These were 2015’s most head-scratching political stories of the year.
As we begin to say our goodbyes to 2015, it is fitting that we take a few moments to reflect on the moments in politics that made us laugh, made us cry and made us shake our head – saying “wait…. what?”
The clip below is an annual tradition by NBC News – a little something they like to call “Our Dumb Year in Politics.”
The criteria is simple, as NBC News explains: “These political moments must be head-scratching, silly or just plain dumb. They also must be pretty much inconsequential to the political landscape overall. They must be absurd. And — importantly, at a time when truly hateful rhetoric from the peanut gallery can make politics seem very deeply unfunny sometimes — they must be harmless.”
5. Deez Nuts
If there’s a single news story that sums up the goofy cocktail of political mischief-making, shock polling, the appeal of “outsiders” and our shameless glee as humans in puerile puns — yeah, it’s the rise of Donald Trump. But a more, er, heartwarming story with the same elements is the rise of a different presidential candidate by the memorable name of Deez Nuts. The 15 year-old Iowan (actually named Brady Olson), managed not only to fill out an FEC form to declare his presidential candidacy, but he also asked Public Policy Polling to test him in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
4. The Scooby Van and the Running of the Reporters
No matter what you think of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, you’ve got to admit that it delivered a true masterstroke this summer when it comes to the art of making the press look ridiculous. In a spree of focus-grouped spontaneity, Clinton and her most trusted pals ditched their typical private planes and limos in favor of a cross-country drive in an armored shuttle dubbed “The Scooby Van.” How fun and yet down-to-earth! … The piece de resistance came when the Scooby Van arrived at an Iowa venue and failed to stop where the assembled cameras expected, launching a full-fledged Olympic sprint by panicked journalists. The whole tableau was broadcast live on television, a cruel fate for a class of professionals not particularly renowned for their natural athleticism. In the immortal words of Thomas Roberts, though: “The guy in the orange pants is pretty quick!”
3. Rubio Hits a Kid in the Face With a Football
Is there anything more delightful than when a politician’s attempt to look like a regular human goes horribly awry? Marco Rubio, a football-loving dad himself, was simply enjoying a playful moment with Iowa kids when he accidentally lobbed the pigskin onto the head of a four year-old boy. … The exchange was, as you’d expect, reported with headlines like “WATCH: RUBIO HITS KID IN FACE WITH FOOTBALL” and the whole back-and-forth turned into a three-day story.
2. Bernie Sanders Assures America That He Has Numerous Pairs of Underwear
This year, comedian Larry David gave us the Bernie Sanders impression we desperately wanted but didn’t think we deserved, appearing on “Saturday Night Live.” … The crowning moment came when David-as-Sanders declared the definitive evidence that he isn’t a Washington insider: “I own one pair of underwear. That’s it!” Perhaps dazzled by David’s curmudgeonly accuracy, a reporter asked Sanders the following day about his supply of underwear, which we’re sure is what Edward R. Murrow would have done, too. “Last week I bought my second pair of underwear,” the real Sanders replied, adding for the truly literal among us: “That is a joke. Don’t write it down, that was a joke. I have an ample supply of underwear.” Which is good news for a candidate whose unofficial slogan is “feel the bern.” #SeeWhatWeDidThere?
1. Ted Cruz Declares World Aflame, Frightens Tiny Child
If you think nothing says “folksy” like scaring the bejeezus out of a three year-old, Ted Cruz is practically Garrison Keillor, folks. At a campaign event in New Hampshire in March, the conservative firebrand warned a rapt audience of the horrors of “the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind,” adding with flourish that “The whole world is on fire!” That last quote caught the attention of three-year old tot Julie Trant, who took the hyperbole literally and expressed understandable alarm. Chuckling, Cruz confirmed his earlier statement, even adding a personal touch. “YOUR world is on fire!” he clarified.