In another year marked by a steady stream of gaffes, scandals, and strange controversies, the late night comedy pros have had no drought of material from Washington, D.C., as the stars of our nation’s body politic continued to say goofy things into microphones on a shockingly regular basis.
Here are eleven of 2013’s most bizarre, headscratching, strange moments, in the words of the men and women who brought them to you.
‘I knew that by putting something out as a tweet that I deleted that the press would see it, and if they could read something into what was an innocent tweet about how hot Cyndi Lauper was as a performer, that it would get the press’s attention, and it did in a monster way.’ – Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., April 12.
Alex Wong / Getty Images file
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) speaks to members of the media during a news conference about deleted tweets in his office April 12, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Cohen had a tumultuous year. He was the center of a Twitter scandal in February after sending eyebrow-raising tweets to an attractive young model, only to reveal that he believed the woman was his biological daughter. (Paternity tests later proved otherwise.) Cohen’s hastily-deleted tweets to “Time After Time” crooner Cyndi Lauper similarly sent reporters looking for answers. Cohen said that’s exactly what he intended, insisting that this "tweet and delete" ploy was the most effective way to promote an upcoming documentary about Memphis music. See, congressmen just wanna have fun, too.
‘I will eat them anywhere. I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam I Am!’ - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Sept. 24.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz reads two bedtime stories to his daughters at home and likens Obamacare to "Green Eggs and Ham."
Cruz needed a lot of material to fill his famed 21-hour speech against Obamacare. In addition to a Darth Vader impression and some praise for White Castle hamburgers, Cruz read from the children’s classic “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. He said he was reading the story his young daughters, but amateur Seussologists were quick to point out that the message of the children’s tale is to try new things before declaring one’s dislike for them. As Obamacare was poised for its big rollout, critics accused Cruz of prejudging the law before fully understanding its effects. “I was appalled," Democrat Chuck Schumer told reporters. "Green Eggs and Ham has a moral: Don't criticize something … until you actually try it.”
‘Spread your legs — you're gonna be frisked!’ Vice President Joe Biden, Jan. 3.
Vice President Joe Biden made Heidi Heitkamp's swearing-in ceremony...memorable.
Vice President Joe Biden got a bit, er, frisky, in January as he greeted senators and their families for a ceremonial swearing-in. That included a lot of flattering comments to members’ elderly parents (“You’ve got beautiful eyes, mom”), siblings (“Need any help on your pecs, man, give me a call!”) and other guests (“You are so pretty. God love you, holy mackerel.”) The most YouTube-able moment came when a photographer directed Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s husband to put his hands by his sides. Biden interpreted the order oddly. “To somebody in North Dakota, they think it’s a frisk!” Biden exclaimed. After the photo was snapped, Biden acknowledged the giggles in room: “I’m a little too formal, I know.”
‘The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip’ – White House press secretary Jay Carney, April 11.
The former president of Def Jam is friendly with the current leader of the free world. President Barack Obama and rapper Jay-Z have reportedly exchanged text messages, and the president’s name comes up in the hip-hop superstar’s lyrics from time to time. So when Jay-Z rapped that he “got White House clearance” in connection with his trip to Cuba with Beyonce, reporters were quick to investigate. White House spokesman Carney flatly denied that the White House was involved. The president later told NBC’s TODAY that he has “better things to do” than get involved with Hova’s travel plans. On to the next one …
‘The most shocking part of the story was learning that there is a vegan strip club in Portland.’ – Cory Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis, Sept. 25.
It’s no secret that former Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker really enjoys Twitter. But his compliment-swapping with a 26 year-old stripper (with a very NSFW Twitter profile) earned him the attention of the national media. The svelte employee of Portland’s “Casa Diablo” club – which does, in fact, exclusively serve vegan food --- admitted in interviews that she had a “slight crush” on the ambitious politician but said she initiated the G-rated contact. His campaign’s tongue-in-check response helped mitigate the damage, and Booker was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.
‘We started arguing about who won the Cold War, etc. And so we decided to settle it like men do when they’ve had too much to drink in the pub. And so we got down to these arm wrestling matches. And I ended up being paired up off with Putin.’ – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Sept. 12
Who among us HASN’T gotten into an inebriated arm-wrestling match with the future president of a global superpower? Rohrabacher’s 1990s tale of tussling with a budding Putin in Washington, D.C., also featured a spirited game of touch football between American and Russian politicians. The story would make a great short film, but – spoiler alert – sounds like Putin won pretty decisively. In Rohrabacher’s own words, “his muscles are just unbelievable.”
Sen. Marco Rubio stops to reach for a bottle of water while delivering Tuesday's GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
‘We’re glad Poland Spring was close at hand for Sen. Rubio last night at his moment of need for refreshment.’– Poland Spring statement, Feb. 13.
It wasn’t what Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said during his response to the president’s State of the Union that got him in, er, hot water. It was his poorly-timed lunge for a bottle of water off-screen in the middle of an otherwise eloquent speech about conservative values. The Poland Spring company, delighted at the “cameo,” joined in the fun.
‘I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.’ – President Barack Obama, March 1.
For a president often popularly compared to Spock, Obama really doesn’t have his sci-fi facts straight. Even folks who are far from fluent Klingon-speakers had to scratch their heads at Obama’s assertion that only some kind of “Jedi mind meld” could help change Republicans’ minds about sequestration cuts. The White House embraced the mashup of Star Trek and Star Wars, launching a web site that played off of Obama’s mistake, but nerds fumed.
‘It's hard to take you seriously’ – NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, to a British reporter, Aug. 8.
"I just have a feeling I like stepped into a Monty Python bit," Anthony Weiner said as a British journalist questioned him about his campaign to become New York City mayor. He then offered to present an impromptu weather forecast.
Anthony Weiner’s would-be redemption story turned into a can’t-tear-your-eyes-away political car crash as his bid for New York City mayor disintegrated in scandal. His campaign rallies often ended with heckling and ridicule from voters familiar with his sexual pseudonym “Carlos Danger.” The spectacle was enough to draw reporters from around the country and around the globe, including an ITV reporter whose accent Weiner mocked as “a Monty Python bit” before offering to do an impromptu weather report for her home country. Voters had a hard time taking Weiner seriously, as it turned out; he placed fifth in the Democratic primary.
‘For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, July 18.
King’s not known as a warm and fuzzy speaker, and this comment about children brought to the country illegally prompted heated condemnation from the highest levels in his party. King stood by his remarks, saying had seen such drug mule activity during visits to the Mexican-American border.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who was photographed at a party where teens were drinking, says he should have assumed they were consuming alcohol and not Kool-Aid. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
“There could be Kool-Aid in the red cups, but there’s probably beer in the red cups.” Maryland Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler, Oct. 24.
If your current job is as a state’s top law enforcement officer, being photographed at a high school kegger is probably not a good idea. Gansler told reporters that he stopped at the party briefly to speak with his son and that he made a “mistake” by failing to investigate whether drinking was going on. (The tabletop twerking by several youths was, apparently, not a dead giveaway.) The scandal launched a larger – and, arguably, valuable -- conversation about parental responsibility, but Gansler’s press conference will be one bookmarked by political junkies as one for the ages. Ohhhhhh, Yeah!