the Bar.” Filed an avalanche of grammatically-challenged lolsuits in a quixotic bid to overturn the presidential election on the grounds that it had been rigged by Dominion voting machines and the ghost of Hugo Chavez. Getting fired by Trump’s legal team for being too much of a kook is actually pretty impressive.
18. Rush Limbaugh
In the 1970s a young Rush Limbaugh told a Black caller to “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” Since then he’s somehow gotten worse. Limbaugh has spent decades riling up his zombie army of right-wing dittoheads, convincing them that straight, white men are under siege by the forces of feminism, diversity, and gay rights. If you thought that he’d have some post-cancer diagnosis epiphany about the sheer damage he’s done to the country, you don’t know El Rushbo. In 2020 he downplayed COVID-19 as no worse than the “common cold,” spread dangerous election conspiracies, and smeared Black victims of police brutality. On the plus side, I hear Malebolge gets awful reception.
Incriminating Statement: “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession.”
According to its cultish followers, a Satanic cabal of affluent pedophiles are routinely raping, torturing, and cannibalizing young children, and only President Trump and an anonymous government official known as “Q” can stop them. Makes sense, right? But what started as blood libel for the digital age began merging with other crackpot theories – the Rothschilds, mandatory vaccines, reptilians – into what Anna Merlan dubbed the “conspiracy singularity.” Nearly 100 believers ran for Congress in 2020, and two of them actually won. This, uh, won’t end well.
16. Ron DeSantis
The consummate Florida Man™, DeSantis only makes the news when he does something truly stupid or horrible – like telling Floridians in 2018 not to “monkey this up” by voting for his African-American opponent. Handled the COVID-19 pandemic with the professionalism of the mayor from Jaws. DeSantis wasted valuable time by refusing to issue a mask mandate or close the state’s beaches, then buried COVID-19 data and lied about whether or not the virus had killed young people.
Incriminating Statement: “So we’ve succeeded, and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative. It challenges their assumption, so they got to try to find a boogeyman.”
15. Andrew Cuomo
And then there’s this fuckin’ guy. Cuomo’s sociopathic response to the pandemic was largely responsible for New York’s astronomical COVID-19 death toll. To recap, he resisted Mayor de Blasio’s requests for a shelter-in-place order for New York City, issued a directive for nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients, released a report exonerating his administration in nursing home deaths, then acted to shield nursing home executives from lawsuits. And as the virus tore through New York’s prison system Cuomo had inmates bottling hand sanitizer produced elsewhere and billed it as “NYS Clean.” When you blow a crisis that badly the last thing you need to be doing is writing a book on how awesome you are at your job.
14. Jared Kushner
No one has failed upwards quite like this rich, sniveling simpleton. Kushner was placed in charge of procuring PPE and other badly needed medical supplies, and handled the job like a panicked college freshman who forgot to study for his finals. His task force was made up of untrained volunteers, and largely relied on Trump allies for leads on obtaining supplies — a response one whistleblower described as “grossly inadequate.” But hey, at least he brought peace to the Middle East.
Incriminating Statement: “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
13. Rudy Giuliani
It’s amazing, really, how long America worshipped this racist cop lover just because he happened to be the mayor of New York City during 9/11. But after he attempted the laziest ratfuck ever with the Hunter Biden “laptop from Hell” story, got humiliated by Sacha Baron Cohen, and held a series of deranged press briefings — including one at a Philly landscaping business — where he leaked oil and shrieked about dead people voting, Giuliani’s career might have been staked through the heart for good.
12. Kyle Rittenhouse
A fascist child soldier who traveled to Kenosha to “protect” small businesses during a Black Lives Matter protest, apparently with lethal force. Rittenhouse became a right-wing folk hero overnight after he gunned down two people and wounded a third because he’s representative of the GOP’s increasingly deranged and bloodthirsty id.
11. Tucker Carlson
The Fox News host owes his success to his faux populist rhetoric which, like everything else on his network, is designed to mainstream a blatantly white supremacist agenda. Carlson has successfully conned millions of viewers into believing that America is under attack by immigrants, homeless people, Black Lives Matter activists, and diversity, and that the heir to the Swanson TV dinner fortune is a champion for the middle class. A misogynistic snob who squints at guests the way my dog does when he tries to watch TV. To quote George Carlin, “Fuck Tucker. Tucker sucks.”
Incriminating Statement: “Attacking people on the basis of their race is a sin. There is nothing worse for a country. They can try to disguise it with Orwellian terms like antiracism, but this is the purest kind of race hate.”
10. Jack Dorsey
Gave Trump the world’s most dangerous megaphone and refused to take it away, preferring instead to counter his election lies with mealy-mouthed disclaimers. Won’t issue a sweeping ban on white nationalist content because doing so would hurt Republican politicians. No joke.
9. Chad Wolf
How can you suck this hard at a job you don’t even have? That’s not a riddle, that’s an actual question for the former acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf. Wolf’s Gestapo-lite tactics turned Portland into a miniature police state, where nameless, heavily armed troops patrolled the city and activists were whisked away in unmarked vans. His occupying army — decked out in camouflage and hopelessly ill-equipped to keep the peace — would have been comical if they hadn’t been firing rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters and journalists.
8. Mike Pence
It’s a crime in and of itself that Mike Pence was selected to head the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force when his resume includes screwing up an HIV outbreak as governor of Indiana. The results are exactly as disastrous as everyone anticipated, and as the body count continued to rise Pence had the nerve to repeat his boss’s lies about “rounding the corner” on the pandemic. Just think, this gay-bashing lickspittle might be one of the few members of the Trump administration who will still have a career after this is all over.
7. Amy Coney Barrett
Notorious for all the wrong reasons. A Federalist Society handmaiden set to turn back the clock on abortion, LGBTQ rights, and environmental protections. Every Republican senator knows Barrett is little more than a Religious Right affirmative action hire who’s itching to overturn Roe — it’s why their dark money benefactors emptied their pockets on an ad blitz to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat. Instead of just coming clean they spent her confirmation hearing feigning ignorance, creepily praising her for having seven kids, and accusing Democrats of anti-Catholic bigotry.
Incriminating Statement: “I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”
6. Mike Pompeo
Inspired by apocalyptic delusions, Mike Pompeo was single-minded in his efforts to threaten the peace and stability of every nation on earth — regardless of whether or not he can find them on a map. A zealous defender of Israeli apartheid, Pompeo visited far-right Israeli settlements where he smeared the BDS movement as “antisemitic” and visited a West Bank winery that named a blend after him. Pompeo was also instrumental in greenlighting the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, which he initially defended by citing vague “imminent” threats. Undermined the country’s electoral integrity when he claimed there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump term” which is … actually on brand for a former CIA director.
5. William Barr
Once dubbed the “Cover-Up General” for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, William Barr served as both Trump’s personal consigliere and the public face of his “law and order” agenda. Authoritarian tendencies were dismissed by lawmakers who conveniently forgot his vocal support for granting near limitless power to the executive branch. During his second stint as Attorney General, Barr gleefully sanctioned a federal death row killing spree, classified several major cities as “anarchist jurisdictions,” and threatened communities that showed insufficient “respect” toward police. And I’m pretty sure his bagpipe performances violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Incriminating Statement: “The problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on non-religious people. It’s the opposite — it’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people, and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”
4. Donald Trump
God I’m sick of writing about this walking combover but, to borrow a phrase, “It is what it is.” Last year he was acquitted over his attempt to strong-arm the Ukrainian president into investigating Joe Biden, threatened to have looters shot, ran an openly racist reelection campaign, attempted a coup d’état, pardoned a slew of crooked politicians and child-killing war criminals, and allowed COVID-19 to spread across the country unchecked, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Trump undermined the pandemic response every step of the way, even convincing people to drink bleach, before losing interest in the disaster altogether.
Incriminating Statement: “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that [COVID-19] came here. It’s China’s fault.”
3. Louis DeJoy
The biggest PR disaster for the Postal Service since David Berkowitz. There was one reason why a Republican fundraiser with glaring conflicts of interest was elevated to the position of Postmaster General without going through the traditional vetting process: to destroy the agency from the inside. Under DeJoy’s tenure mail delivery slowed, sorting machines were deactivated, overtime for postal workers was limited, and mailboxes were removed as part of a coordinated assault on mail-in voting which could have handed Trump the election.
2. Scott Atlas
Despite having no relevant expertise in infectious diseases, this radiologist and Hoover Institution flunky was chosen to advise President Trump on his response to the pandemic. Atlas was one of the most vocal proponents of the “natural” herd immunity strategy, which amounted to watching Americans die until enough people were no longer affected by the virus, and which was — brace yourselves, folks — a horrible fucking idea.
Incriminating Statement: “This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly who are now being told don’t see your family at Thanksgiving. For many people this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not.”
1. Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell’s sole ambition since crawling out of the primordial soup has been the title of majority leader. It was that position, after all, that allowed him to lead a campaign of obstruction against Obama, clearing the way for President Trump to secure a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court and stack the federal bench with right-wing hacks. And if we had to put up with a four year assault on human decency to get there, so be it. Mitch doesn’t give a shit. He’s the kind of guy who opposes reparations, even though his family profited off slave labor, because we “elected an African American president.” Arguably most responsible for the quagmire of corruption and partisanship we continue to wallow in.
Incriminating Statement: “Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don’t assume it cannot happen. If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate, think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass. None of it.”
In memory of Ian Murphy (1978-2019)