His problems began when he cheated on his first wife in an affair with a patient, and the patient got pregnant.

To save his marriage — and prove the affair was over — the Tennessee Tomcat devised the most misguided coverup since Watergate. He secretly recorded a conversation with his mistress in which he pressured her to get an abortion.

The cherished life of his child had become a "problem" that needed to be "fixed."

"You told me you'd have an abortion," DesJarlais says on the tape. "And now we're getting too far along without one."

As you might expect, his ham-fisted reconciliation plan backfired. As it turns out, DesJarlais wasn't just a serial philanderer; he'd also spent years compiling frequent-flier miles at Planned Parenthood.

Last November, the congressman's 700-page divorce-trial testimony went public. In it, he admitted to affairs with three co-workers, a drug rep and two other patients. He also confessed to encouraging his wife to get two abortions before they were married.

But these revelations didn't move DesJarlais to a healthy round of soul-searching. Instead, he played the victim card, blaming a political opponent for "false, personal attacks."

When that didn't work — he'd taped his own confession, after all — he took cover in religion, claiming that God had given him a mulligan.

"I know God's forgiven me," DesJarlais announced. "I simply ask my fellow Christians and constituents to do the same." In other words, if his constituents weren't up for "grace and redemption," they were rejecting direct orders from the Lord himself.

DesJarlais was abandoned by members of his own party. The Tennessee Conservative Union, the largest and oldest right-wing group in the state, demanded that he resign.

"The level of shamefulness was unprecedented," says Tennessee Democratic spokesman Brandon Puttbrese. "This is a doctor who had sex with patients and then tried to lecture people on health-care policy, as if he gave a good damn about being an ethical physician."

Yet the cloak of God still trumps hypocrisy in the fundamentalist backwaters of middle Tennessee. DesJarlais was re-elected by a comfortable margin last fall, allowing him to carry on as Washington's official face of grace and redemption.


7. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

Burning Through Billions on Quack Science

In January, Senator Tom Harkin announced that he would retire in 2015. Washington was soon to lose its biggest advocate for questionable science.

Harkin is most responsible for the creation and continued survival of a little-known office called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. If it sounds relatively harmless, that's the problem.

Harkin's interest in alternative medicine came from personal experience. After trying everything to rid himself of a hay fever allergy, the senator reportedly found relief through heavy dosing of bee pollen, taking up to 60 pills a day.

At the time, he happened to be the chairman of a subcommittee responsible for funding the National Institutes of Health. So in 1991, he introduced a law that would allow the agency to "investigate and validate ... unconventional medical practices" — like his bee pollen cure.

"This was the equivalent of a politician starting an organization to investigate UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle and every other kooky conspiracy theory that's out there," says Alex Berezow, editor of online site RealClearScience and author of the book Science Left Behind. "This was the X-Files of medical research."

Investigating is certainly something the center has done. It's the validating part that has caused trouble, much to Harkin's dismay.

Though the agency's budget started at a paltry $2 million, like everything else in Washington, it has metastasized, to nearly $130 million annually. It has blown through billions testing dubious "cures" better left to late-night infomercials. The effect of distant prayer on AIDS. Harp music on stress levels. Therapeutic touch on bone cancer.

Unsurprisingly, not one of these methods has proven effective. In fact, in his attempt to legitimize alternative medicine, Harkin has actually accomplished the opposite: He's managed to nearly discredit it entirely.

Study after center study has shown that placebos are just as effective as Harkin's homeopathic miracles. In some cases, the "cures" were actually found to make things worse, as when the center discovered that St. John's wort rendered certain cancer drugs less effective.

That the scientific method is able to weed the good from the bad would seem to be the one positive outcome of Harkin's two-decade misadventure. Yet the senator sees it as "discrimination," lamenting that his agency has been "disproving things rather than seeking out and approving things."

Unfortunately for Harkin, that's how science works.


6. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)

When Tragedy Strikes, You Can Never Go Wrong by Blaming the Muslims

Dana Rohrabacher isn't a central-casting conservative. The Laguna Beach congressman surfs, wears Hawaiian shirts under his blazers and has admitted to doing everything except slurp the bongwater when it comes to drugs.

But when it comes to seeing Muslims around every dark corner, Rohrabacher is the self-anointed flag-bearer of the Republican fringe.

Take the Oklahoma City bombing: Though all evidence points to a plot executed by homegrown goobers, Rohrabacher was certain the Muslims were to blame.

So he traveled to a supermax prison in Colorado to interview co-conspirator Terry Nichols. The congressman was convinced that Nichols had been taught to build bombs in the Philippines by Ramsi Yousef, the man behind the first World Trade Center attack. He also sent a staffer to the island nation to prove the connection.

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11 comments
mavery1
mavery1

I'm just amazed that Michael Burgess, congressman from Texas 26th district, wasn't mentioned.

halldecker
halldecker

Sheila Jackson Lee.  You left out her most famous Q,  asking at a Hearing on the NASA budget ...

"Can the Hubble Telescope see the US flag the Apollo astronauts left on the Moon?"



wmanning
wmanning

Hank Johnson for President.......

Marvin Remmers
Marvin Remmers

People like their own congressmen. Ted Cruz was elected by over 50% of the people and he's done a good job already. I would guess that his approval rating is pretty high here in Texas.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a 22-year House veteran and ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, this week warned of "over 170 million jobs that could be lost."

Uh, that is more than all the jobs in America.

We're in real trouble.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Congress has always contained its fair share of pinheads and egomaniacs 

dallasbourne
dallasbourne

Between this article and Schutze's about Dallas City Hall, I just want to run away! Somewhere far away -- New Zealand maybe.  It's like the entire country has lost it!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

That caricature of Cruz looks a lot more like Al Gore.  

pszymeczek
pszymeczek

The scariest thing about Paul Broun is that he's a DOCTOR.  If I had ever been one of his patients, I would be SO out of there.

zhorsh
zhorsh

Cruz is most definitely #1 weirdo and Commie chaser. What an embarassment!

How he got elected along with Gohmert, Cornyn Grayson and a couple more just shows you why Texas is the laughing stock of the country/world.

 
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