Ten Silliest Political Moments in 2013

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Last week, I counted down the Most Influential News Events of 2013. Those were all great moments, but in 2013 we also had our share of not-so-great moments. So as a counterpoint to my earlier list, I think we should count down the most embarrassing, awkward, and dumbest moments in law and politics in 2013.

10. Marco Rubio and His Water

Marco Rubio is, without a doubt, one of the rising stars of the Republican Party. In fact, he was chosen to give the right’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. I would expect this to be a rather nerve-racking moment of public speaking. And Senator Rubio’s mouth, understandably, got dry. So he reached for his water. And it was very, very awkward.

Here’s the thing, I understand that Rubio was nervous. People need a quick sip of water while speaking all the time. So, usually, they place the water in a convenient location in a small glass, so they can take a sip at an opportune time. They do not lurch off-screen in the middle of a point to awkwardly grab a tiny water bottle and then make really direct eye contact with the camera. It was awkward, it distracted from his message, and it was rather embarrassing.

9. Suing Over Sandwiches 

Moving over to the world of law, there were a few weird lawsuits in 2013. One of my favorites was against everyone’s favorite fast-food sandwich shop, Subway. Two New Jersey men are suing the company because their advertised “foot-longs” only measured 11 inches.

The case is allegedly about “holding companies to deliver what they’ve promised.” Guys, these sandwiches are five dollars. They’re a good deal, but they’re five dollars. If you want a sandwich for five dollars, please don’t expect it to be perfect.

8. Biden’s Bad Photo

Biden, as lovable as he is, has had some rough political gaffes over the years. One of my favorites from this year was when he accidentally displayed a classified document in a press photo.

When you’re Vice President of the United States, one would think that you are pretty used to getting your picture taken. So why would you hold up a classified document when you know members of the press corps are around? Joe was just lucky that you couldn’t really tell anything about the document from the cover.

7. Rob Ford

Rob Ford is the mayor of Toronto, despite a really embarrassing year. His banner moment was when he admitted to smoking crack, but only because he was in a drunken stupor! Ford is now a household name because of his many gaffes.

Yet Ford still has a 42 percent approval rating, as of late November. Toronto, you are so much nicer to your politicians than us Americans.

6. What Rhymes with Allison Lundergan Grimes

Sen. Mitch McConnell is already in a decently contentious reelection campaign. So his staff got together and made a video using the most cutting-edge technology available to them. Really, this video is brilliant. It deserves an Academy Award.

Just kidding, it’s awful. It looks like a project I made in 5th grade computer class. I don’t know what’s worse, the awkward video splicing, the god-awful auto tuning, or the really low quality neon text that hovers around the screen. The video actually went viral, and the tune was kind of catchy. But I’m going to bet that half the reason it went viral was because it was so embarrassingly bad.

5. Sen. Rand Paul’s Plagiarism Problem 

This year, Rand Paul was accused of summarizing the plot to the movie Gattica with words straight from its Wikipedia page. After that, more incidences came out of Paul lifting paragraphs straight from other sources.

That box may be full of Wiki printouts.

As a student, I am constantly warned about the dangers of plagiarism. For multiple classes, I have had to upload papers through a software that checks my work for any plagiarism. Maybe we need to institute that in the Senate as well.

4. Apple Porn Lawsuit

A man named Chris Sever is suing Apple for his porn addiction. He’s claiming that because his Apple product did not come with a pre-installed block of inappropriate content, he was exposed to porn and then became addicted. He also is claiming that Apple has harmed adult stores’ profits.

In my book, it’s your own fault if you develop a porn addiction. Blaming a computer for your addiction is the same as blaming your cup for your alcoholism.

3. Rep. Don Young Uses Racial Slur

Rep. Don Young of Alaska called Latinos by the racial slur, “Wetbacks.” He attempted to explain, stating that he “meant no disrespect” and it was “a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in central California.”

Rep. Young, just because you were racist when you were a kid doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to be racist now. And to say you meant no disrespect is ridiculous. This isn’t an obscure term, it’s a pretty well known racial slur. Regardless of how you meant it, it’s NEVER appropriate to use.

2. Nelson Mandela Funeral Translator

The Nelson Mandela funeral was attended by a whole host of world leaders. Somehow, despite the plethora of PR teams and political strategists, no one thought to vet the sign language translator.

Real translator on right, fake on left.

This isn’t the first time this fake translator showed up — he may have signed for President Jacob Zuma back in 2010, but this was the most high profile appearance he’s made. This is embarrassing for South Africa, for President Obama, and a sad day for the global deaf community.

1. Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler Says He’d Vote for Slavery

“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah.”

Wheeler was ostensibly attempting to say that if his constituents wanted something, he would be bound to their wishes. He is saying that he would vote to enslave other human beings, if that’s what the people who voted for him wanted. 

First of all, to make that point, he could have used anything. He could have used any vaguely unpopular policy to prove his point. He did not need to be that horrible, and because of that, Wheeler should be very, very embarrassed.

Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at

Featured image courtesy of [Princess Theater via Flickr]

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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