2013 has been a big year in U.S. politics. President Obama, who was inaugurated in January for his second term, finally implemented his signature health care legislation. Later in the year, the federal government shut down due to a funding war largely over that same reform. But it’s also been a huge year for politicians doing and saying some truly embarrassing things. Even without the constant media attention from a presidential campaign like last year's, politicians still managed to embarass themselves in some ridiculous ways.
Here are the 10 biggest political gaffes of 2013.
Marco Rubio Gets Thirsty
In one of the most infamous moments of the year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was asked to deliver a response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech. Rubio recorded a Spanish version of his speech first before stepping in front of the cameras to record a live English-language response. He apparently became very thirsty under the bright lights, because he suddenly lunged left and took a sip of water in the middle of his speech, resulting in one extremely awkward silence.
Give Fetuses Guns
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has named himself Texas’ most conservative congressman, and he wants you to know it. In April, the virulently pro-gun and pro-life Stockman combined his two favorite pet causes into one insane bumper sticker, reading “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.” This one may have been less of a gaffe and more of an intentional act of provocation, however. Stockman is well known for hanging out with conservative provocateur Ted Nugent, so perhaps the two are having a bit of a laugh over all the uproar.
â€” Rep. Steve Stockman (@StockmanSenate) April 12, 2013
Racism Is Over!
Racism is over in America, at least according to the Republican National Convention. On Rosa Parks Day in December, the Republican National Convention implied that there are no more racists left in America, tweeting “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.” Understandably, the tweet caused an uproar online, leading the GOP to issue a correction claiming the tweet should have read "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism."
Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism. pic.twitter.com/uxIj1QmtkU
â€” RNC (@GOP) December 1, 2013
Duck Dynasty and Rosa Parks Have a Lot in Common
Speaking of Rosa Parks, some Republicans just can’t seem to stop making ridiculous comparisons to the civil rights icon. After “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson was suspended from the reality show for making offensive statements on homosexuality, Illinois congressional hopeful Ian Bayne compared the bearded Louisiana duck-call patriarch to Rosa Parks. In an email to supporters, Bayne wrote, "In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians.” It’s also worth noting that in the notorious GQ interview that got him fired last week, Robertson implied that African-Americans were happier in the Jim Crow era, something Rosa Parks would probably disagree with.
Jeb Bush Falls For Hoax
When the Obama administration announced that it would move the United States embassy to the Vatican to a different facility, some right-wingers used the move to claim that Obama was “closing” the Vatican embassy and cutting off all diplomatic ties with the Roman Catholic Church. Jeb Bush, touted as the smart one in the family, fell for the exaggerated lie and tweeted out, “Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.” In reality, the U.S. is just moving the Vatican embassy to the same building that houses the embassy to Italy, in a move expected to save more than $1 million per year.
Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.
â€” Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 27, 2013
Alaska Senator Drops Slur in Interview
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) made headlines in March when he referred to migrant Hispanic workers using the racial slur “wetbacks.” In an interview with Ketchikan Public Radio, Young told an anecdote about growing up on a California farm: "My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," Young said. "It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine.” The 79-year-old Young never released a full apology for using the slur, though he later claimed in a statement that the term “was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California," and that he “meant no disrespect."
Biden Calls the Wrong Man Twice
Vice President Joe Biden is no stranger to gaffes, so this may be less of a “big f*cking deal” than other moments, but it’s embarrassing all the same. When Biden saw that Democratic candidate Marty Walsh had been elected mayor of Boston in November, the vice president excitedly called him up. “You son of a gun, Marty!” Biden reportedly said. “You did it!” Except he was talking to the wrong Marty Walsh. As it turns out, Biden called up another Marty Walsh who formerly worked for Ted Kennedy and now heads a government relations firm. After receiving the right number from the wrong Marty, Biden reportedly misdialed his phone and left a congratulatory voicemail to a woman named Toni.
Best-Looking Attorney General
President Obama drew the ire of some feminist groups after publicly commenting on the appearance of California Attorney General Kamala Harris. At a fundraiser in Silicon Valley, Obama praised Harris, stating that “She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough,” before adding, “She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general.” Obama was criticized for reducing Harris to her appearance, which he later apologized for.
Nevada Senator Would Vote for Slavery
Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-Gardnerville) has some interesting ideas about how a republic works. Speaking to a group of fellow Republicans, Wheeler explained that his job was to vote for whatever his constituents wanted, even if they demanded he reinstate slavery. “It that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah... if that’s what the constituency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for,” Wheeler said. Later, Wheeler apologized to the Las Vegas Sun, claiming that his words weren’t meant literally.
Everything Rob Ford Did in 2013
Political gaffes in North America weren't limited to the U.S. Case in point: Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, Canada. Rob Ford smoked crack. Rob Ford lied about smoking crack. Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack. Rob Ford called a journalist a pedophile. Rob Ford knocked over a council member at a meeting. Rob Ford got drunk and threatened to kill a man. Rob Ford said he had “more than enough to eat at home” while denying that he offered a female staffer oral sex. And yes, after all that, Rob Ford is still mayor of Toronto.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.