The DIDDLY Award

The Tom Cruise Award for most impressive media meltdown. And the nominees are?

Illustrations By: Peter Hoey (trophy) and Tom Bachtell

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Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) had to rebut a Roll Call story alleging that during a Republican delegation trip to Kazakhstan he was drunk the whole time, downing as many as 20 vodka shots before riding a horse, then falling off the horse, then getting his ribs broken after being trampled by another horse, and later making fun of the local attire by prancing about in a Conehead skit making alien beeping noises. Rehberg insisted to Roll Call that he’d had only “three or four” shots.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) showed his anti-sexual-disease slide show and Star Wars parody “Revenge of the STDs.” The audience, young Hill staffers, was warned about vivid close-ups of genital warts and other ravages of the groin. “Stop the STDs, we must,” said Yoda, on promo fliers. “Never underestimate the power of the STDs,” added Darth Vader.

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Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) reacted to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff’s correction regarding Koran abuse at Gitmo by ranting on the House floor: “America’s troops are in enough danger without self-righteous, yellow journalists like Michael Isikoff defaming them for a cheap headline.” Ney neglected to mention that Isikoff was also pursuing a story linking him to Jack Abramoff, whose money allegedly filled Ney’s campaign coffers.

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who, after thuggishly threatening the judges in the Terri Schiavo case — “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior” — soon found himself mentioned in an episode of Law & Order. When a judge gets murdered on the show, a police officer says, “Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt.”

WINNER! Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who brown-nosed his majority leader, DeLay, by outlining a counterstrategy after the Law & Order episode aired. According to a memo revealed by Roll Call, Kingston advised Republicans to note that it was a liberal plot to associate DeLay with a “racist, anti-Semitic judge-killer.” He added that Republicans should “turn the tables for a minute: You never see TV shows depicting a 15-year-old teenage girl driving across the state border to get an abortion with a Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton T-shirt on.”

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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