Decades ago The Progressive had an annual article highlighting the 10 dimmest bulbs in Congress. Alas, they no longer do so, so I am forced to take up the mantle and produce a “10 dimmest” list of my own.
The No. 1 spot would have been easily taken by Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), but he’s out of the running, having retired at the start of the 118th Congress. He once lamented, “If you’re a Republican, you can’t even lie to Congress or lie to an FBI agent or they’re coming after you. They’re gonna bury you.” Funny, I don’t remember a day before 2017 when Republicans could commit felonies without consequences.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 dimmest bulbs in Congress, plus a dishonorable mention. (Spoiler alert: No. 1 is not who you think.)
Dishonorable Mention: Congressman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
The Honorable Andy Biggs isn’t so honorable when it comes to the Jan. 6 attempted coup including being in on planning the insurrection and fake-electors scheme along with his colleagues Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). But did you know he’s also not that bright?
Biggs, who challenged Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the privilege of herding cats in the U.S. House, once claimed “I’m not an idiot!” during a House hearing. I’m surprised he didn’t follow it up with “I’m not a crook!”
Here’s a sample of Biggs’ usual over-the-top screeds:
The fierce beast of the Left, the omnivorous viper of the Democrats, has been let loose. Every tyrant needs quislings. Unfortunately, there are appeasers even among Republicans. The “useful idiots” of the Left are being eaten already; the appeasers will be next.
Those who demand grace from Trump supporters as we watch the nation stolen from us, deny the peril from a ravenous beast that will consume our freedoms and chain the American people.
So, dumb or deranged? You make the call.
#10 – Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
We know that Jim Jordan is both callous and cowardly. He looked the other way while he was the assistant coach at Ohio State while dozens of male wrestlers were molested by the team’s doctor. An independent investigation revealed that the doctor molested at least 177 male victims; at least six say that they told Jordan and that he shrugged it off. (Ohio State has settled with nearly 300 victims.)
But this is about stupidity, so let’s look at how dumb Gym Jordan really is. Columbus Monthly sports a December 2020 article titled “The List: Things that *might* be as dumb as Rep. Jim Jordan’s Fauci Christmas tweet” that might be an indicator. One of the items was Jordan tweeting that Big Tech was censoring conservatives at the exact moment that six of the eight of the top 10 top performers on Facebook were conservative accounts. Go you, Jimmy!
Jordan has argued that disgraced former president Donald J. Trump could not be responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection because there was pre-planning. Huh? Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent pointed out that there’s plenty of evidence that Trump began looking to steal the 2020 election by at least December. If only Jordan had bothered to listen in on Trump’s second impeachment, he’d know this. But then, ignoring evidence is pretty on-brand for Jordan.
Jordan had thought to weaponize his chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee to prove all sorts far-right conspiracy theories, but he keeps getting foiled, thanks to his lack of intelligence. None of it stuck, not his sad attempt to debate Dr. Anthony Fauci; not the Twitter Files nonsense; not his claiming that it was Time magazine’s cover of Trump’s stolen classified documents that endangered national security, not Trump’s own fecklessness; not his confusion on why disinformation experts might study disinformation, not his contention that Real America works hard (unlike his Messiah Donald Trump). In fairness, Jordan’s lack of legislative accomplishments may be due to laziness and/or incompetence rather than abject stupidity.
When Jordan tweeted — in all-caps, of course — that “NOTHING IS FREE,” Jezebel helpfully made an entire list of things that are, indeed, free. They forgot to add the free entertainment we get from Jim Jordan’s floundering around, though.
#9 – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)
From 2019 to late 2020, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos served as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. You’d think that Bustos’ job would be to take seats away from Republicans; however, that’s not how she saw her job. You see, too many progressives were pushing out corporate Dem old-timers, and that was the real danger to the Republic! Bustos spent more time blackballing consultants if they worked for progressive challengers than fighting Republicans.
In 2018, before Bustos tried to clip the wings of progressive challengers, Democrats flipped 40 seats. So how did Bustos’ awesome tactic work out for the Democratic Party? Well, Bustos resigned after the 2020 election because the Democratic Party lost so many races. Genius!
#8 – Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.)
It’s a pity Congressman Matt Rosendale isn’t better known because he’s hilarious — in the most inadvertent and stupid way possible. A Maryland transplant, Rosendale touts himself as a “rancher” even though what he really is, is a realtor who leases land to ranchers. To quote Daily Kos, “This would be like if a landlord claimed to be a professional cosplayer because one of their tenants went to a comic convention dressed as Sailor Moon.” We can see you, carpetbagger.
Rosendale tried to replace Democrat Jon Tester in the U.S. Senate in 2018, but, despite having Donald Trump come out to campaign for Rosendale, he lost handily in a state that Trump won by 20 points in 2016.
A member of the Never-Kevin club, which refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker, Rosendale believes just the kind of stupid conspiracy theories you’d expect — with a few new ones for spice. For example, Rosendale believes that on Mondays, a single Republican and a single Democrat get together to pass bills all by their lonesomes. Now, there’s never any record of these secret laws, nor do the costs appear anywhere, but a blockhead doesn’t need actual proof! When Montana Lee Newspapers asked Rosendale’s staff for examples of secret laws passed by unanimous consent, there was no response. No surprise.
Rosendale even relates stories that make him out to be an idiot. He claims he didn’t realize that he was posing for photos with neo-Nazis last March. The neo-Nazis claim that Rosendale invited them. Rosendale counters: “I was asked for a photo while walking between hearings” — but The Guardian checked the schedule for March 1, when the photo was taken, which refutes Rosendale’s account. Smart people don’t think they can get away with photos with Hitler-loving folks. But what do you expect from a guy who claimed he never used anyone’s name immediately after doing just that, violating House decorum rules?
In a lawsuit, Rosendale is accused of receiving nearly $400,000 from the NRA in a coordinated campaign that was never reported — all illegal. Rosendale’s lawyers do not contest the accusation. How can they, as he publicly announced in July 2018 that he and the NRA were going to do that very thing in 2018? Instead, the lawyers claim the plaintiffs don’t have standing because Rosendale didn’t commit the same crime in 2020 and 2022. I could not make this stuff up.
Rosendale also tried to claim Yellowstone National Park for Montana, although only a 4% of the park lies outside Wyoming. Does this claim bring anything to Montana? Only recognition for having a dumb, lying Congress member.
#7 – Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
U.S. Representative Paul Gosar is best known for helping plan and foment the Jan. 6 coup attempt and terrorist attack. He promised the Jan. 6 insurrectionists that he’d get them onto “blanket pardons” to be issued by outgoing President Donald Trump. Now, thinking that Trump cared about anyone but himself is none too smart, but there are more blatant examples.
Gosar is also known as being that guy whose own family films television commercials for his opponent begging people not to vote for their brother. But that just makes you a jerk, not an idiot.
But make no mistake: Gosar’s plenty foolish. Gosar actually believed that, if a crowd attacked Capitol Hill, that the House Freedom Caucus could restore Trump to his throne. Knowing the military brass had already announced that they would never participate in a coup, why would you think that? He recorded a message — played at the rally preceding the Jan. 6 riot — in which he credited himself as organizing the Jan. 6 insurrection. Yes, openly admitting to insurrection and treason is always a wise move! He later tried to backpedal but we’ve got his own words. Kind of dumb to try to deny it.
Described by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as having “nothing but tumbleweeds up there” in his brain, Gosar has done yeoman’s work in proving AOC right. Gosar appeared at a white nationalists’ conference before claiming he opposed white supremacy. Really? So why were you there? And why did you defend the conference’s organizer, neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes? And why is there a neo-Nazi on your staff? And why do you keep promoting websites that laud Adolph Hitler and traffic in Holocaust denialism?
You don’t have to take my word or AOC’s for it. When a veteran Republican strategist, Mike Murphy, says, “[Gosar has] got an IQ in the 30s. He's a moron,” I listen.
#6 – Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas)
Hoowee! Congressman Chip Roy sure packs a lot of stupidity under his cowboy hat! How dumb is Chip Roy? The San Antonio Current had an actual headline that read: “San Antonio-Austin Congressman Chip Roy Just Can’t Stop Saying Stupid Shit.” Now that’s a definite dummy! The article in question noted that Roy was comparing vaccine requirements to Nazism. As he said on right-wing extremist Mark Levin’s radio show in April 2020:
We need more of that, we need more rational human beings that are going to step back and say ‘No, this isn’t a police state, this isn’t Nazi Germany, this isn’t Russia, we aren’t going to do that. What we are going to do is have more commonsense discussions about what you can do to make things.’
You’d think that taking precautions that would have kept an extra 300,000 Americans from dying during the coronavirus pandemic would be common sense, but I guess not.
This man of the people has even defended lynching — something even prime racists Senator Tommy Tuberville and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene know better than to do.
#5 – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee)
What can you say about a woman who has a Facebook page dedicated to her called “Marsha Blackburn is an idiot”? Senator Marsha Blackburn earns that honor on the regular. Why, she’s even been mocked on Saturday Night Live!
Last year Blackburn credited Trump with 2020’s low gas prices, which Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez correctly pointed out were actually due to a worldwide pandemic and the ensuing shutdowns. But Congressman Chris Murphy had the best take on this: “Yes! Low gas prices was a nice upside consequence of the cataclysmic 2020 economic meltdown where 20% of Americans had no job, all the stores were closed, and 380,000 of us died.”
Blackburn spent her time for questioning future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson by asking her to define what a woman is and to speak to all the latest culture-war outrages. Why would defining what a woman is be relevant for a Supreme Court justice unless actress Cecily Strong, who portrayed Marsha Blackburn on Saturday Night Live, is right: “If you don't know what a woman is, how the hell you gonna take her rights away?”
Like so many Republicans, American history is not Blackburn’s strong suit. She tweeted: “The Constitution grants us rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — not abortions.” Actually, those words are in the Declaration of Independence, so none of that is guaranteed. As Fred Guttenberg, father of a girl slain in the Parkland shooting, pointed out in a tweet, “‘The Constitution grants us rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness:’ — unless you are shot & killed because of people like Marsha Blackburn. My LIVING daughter once had rights to life, liberty, & pursuit of happiness.”
In pursuit of her anti-immigrant campaign, Blackburn tweeted in April 2022 that “Tennesseans want a wall on our southern border.” Hilarity ensued. Queerty’s Dan Tracer quipped: “You know, to keep all those folks from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina from storming Dollywood.” Curmudgeonly pundit Keith Olbermann echoed the sentiment: “YOUR southern border is with Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, MORON.” Writer Molly Jong-Fast dubbed Blackburn the “Louie Gohmert of the Senate.” Snap!
In the wake of a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, Blackburn told CNN that the United States should have passed SOPA previously to prevent the attack. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, which dealt exclusively with online piracy. As Gizmodo writer Rhett Jones noted, “How is SOPA related to the wave of large-scale distributed denial of service attacks on the servers of the DNS host Dyn? I really can’t tell you.” Jones added: The tech-illiterate Blackburn “is one of the people who oversees communications and technology policy for what is arguably the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. Putin just breathed a sigh of relief.”
Blackburn has also claimed that women don’t want equal pay, claimed that Americans would never rewrite the Constitution (we’ve only done it 27 times), denied that there was ever a version of the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts under then-Governor Mitt Romney, and nursed a grievance for years against pop princess Taylor Swift because Swift had said in 2018 that she’d not vote for Blackburn. Because that’s what grownups do.
Blackburn claimed that Christians are persecuted in the United States, but then couldn’t provide a single example. Appearing only on Fox News, where Republicans never face pushback, can make you dumber. Blackburn, who has been frequently heckled at her own town hall meetings, claimed on CNN that these were agitators from outside her district; Wolf Blitzer quickly debunked her.
Facebook is right: Blackburn is an idiot!
#4 – Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia)
What is there to say about the QAnon-curious Queen of the Jewish space lasers? That Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene believes prominent Democratic election officials and FBI agents deserve the death penalty? That she claimed the Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Highland Park shootings were so-called false-flag operations? (You know, the same kind of crap that got Alex Jones fined more than $1 billion.) That she believes straight people will go extinct? That she thought Gestapo was Gazpacho? That she doesn’t understand the purpose of history class is to know things that occurred before your birth? That she compared Parkland survivor David Hogg, whom she harassed, to Hitler? (Wouldn’t a fascist like her be all about Hogg if he really were like Hitler? Just sayin’.)
But you know what’s the cherry on top for this stupidity sundae? Greene accidentally recorded an ad for Joe Biden while she was denigrating Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Hilarious!
#3 – Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin)
I have the greatest respect for Late Show host Stephen Colbert. I agree with him that Senator Ron Johnson is incredibly stupid; however, he is not “the dumbest person ever to sit in the United States Senate.” (I’ll reveal who is presently.) Granted, The (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times has dubbed Johnson “the most slow-witted member of the ‘Republican wave’ class of 2010,” but he’s merely the third-dumbest member of the 118th Congress. (The competition is stiff!)
Johnson believes it’s possible that the COVID-19 vaccine gave recipients “vaccine-induced” AIDS. An anti-vaxxer of the crankiest sort, he openly wondered, “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?” As a breast-cancer survivor, I think I can answer that one. So can all of the billions of people worldwide who didn’t get polio, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, dengue fever, tetanus, or mumps because of vaccines. And all of the preemies who survive due to advances in neonatal medicine.
Wisconsin’s Most Witless Elected Official claimed that he was “set up” by the FBI with “a corrupt briefing” that somehow led to him being a Russian dupe. (Hey, I don’t understand what he’s talking about, either.) He steadfastly holds that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election, so maybe he’s blaming the FBI for his being a useful idiot who parrots Russian misinformation and propaganda? Who can say?
In 2010, Johnson stated that he did not support gun “licenses,” just gun “permits” — as if there’s a difference.
Like all fools, Johnson buys into Trump’s Big Lie. Consequently, Johnson is up to his armpits in the fake-electors scheme. During questioning, he pretended to be on his cellphone while he was in plain sight so that reporters could see he was lying. He was ridiculed for that to no end.
Johnson isn’t astute enough to dog-whistle his racist appeals. He proclaimed that he felt safe with the MAGA mob, but that had Black Lives Matter protesters stormed the Capitol instead, he would have been frightened.
“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” he said on right-wing talk radio.
Right. The people who wanted to hang Mike Pence, kill then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and rape and murder Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are fine people who merely injured 150 police officers. The definition of never doing anything to break the law. Who ya gonna believe? Ron Johnson, or your own two eyes?
Johnson’s no stranger to racist comments. He also referred to Milwaukee Public Schools students as “those idiot inner-city kids.” While Johnson is an expert on stupidity, he’s wrong about this and racist to boot.
#2 – Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)
I know, I know! You thought she’d be the dumbest creature in Congress. But, no! And she’s even dumber than MTG. There! I said what I said!
A lot about Boebert can be explained by the fact that She. Cannot. Do. Math. At all. La Boebert actually said that, when faced with a one-month prescription for birth control pills, she decided it would cost more than bearing and raising a child, so she went without and gave birth to her third son in a car. I couldn’t find the price of birth control pills in 2008, when that third son, Kaydon, was conceived, but it’s $50 or less today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the average cost of raising a child like Kaydon, born in 2009, to adulthood would be between $205, 960 and $475,680. But a moderately intelligent person would realize that without consulting the USDA, wouldn’t they?
She also boasted that her eldest son Tyler, the son of a teenager who had to drop out of high school because of a premarital pregnancy, was himself now a teen soon-to-be dad. (Now 18, Tyler was 17 at the time Boebert announced that he and his very young girlfriend due to have a baby in April 2023. They had a baby boy.) Nice coming from a woman who’s always judging others’ morality.
This self-described super-Christian could not distinguish between wanton and wonton. (Wanton shows up pretty often in the Bible, as those who actually read it could tell you.) She and Greene got into a middle-school catfight over who should get the credit for an impeachment bill guaranteed to go nowhere.
Marjorie Traitor Greene’s one-time frenemy-turned-outright-enemy lamented that there weren’t more guns in America; never mind that, if more guns were the answer, we’d be the safest nation on earth. (The United States already has more guns than people.)
I don’t want to belabor Boebert’s stupidity any longer, so I’ll just point out that Boebert’s stupidity comes in many flavors: racist-tinged, innumerate, anti-trans, and illiterate. (In the latter, she inadvertently also points out that in America dogs fare better than children.) Way to go!
And #1 – Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.)
If you were to open the dictionary to the word dumb, there would be a photo of the former Auburn coach in his full ignoramus glory. How dumb is Tommy Tuberville? Of course, Tuberville’s been lately in the news for not knowing the definition of white nationalist and taking several days to figure it out. The cherry on top is that Tuberville brought out the old chestnut that he can’t be racist because some of his best players were Black. Nice touch, Coach!
But that’s not close to the dumbest thing Tuberville has ever done as a politician. That would be buying into The Big Lie. But there’s more! Tuberville hadn’t even taken his seat yet before he revealed that he couldn’t name the three branches of government (something a third-grader could tell you), didn’t know the cause of World War II (something a seventh-grader could tell you), and didn’t know that Vice President Al Gore never served as president (which anyone could tell you). That’s definitely an imbecile trifecta if there ever was one.
But the list of inanities goes on and on. Tuberville’s so dumb that he’s blocking promotions for all the branches of the military because he’s mad about the Department of Defense’s abortion policy, greatly weakening the military. That means the U.S. Marine Corps lacks a confirmed commandant for the first time in 164 years. And just to prove he knows nothing about the military, he confused the Bronze service medal with the Bronze Star (very different medals) when lauding his father, a World War II veteran. The latter is for someone who “distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service”; the former is one of the Army’s “I was there” medals, given to those who participated in a battle, whether on the front lines or rear. Tuberville also claims that his dad, effectively a corporal, was a tank commander at D-Day. Needless to say, not so much.
Did you know that any teacher who takes a job in the inner city (you know, teaching you-know-who) are so stupid that one wonders how they got their own degrees. (Funny, I was wondering how Arkansas native Tuberville was ever graduated from Southern Arkansas University (then Southern State College) even considering that his 1976 degree was in physical education. His own home-state newspaper dubbed him a “notorious dummy.”)
Last fall Tuberville stated that “they” want crime: “they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have.” What? First of all, who is they? Democrats? Or Black and Brown people? Or both? Cranking up his usual racism loudspeaker, Tuberville blamed Blacks for crime, even though Whites commit 70% of all crimes. Second of all, Senator Tuberville, how would that takeover process work? The United States suffered a crime spree in the 1990s, and somehow the rich and middle class kept their property; indeed, the top 1% widened the gap between rich and poor. Third of all, nice talk from a man who made $25 million off of the Black players he exploited.
Tuberville’s so dumb that his official portrait has him holding a football. (I couldn’t make this up.) Great way to highlight that you’re a one-trick pony, Coach!
If you don’t think that members of Congress have been getting progressively stupider, all you have to do is peruse the list that the inestimable Ken Silverstein and Steve Brodner compiled in 1995. None of those low-wattage bulbs except then-Congressman Jon Christensen of Nebraska (in the No. 1 spot) would even make this list.