Turkeys of the Year

In a highly competitive 2009 field, Governor Rick Perry is the biggest gobbler of them all.

No. Instead she came carrying a Congressional resolution, framed and doomed to fail in everything but getting her in front of the cameras, which is all that really mattered anyway.

"I'm Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and I come from Houston, Texas," she announced to the worldwide television audience, and Houston either blanched in horror at being connected to her or sat back to enjoy what was to come.

How did she do? Luckily, this modern age of Web sites fighting for clicks means that there were tons of media outlets and observers out there liveblogging every minute of it.

Communicating with players was never a Cecil Cooper specialty.
Chad Crowe
Communicating with players was never a Cecil Cooper specialty.
Financial mastermind Stanford is now getting in prison fights over who can use the phone.
Chad Crowe
Financial mastermind Stanford is now getting in prison fights over who can use the phone.

The results were not pretty. Most major papers, like The New York Times, or papers in England, played it relatively straight while subtly raising an eyebrow about Jackson Lee in her ostentatious white dress and defense of the singer against his odd history with kids. Others found it harder to hold back:

The Chicago Sun-Times: "2:05 Central: Like so many politicians, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is talking a lot — a whole lot — but she's really not saying anything."

The Hollywood Reporter: "12:05 a.m.: A pissed-off sounding representative from Houston, Sheila Jackson Lee, defensively declares that people are considered innocent until proven otherwise...Then notes that 'we have introduced into the House of Representatives this Resolution 600 that will be debated on the floor of the House that claims Michael Jackson as a legend and a musical icon, a world humanitarian' — and, in a The Shining-like turn of phrase — 'someone who will be honored forever, and forever, and forever, and forever and forever.'"

Macleans magazine, Canada: "2:59 p.m.: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaks on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives, proclaims Jackson's innocence. Glad we've got that settled.

"3:02 p.m.: The congresswoman recalls Jackson lobbying the ambassadors of various African nations. 'He had a twinkle.'

"3:03 p.m.: Apparently Congress is going to debate a resolution that Jackson was 'an American legend and musical icon and world humanitarian.' That should be fun and productive."

Heartless Doll blog: "3:03 p.m.: This is turning into creepy pedo vindication hour. Can we go back to talking about his music, please?

"3:07 p.m.: She seriously just saluted his coffin. Usher's next!"

Starpulse entertainment blog: "3:00 p.m.: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston, Texas, is now speaking. Sure, why not?

"3:01 p.m.: She just clarified that people are 'innocent until proven otherwise.' Appropriate?

"3:05 p.m.: What is longer: Sheila Jackson Lee's speech or Federer v. Roddick Wimbledon Finals 2009?"

Movieline: "12:03: Texas Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee recalls the time Michael greeted African ambassadors to discuss AIDS prevention, and emanated an unmistakable 'twinkle.'"

What? The Sheila magic didn't translate?

Somewhere in the eight-minute oration, Jackson Lee uttered the following sentence. And we're not taking it out of context: It was preceded by a sentence talking about how the Jackson family had taken their God-given talent and turned it into "a wonderful story for America," and it was followed by a sentence saying, "Michael fought for tolerance."

In between came this:

"I come today for you to recognize that the flag flies and the people who have spoken have spoken to the people's house — they recognize and they speak and those of us who serve in elected office, we respond to the people."

No arguing with that.

Jackson Lee's performance brought forth Houstonians who seemed determined to let the world know, "Hey, don't blame us. Please."

Said one commenter to Salon: "Nonprofits around Houston practically have to bar the doors at charity events from her staff members who arrive, without invitation and without having RSPV'd, bearing a proclamation supporting the event (or the chair, or the honoree or the nonprofit) and expecting to be seated for dinner. Everyone dreads it, but no one dares tell them no."

Oh, Sheila. Once you were ours. Now you are the world's.

Turkey Who Just Won't Go Away:
Tom DeLay

We really thought we could get away without giving an award to Tom DeLay this year. After all, he was long gone from politics, except for an occasional appearance on whatever Fox shoutfest suddenly had a guest fall through.

But the lack of the spotlight proved unbearable for The Hammer, and he forced his way back into our consciousness in the most dignifed manner possible: By appearing on Dancing with the Stars.

By doing so, he joined such illustrious guests as Drew Lachey, Clyde Drexler and Kelly Osbourne.

We could not, as it turns out, bring ourselves to watch a single episode of this debacle. Luckily, we know someone who did watch, someone uniquely qualified to judge the horror.

Bert Woodall not only tracked the political rise of Tom DeLay from his perch as publisher of the defunct Public News; he has since taken up ballroom dancing in his new home of Arizona.

So we asked him his thoughts.

For a few brief moments that seemed so much longer, TV's Dancing with the Stars allowed Tom "The Hammer" DeLay to remind Texans that a few decades ago, he infested Austin as the leisure-suited libertine legislator and party boy known as Hot Tub Tom.

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