By Ann Wood
What do Gov. Paul LePage, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford have in common? They are among the politicians journalist-author Brian O’Connell considers “downright dangerous leaders, as well as just plain stupid lawmakers from around the world,” and are featured in his new book, “The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 More of the World’s Craziest Politicians.”
LePage was included in the book well before last week’s allegation that he said state lawmakers should be “rounded up and executed in the public square.” That’s because LePage has said outlandish things for years.
O’Connell, an American journalist who worked throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East and now lives in England, said by phone that he originally wanted the book to be solely about crazy American politicians — because there are plenty of them — but United Kingdom publisher Myrmidon Books wanted more.
“There was no scientific method to it,” O’Connell says about choosing the 300 craziest leaders, adding that his journalist friends world-wide contributed to the list.
There’s a long pause while O’Connell thinks about who might be the craziest American politician before he says Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern.
“She’s openly racist. Which you can’t really do in the world anymore, can you,” he says, adding that Kerns believes homosexuality is worse than a potential terrorist attack.
“Kern thinks homosexuality is like a cancer spreading rapidly from shore-to-shore in the U.S. and it ‘will destroy our young people,’” the book reads.
But, O’Connell says, LePage is up there at the top of the list of crazy Americans and he credits rural Maine for electing the “hog crazy” governor.
“I’d say LePage ranks right up there. I’d put him in the top five,” he says, and in the book lists him as the third nuttiest American. “He’s weird enough to make the European paper.”
O’Connell says that what makes LePage and other leaders seem crazy is that they say what’s on their minds without thinking, without taking the advice of advisers.
“The governor of Maine is certainly about as far out there as he can be and has been described as the craziest of all 50 governors in the U.S.,” he writes in the book. “He compares the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo and predicted that Obamacare would bring on the holocaust. He said President Obama hates white people and famously told him he could ‘go to hell’ in a campaign speech.”
British caricaturist Norm Chung has a field day in the 312-page softback. He’s got LePage standing in front of an Obama poster, on which he’s drawn devil horns with a red marker. Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who had public substance abuse problems and was inappropriate with women, is shown with a crack pipe in one hand, a liquor bottle in another, smoke coming from his ears and his belly sticking out. Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., has got a halo over her head, a cross in one hand and the Bible in another — though O’Connell writes that she’s no angel.
“’What a bizarre time we’re in,’” he quotes Bachman as saying. “‘When a judge will say to little children that you can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it.’”
Though he admits he’s a liberal, Democrats aren’t spared from O’Connell’s ridicule. Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is blasted for believing in aliens and saying he spotted a UFO. And then there’s former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry.
“In 1990, when he was mayor of Washington, the FBI filmed him secretly in a room in the Vista Hotel and recorded him smoking a crack pipe with his girlfriend,” O’Connell writes. “He was put on trial for that and sentenced to prison but in his new book claims he never smoked crack. Ever.”
The craziest of the crazy isn’t, as many might suppose, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (who is reportedly angry about the book’s publication, which says he thinks long hair is bad for people “because it deprives the brain of energy and therefore harms intelligence…”). O’Connell saves the top honor for Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, vice chair of Duma.
“(He) ran for Prime Minister in 1993 promising free vodka for men and better knickers for women,” the book reads. “According to the Mirror, when asked a relatively softball question about the Ukraine crisis from Stella Dubovitskaya of the state owned news outlet, Russia Today, Zhirinovsky physically pushed two male aides towards her and told them to ‘rape the woman hard.’”
The Russians and the Americans are the most outlandish politicians in the world, O’Connell says, though he continues to be astonished at Maine’s choice for governor.
“(LePage) prefers private education over state funded education, famously saying: ‘If you want a good education, go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck: you can go to the public school,’” the book reads. “He told the NAACP to kiss his butt when they invited him to breakfast for Martin Luther King Day.”
There’s one thing for sure, while LePage is in office, O’Connell will continue to have plenty to write about.
“The Fat Boy with the Bomb” can be purchased at www.amazon.com/Fat-Bomb-Worlds-Craziest-Politicians/dp/1910183091/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435580572&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fat+boy+with+the+bomb.