Cutest Couple, Class Clown and a Competitive Year for D.C. Superlatives

Cutest Couple, Class Clown and a Competitive Year for D.C.
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Cutest Couple, Class Clown and a Competitive Year for D.C. Superlatives

The year’s best, worst and weirdest political operatives.

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

  • Dec. 29, 2020, 8:28 p.m. ET
Credit…Illustration by Michael Houtz

This year was a soul-crushing hellscape of a dumpster fire. For sanity’s sake, large chunks of it should be repressed as soon as possible.

The rolling crises did, however, have a clarifying effect on the political scene. Some players rose to meet the moment. Others sank, and there was no bottom. This sorting should be remembered, especially as many of these public eminences begin scurrying to rehabilitate their brands. Their 2020 achievements, such as they were, should be memorialized with superlatives that capture who they revealed themselves to be. Think high school yearbook distinctions, only with real-world implications.

Don’t look for President Trump on this list. In a class by himself, he was deemed ineligible for consideration. The competition would have been grossly unfair with such a dominant force. As for the rest of the swamp …

Most Committed Bootlicker
Senator Lindsey Graham
This was a hotly contested category, but at the end of the day, no one could outdo the South Carolina Republican.

Most Inauthentic
Senator Kelly Loeffler
Talk about a total makeover: The Georgia Republican, appointed to her seat last December, morphed from posh, moderate, mainstream suburban-mom bait to bomb-throwing, ball-cap-wearing, right-wing culture warrior faster than you can say “political opportunism.”

Class Clown
Rudy Giuliani
The early Trump years had already shifted Rudy’s identity from America’s Mayor to the president’s unhinged apparatchik. But 2020 was when he totally lost the thread, devolving into numerous cautionary tales and internet memes. There was his runny hair dye. (Or was it mascara?) The time he “tucked in his shirt” for Borat’s daughter. The Four Seasons Total Landscaping news conference held near a porn shop and a crematory. The fart. (Go on. Google it.) 2021 can’t come soon enough.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Back in January, who could have predicted that one of the year’s biggest heartthrobs would be an 80-year-old government immunologist?

Senator Susan Collins
Whatever the occasion, the Maine Republican can be counted on to express her deep yet meaningless concern.

Cutest Couple
Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin
The House speaker and the Treasury secretary spent so much time and energy hammering out Covid relief deals. Most marriages don’t require that much work.

Most Disappointing
Representative Elise Stefanik
Since her 2014 election, the New York Republican had pitched herself as the sane, moderate future of her party, with a special focus on improving its reputation with women. So it’s been particularly galling to watch her carry water for the most antidemocratic, misogynistic president in memory.

Most Disappointed
Senator Elizabeth Warren
After so much promise and so many plans, the Massachusetts Democrat didn’t win even the progressive wing of her party, which went for Uncle Bernie.

Largest Invertebrate
Basically the entire Senate Republican conference

Most Likely to Sell His Soul for More Power
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell
Kidding, of course. He made that transaction ages ago.

Biggest Tease
John Bolton, former national security adviser
All that bragging about insider secrets just to hawk a book. He should have testified in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Most Likely to Succeed
Pete Buttigieg
If anyone can make Infrastructure Week really happen, it will be President-elect Joe Biden’s overachieving, wonk-chic pick to head the Transportation Department.

Most Likely to Stage a Failed Coup Attempt
Representative Louie Gohmert
Suing Vice President Mike Pence in a convoluted, last-ditch effort to overturn the election results and keep Mr. Trump in office? That’s some next-level sycophancy.

Best Napper
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Most Likely to End Up on ‘Dancing With the Stars’
Kimberly Guilfoyle
Warning: Might not be suitable for children.

Most Clutch Player
Representative Jim Clyburn
It is barely an exaggeration to say that Mr. Biden owes his presidency to the well-timed endorsement from the dean of South Carolina Democratic politics.

Most Likely to Be the Next ‘Tiger King’
Representative Matt Gaetz
With or without his gas mask, the Trump wannabe is the ultimate Florida Man.

Most Persistent
Joe Biden
It took a once-in-a-century pandemic and the most appalling incumbent in history, but he finally won the office he’d been eyeing for more than three decades.

Most Obviously Auditioning to Be a Fox News Host
A tossup.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, has the edge when it comes to execution, but Jenna Ellis, one of the president’s lawyers, gets points for trying so hard.

Most Likely to Be a Character on ‘Succession’
Steven Mnuchin
This hopefully will not conflict with his true calling as the next Bond villain.

Most Corrupt
A 20-to-30-way tie
With this administration, the category was impossible to whittle down.

Best Team Player
Senator Bernie Sanders
The Vermont lefty may be shouty and crabby, but he recognized that unifying Democratic voters swiftly and with minimal squabbling was key to saving the nation from a second Trump term.

Most Degraded
Mike Pence
It was bad enough when he was on track to be remembered for his dead-on imitation of flypaper. But now, after four years of thankless obsequiousness, he’s being dragged into Trumpworld’s crackpot crusade to overturn the election results. The Constitution tasks the vice president with presiding over Congress’s counting of the Electoral College votes. MAGA types are pressuring him to hand Mr. Trump the win. The V.P. is looking at a rough January.

Biggest Threat to American Democracy
Attorney General Bill Barr
This is what happens when the nation’s top law enforcement official puts his boss’s individual interests above the rule of law.

In for the Rudest Awakening
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have had loads of fun playing at government and diplomacy while shielded from any real accountability. Post-presidency, their lives will likely get more complicated — socially, politically and perhaps even legally.

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