It takes a lot of cojones (or maybe just complete stupidity) to make the same mistake twice. But that's just what New York mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner managed to do when he got caught up in yet another sex scandal. In keeping with tradition, the newest issue of The New Yorker features a clever cartoon cover (say that three times fast) mocking this latest piece of news from the nefarious world of politics.
In the illustration for the August 5 issue, we see Anthony Weiner à la King Kong, straddling a strategically placed Empire State Building, but with a slightly, shall we say, risqué twist. As you've probably noticed, Weiner's scandal lends itself to countless parodies, late-night talk show jokes, and other sorts of fodder for hilarity. (Seriously, his name is Weiner.) But the barrage of media attention and comedic content inspired by his sexual indiscretions is nothing new or unusual. Rather, Weiner's scandal is just the latest in the slew of politicians' sordid affairs that have sparked full-on laugh riots in the comedy world. From fake campaign commercials to parody songs to just straight-up hilarious commentary, these are some of our favorite reactions to political sex scandals.
John EdwardsNorth Carolina Democrat John Edwards was once a state senator, nominee for Vice President, and candidate for President of the United States. But his political ambitions were dashed when news broke that he had fathered an illegimate child with his mistress and former campaign worker Rielle Hunter. The scandal, which caused a national outrage, also inspired an abundance of humorous parodies, including several Saturday Night Live sketches. And we can't forget MadTV's "Viva La Cheata," a musical parody of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" starring Jerry O'Connell as Edwards.
Herman CainPresidential candidate hopeful Herman Cain was a frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination in 2011, but he was forced to suspend his campaign when four women sued him for sexual harrassment and misconduct. When the fourth season of Arrested Development premiered on Netflix this summer, fans were introduced to a new character named Herbert Love. Mr. Love, a bizarre conservative politician who has an affair with Lindsay Bluth Fünke, is an unmistakable caricature of Herman Cain. If you have a Netflix account, check out his role in the latter half of Season 4. And if you don't, change that.
Mark SanfordWhen South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford went missing for a few days in 2009, it didn't take too much investigative reporting to discover that the married politician was visiting his mistress in Argentina. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart had a few hilarious choice words about the scandal, calling Sanford "just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis."
Bill ClintonNothing epitomizes the political sex scandal quite like President Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky affair. There are too many jokes, songs, commentaries, and parodies to count, but one of our favorite takes on the scandal is Billy Bob Thornton's sleazy, womanizing American president character in Love Actually. Also, when the creators of baracksdubs decided to put together a presidential version of Robin Thicke's suggestive "Blurred Lines," there was no better fit than good ol' Bubba Clinton.
Eliot SpitzerIn 2008, New York governor Eliot Spitzer made headlines and was forced to resign when The New York Times reported that he had been a patron of a high-priced prostitution service called Emperors Club VIP. In all legal proceedings, Spitzer was referred to as Client #9, a moniker that inspired a musical parody of the scandal, set to the melody of Love Potion No. 9. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler also had some hilariously incredulous commentary on the subject in their signature "Really!?!" segment.
Arnold SchwarzeneggerCalifornia governor and Kennedy husband Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to have it all. That is, until it was revealed that he had an illegitimate child with one of his longtime household employees. The Governator's scandal prompted yet another brilliant "Really!?!" sketch (unfortunately sans Amy Poehler)
David VitterWhen Louisiana senator David Vitter was identified as a client of the the "D.C. Madam" prostitution service, he did not face criminal charges because of the statute of limiations. The Republican congressman did however face a wave of mockery from the press and public alike. Funny Or Die put together a fake campaign commercial with video footage of Vitter accompanied by captions like "David Vitter has a diaper fetish."
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More:Chelsea Handler Reads Anthony Weiner's SextsAlec Baldwin Calls on Disgraced Weiner to Drop Out of Mayoral RaceJon Stewart Address Weinergate Scandal After Defending Weiner
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With its twisty-turning plot and military setting Basic could be the love child of an illicit affair between The Usual Suspects and The General's Daughter; it even borrows the star of the latter. In Basic John Travolta plays Tom Hardy a former Army Ranger and interrogator extraordinaire who's now a DEA agent in Panama suspended from duty on suspicion of bribery. He's hitting the rebellious law enforcement officer's requisite bottle of Jack Daniels heavily--until an old friend on the local army base Col. Bill Styles (Tim Daly) calls him in to investigate the disappearances and probable deaths of an elite group of trainees and their commander Sgt. Nathan West (Samuel L Jackson) during a training session in the Panamanian jungle. Staff investigator Lt. Julia Osbourne (Connie Nielsen) a plucky Southern gal who's none too pleased with Hardy's invasion of her turf is assigned to help Hardy question the unit's surviving members Kendall (Giovanni Ribisi) and Dunbar (Brian Van Holt). As their stories unfold over a series of flashbacks the interrogators discover a military underworld of drugs murder and coercion--and the mysterious existence of a rogue Ranger unit called "Section 8." Now for an interrogation of our own. Is the plot convoluted? Sir yes sir! Is it too tricky for its own good? Sir yes sir! Thank you soldier. You may stand down.
The trigger-finger pointing winking cluck-clucking "gotcha" persona Travolta (Swordfish Domestic Disturbance) creates in Hardy is as appropriate to the story as it can possibly be; the way he manipulates his subjects under interrogation is much the same way the story manipulates its audience. He leads them--and the observant Lt. Osbourne--to believe one thing then pulls the rug out from under them to prove the old cliché of military movies: that nothing is as it seems. In Nielsen's (The Hunted One Hour Photo) Osbourne we're given a character who could lead us through the jungle of the plot (she discovers the "facts" at the same time as the audience so her reaction is meant I suppose to be ours) but since Hardy spends much of his time making her look and feel like an idiot she comes off as one and frankly so do we. The talented Jackson (Changing Lanes) mostly does the bellowing drill sergeant bit while Ribisi (Heaven) as the homosexual son of a high-ranking general talks like he has cotton wool in his mouth and moves and twitches like he's mildly brain-impaired. (His character's not supposed to be; he only got shot in the leg.) One bright spot in this movie is the featured role for hunky Van Holt (Windtalkers Black Hawk Down) whose chiseled good looks and heroic demeanor make him a shoo-in should anyone ever make a live-action Johnny Bravo movie.
Director John McTiernan has given audiences some heavy-duty action in Die Hard Die Hard With a Vengeance and The Hunt for Red October but he's also the director who brought us such gems as Rollerball and Last Action Hero so it's not surprising that in Basic we get some action and intrigue paired with the out-there story stylings and narrative confusion of some of his less successful work. Here each flashback brings new information that conflicts with what we've been told before and the story never really resolves those conflicts in any satisfying way. The "big twist" at the end instead of bringing it all together creates gaping holes in the plot or at least creates so much doubt in the story we've just spent an hour and a half watching that it's easy to get fed up with trying to figure it out. Naturally no one likes to be spoon-fed plot resolutions but in order for twists to work they have to give the audience something to focus its doubt on--they can't just call the whole kit and caboodle into question. We have to be able eventually to figure it out. But hey maybe we aren't supposed to work out the details; after all this movie with its catchy one-word title and colorful cast of characters is just begging for a sequel: Basic 2: Explaining the First Movie.