Assholes of the Week

*Barry Bonds, not for breaking Hank Aaron’s homerun record, but for using Viagra that same night as a performance enhancer.

*U.S. policy makers, for requiring organizations to take a pledge that explicitly condemns prostitution in order to receive funding for HIV prevention projects. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health have determined that such condemnation isn’t effective in helping to control the global epidemic. They reviewed scientific evidence on strategies that effectively reduce rates of HIV among sex workers, and found substantial evidence suggesting that their empowerment, organization and unionizaton can be an effective HIV prevention. Rappers will be invited to submit pro-ho songs to promote such efforts.

*Iran’s Press Review Board, for temporarily banning the country’s leading reformist newspaper, Shargh, which published an interview with an exiled poet, Saghi Ghahraman, famous for her explicit exploration of female sexuality. A Ministry of Culture official characterized her as “a counterrevolutionary figure known for promoting immoral issues.” In one of her poems, a girl makes love to her invalid grandmother. More than 100 Iranian newspapers have been shut down over the last several years, and journalists have been sentenced to prison for offenses including “propaganda against the regime” and insulting Iran’s supreme religious leader. Meanwhile, Ms. Ghahraman says she will appear on “The Daily Show” only if Jon Stewart promises not to interrupt her.

*Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson for saying, “It’s a choice,” when asked whether he believes people are born gay or if it’s a choice, and later weaseling out of his answer, but also the questioner, for perpetuating the notion that it should make any difference in sexual preference. What about bisexuals? Half-born and half-choice? Or transsexuals? Born as one gender physiologically but not psychologically, then choosing surgery to alter it? When it comes to abortion rights, nobody has to defend that position by saying that they were born with pro-choice tendencies.

*Republican candidate Mitt Romney, for defending his five sons’ decision not to enlist in the military by explaining that they’re showing their support for America by “helping me get elected.” His sons were all busy watching “Big Love” and had no comment; fortunately there was no draft in their living rooms.

*Loretta Sanchez, Orange County’s only Democratic member of Congress–although she voted against the war in 2002 and recently voted to begin pulling troops out within 90 days–for not supporting protesters, mostly members of Mililtary Families Speak Out, who want her to promise not to approve more funding for the war in Iraq. She said that the $145 billion was in the same bill that would provide money to build the C-17 aircraft, so “I’m not going to vote against $2.1 billion for C-17 production, which is in California. That is just not going to happen.” She was wearing a T-shirt proclaiming, “Constituents Uber Alles.”

*The government agencies that have allowed, by neglect, greed and corruption, this country’s infrastructure to crumble–exemplified by steam pipes in New York, a bridge in Minneapolis, the water system in New Orleans, a coal mine in Utah–while using American taxpayer money to deliberately destroy the infrastructure in Iraq, then using American taxpayer money to rebuild it. Welcome to the Age of Utter Insanity.

*Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil corporations, for, among others, funding research aimed at disputing the scientific consensus on global warming as part of a campaign to mislead the public. Under attack, the energy producers responded with Photoshop images of cavemen taking their pet dinosaurs for a walk.

*The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, for an 8-2 decision denying those who are dying the right to obtain unapproved drugs that are potentally life-saving, even if their doctors say the treatment offers their best hope for survival. There was one exception, for a mentally ill man who is thoroughly convinced that he’s a fetus.

*Health insurance companies, for not coverering newly recommended vaccines for children, reportedly putting more than a million kids at risk. Since free shots are available to children who are uninsured or qualify for public insurance, concerned parents are now wondering whether it would be a proactive step to cancel their policies.

*The two-party system, for carrying out partisanship to this extent: The renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expires on September 30, is viewed as the most important health coverage decision in Washington this year, but the California delegation split along party lines, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. Domestic terrorism in action.

*William Steiger–who has long ties to Bush and Cheney, and who, since 2001, has run the Office of Global Health Affairs, without any background or expertise in medicine or public health–for blocking a 2006 report describing the link between poverty and poor health, urging the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign polilcy, and calling on corporations to help improve health condition in the countries where they operate. Why? Because the report didn’t promote the administration’s policy accomplishments. When asked if he has seen “Sicko,” Steiger assumed it was a documentary about the missing Marx brother, Sicko Marx.


*California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, for decertifying the use of electronic voting machines in the presidential primaries to prevent hackers.

*U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, for banning the Navy from using high-powered sonar in training exercises because it could “cause irreparable harm to the environment.” She rejected the Navy’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council arguing for broader safeguards to protect marine mammals from powerful blasts of mid-frequency active sonar that have been linked to panicked behavior and mass die-offs of whales.

*Sean Penn, for replying, when asked if he wants the United States to win the war in Iraq, “I think we’re past that point in human evolution where there’s such a thing as winning wars.”

PAUL KRASSNER is the author of “One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist,” and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available at


Paul Krassner is the editor of The Realist