Politics attracts a certain kind of person. You need a thick skin, a desire for attention, and nearly inexhaustible energy. Basically, you need to be a schizophrenic. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that some legitimately insane people have entered the political realm. In this feature, we’ll share some of the kookiest loons to ever run for office, and some who actually got voted in
William Lyon MacKenzie King
Even Canada has their share of crazies, and William Lyon MacKenzie King might be the most successful goofball politician of all time. King was Prime Minister of our neighbor to the north for three separate terms, more than any other Canadian in history. He also believed that he could talk to dead people, and he had a series of Irish terrier dogs throughout his life, all of whom were named Pat (with the exception of one, who was named Bob, and nobody knows why). He’d even cancel Cabinet meetings to have quality time with his dogs. King was also obsessed with his late mother, and he believed that she would be reincarnated as a bird and come live with him again.
Oh, Vermin Love Supreme. The Boston-born artist has been involved in the political process since 1988, running for such disparate offices as Mayor of Baltimore and President of the United States. His unforgettable appearance (which includes wearing a boot on his head) and absurd campaign promises (increased funding for time travel, passing a law to require all U.S. citizens to brush their teeth, free pony for everyone) have made him an Internet favorite. He has no chance in hell of ever being elected to anything, though.
One of the most notoriously corrupt and ridiculous politicians of all time, Ohio Congressman James Traficant flamed out in spectacular fashion. The big-haired pol’s website prominently featured a picture of him swinging a 2x4, and he would often end speeches with “Beam Me Up.” He also was sent to prison for seven years for taking campaign money for personal use. He then tried to run from prison for his old seat as an independent. Since being released, he’s transformed into a full-fledged conspiracy nut, claiming to have facts about the JFK assassination, Waco and 9/11 that the government doesn’t want you to know.
Being crazy doesn’t mean you can’t be an effective politician. Alaska Senator Mike Gravel was a staunch opponent of the draft during the Vietnam War and helped expose corruption in the government. That doesn’t make him any less bizarre, though. After leaving politics for several decades, Gravel returned as a seriously dark-horse candidate in the 2008 Presidential election, releasing bizarre, surreal campaign videos that featured his weathered face staring into a fire or throwing a huge rock into a lake.
One of the craziest people to ever run for Governor, Neal Horsley mounted a quixotic campaign for the top job in Georgia, promising to secede the state from the Union if elected. In response to a question about what he would do if his son, a Sergeant in the Army, was sent to prevent succession, Horsley calmly said that he’d kill his own kid. His other moments include admitting that he practiced bestiality as a kid (on Fox News, nonetheless) and being arrested for protesting outside Elton John’s house with a sign reading “Elton John Must Die.”
Let’s move over to Japan for this next entry. This is the nation that elected a masked wrestler known as the Great Sasuke to the Diet, their version of Parliament. And yet, Toyama Koichi has so far been too weird to win an election there. The perennial candidate has run for governor of Tokyo since 2007 on a platform of how bad Japan sucks. His speeches are some of the most bizarre things you’ll ever watch, as he curses out his homeland and flips the bird at the camera to drive his point home. He also wanted to run for President of the U.S., claiming that the rest of the world is part of American hegemony and should be considered the 51st state.
The 2010 midterm elections brought a lot of interesting personalities to the fore, but none shone quite so weirdly as Tennessee’s Basil Marceaux. He had a campaign platform that included promising immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for votes, forbidding cops from charging suspects with anything but traffic violations, and more lunacy. Having only three teeth made it that much harder for Marceaux to get his message across, and he finished with barely 1 percent of the vote.
To run for office in Texas, you need to be a little beyond the pale, but Senate candidate Larry Kilgore pushed the envelope farther than normal. Kilgore’s primary platform during his 2008 run was nothing less than making the entire state secede from the United States. In addition, in the new independent Texas, women who have abortions will be executed, all public schools will be closed down, and life will just be awesome.
Former Major League Baseball player turned politician doesn’t make you think “crazy” right off the bat, but Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning blew a few gaskets during his time in office. Bunning seemed normal at first, but went heavily off the rails during his 2004 campaign, at one point agreeing to a televised debate with opponent Daniel Mongiardo, but refusing to meet him in person and demanding to use a teleprompter. For a debate. Things got even weirder when he claimed that Mongiardo paid people to beat up his wife at a picnic. And then he started to rant about “little green men” following him around, which is about when Bunning decided to retire from politics permanently.
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Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey
Several-time Presidential candidate Jonathon Sharkey has thrown his hat into the ring representing the “Vampires, Witches And Pagans Party” on several occasions since 2004. Sharkey’s platform is very tough on crime -- he believes that the prison system should be abolished and crooks should be tortured and impaled -- but supports protecting the environment because it pleases the goddess Hecate. And did we mention that he’s a vampire who drinks the blood of his girlfriends a few times a week? In addition to running for America’s top job, he’s also unsuccessfully contended for the governorship of Michigan.