TPM has its Mad Magazine moment. The 2019 Golden Duke Winners!

Here is a little humor to start off the New Year. Susie Bright’s takedown of Lindsey Graham is a Classic.


By Talia Lavin, Jim Newell, Jeet Heer, Erin Gloria Ryan and Susie Bright

Talking Points Memo 12.30.2019

Hear ye, hear ye! After much deliberation by our esteemed judges, it’s time to recognize our 2019 Golden Duke winners.

Ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), the namesake of our annual awards, got himself locked up in prison for eight years after taking some $2.4 million in bribes. Six years after his release in 2013, we here at TPM continue to honor his legacy by highlighting the year’s most ridiculous figures and fiascos in the political world — a deeply competitive field that only seems to grow more bloated every passing year.

First, a round of applause for our amazing panel of judges: Erin Ryan, Talia Lavin, Susie Bright, Jeet Heer, Jim Newell, and the 2,477 TPM members who cast their ballots. They had the herculean task of choosing this year’s champions of absurdity, which was no small feat in a year of impeachment investigations, lawsuits against fake cows on Twitter, and conspiracy theories about Elizabeth Warren’s alleged 24-year-old Marine boy toy.

And let’s have a second round of applause for the nominees who failed to take home the gold despite the truly impressive stains they left on modern American politics. There’s always next year!


Most Valiant Trump Defender

The award goes to: Sen. Lindsey Graham!
(with 4 out of 6 votes)

Talia Lavin’s choice: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Not only is he suing a fictional cow, he is decidedly not cowed in his bullish attempts to defend an embattled president. He constantly looks both confused and enraged, and proved interesting enough to force Ryan Lizza to drive through cow country.

Jim Newell’s choice: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Tough competition between him and Graham, as both enthusiastically and energetically leap before cameras to defend Our President. But Graham — SHAME ON HIM — occasionally breaks from character and will chastise the president for, say, announcing a swift removal of troops from Syria because the Turkish president was nice to him on the telephone. A stain on your legacy, Mr. Graham! Jordan, meanwhile, served valiantly on both the Intel and Judiciary Committees, sitting in nearly every deposition and running the show behind the scenes during public hearings. It is he, Jim Jordan, who deserves the annual Presidential Belly Rub for Good Service.

Lindsey Graham I 1.1.2020
Jeet Heer’s choice: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Nearly the entire GOP has debased itself for Trump, but Graham remains the champ chump because of his history and self-regard. We all remember Lindsey as one of the Wise Men, best buddies with John McCain, the voice of conscience and foreign policy gravitas. He went out of his way to be the defining senatorial voice of Never Trump in 2016. This makes his transformation into a lap dog all the more stunning.

Erin Gloria Ryan’s choice: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Lindsey Graham will go down in history as a bowl of cold boogers. When I’m working out and I feel like quitting, I remind myself that if I keep taking care of my body and brain, I can long outlive Lindsey Graham and use my extra golden years energy to remind future generations how much he sucked. In the meantime, I hope John McCain’s ghost, when he’s ready, haunts the hell out of him.

Susie Bright’s choice: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

The sloppiest wet dream all year has been speculating what kind of kompromat Trump has on South Carolina’s most legendary closet case. It must be spectacular. Could anyone be THIS craven without cause? Which closet, you ask? Honey, there’s so many to choose from. What’s unique about Graham is that while Trump only humiliates him for his fealty, Linds just keeps popping back up, like a Gothic Plot Twist. He is going to keep on the Sunny Side! He is going to brag about buying a cute rug in Afghanistan for $5! He is not changing his mind about impeachment and he’s going to spread it on a cracker! No one has ever been more dead inside.

Members’ choice: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)