Few people will shed a tear when the 112th Congress officially comes to a close on Thursday. This has been one of the least productive sessions since the 1940s, and in the past two years, Congress has presided over a number of self-imposed fiscal debacles. Still, there are some departing members of the 112th Congress who deserve our recognition. Some are ending a decades-long career of public service, while others have managed to distinguish themselves in a few short years, mainly by espousing questionable medical facts and claiming that communists have infiltrated our government. Today we say so long, but not goodbye — surely at least half of them will have a regular cable news gig within the year.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Reason for Departure: Mack, the only female Republican in California's delegation, was defeated by Democrat Dr. Raul Ruiz. Memorable Moments: Mack has served in the House since taking over husband Sonny Bono's seat following his death in 1998. She's currently married to Republicans Florida Rep. Connie Mack, who also lost his seat in November. In 2011 she added a vaguely sexual photo scandal to her resume when pictures surfaced of a female campaign donor licking her breast at a surprisingly debaucherous Republican fund-raiser.
Rep. Joe Walsh
Reason for Departure: The Illinois Republican was defeated by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in an RPG attack. Memorable Moments: Walsh screamed at constituents during a casual campaign event, explaining later that he threw a tantrum because he was hungry. He went on to complain that Duckworth talked about her military service too much, presumably because he'd skipped nap time. In the final weeks of the campaign, Walsh explained that "With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," when an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, despite what you may have heard from medical experts.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Reason for Departure: After serving in the House since 1997, Kucinich was pitted against fellow representative Marcy Kaptur in the 2012 Democratic primary due to redistricting. After losing the race Kucinich decided to retire. Memorable Moments: Kucinich ran for president in 2004 and 2008, solidifying his reputation as one of the zanier figures on the left. He tried impeach President George W. Bush and suggested President Obama committed an impeachable offense by authorizing attacks in Libya. In his spare time the elfin representative spotted a UFO with Shirley MacLaine and sued a Capitol Hill cafeteria after splitting his tooth on an olive pit in a sandwich wrap. As many sexist profiles have pointed out, though Kucinich lost his spot in Congress, he's already won at life because he's married to a statuesque redhead.
Rep. Ron Paul
Reason for Departure: After 24 years in the House, Paul announced that he would concentrate on his presidential campaign and not seek reelection to Congress. Memorable Moments: Paul ran for president in 1988, 2008, and 2012, though in the last election the media frequently forgot he was in the race. After Paul won 177 delegates, there was speculation that Paul would demand to make a speech and his supporters might disrupt the Republican National Convention. Ultimately, Paul declined an invitation to speak and some Paul backers walked out of the convention, though the GOP tried to placate them with a tribute video and a speech from his son, Sen. Rand Paul. Though Ron Paul refused to endorse another candidate after he suspended his campaign, the younger Paul declared he was pro-Romney, which probably led to some awkward moments over the holidays.
Rep. Mike Pence
Reason for Departure: After serving six terms in the House, Pence has been elected governor of Indiana. Memorable Moments: In June Pence compared the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Obamacare to 9/11. Amazingly, his remark wasn't the 9/11 of inappropriate 9/11 comparisons.
Sen. Jon Kyl
Reason for Departure: Kyl is retiring after three terms in the Senate. Memorable Moments: After claiming on the Senate floor that abortions account for "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," when it's actually only 3 percent, Kyl's office said the "remark was not intended to be a factual statement." Stephen Colbert responded by starting a meme, tweeting comments like “Jon Kyl thinks no one can see him when he puts a paper bag on his head #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement." The senator never learned his lesson about making ridiculous public statements, judging from the rape analogy he used to explain why the U.S. consulate in Libya was attacked.
Rep. Ben Quayle
Reason for Departure: As a result of redistricting, Quayle and fellow freshman Dave Schweikert faced off in Arizona's Sixth District. After beating Quayle in the Republican primary, Schweikert went on to win the seat. Memorable Moments: Apparently Quayle's opponents didn't consider the campaign ads in which he pretended to have kids and called Obama the "worst president in history," sufficiently damning, so they cut an ad reminding everyone that Quayle's dad spelled "potato" wrong 20 years ago.
Rep. Allen West
Reason for Departure: Democrat Patrick Murphy beat West by 2,456 votes, but the Florida congressman questioned the election results. After a recount determined that Murphy won by an even wider margin, West conceded on November 20. So basically, West lost because he gave up too easily. Memorable Moments: West called fellow Florida representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz "vile," "despicable," and "not a Lady," because she dared to criticize his stance on Medicare. It's not as crazy as it sounds when you consider that Wasserman Schultz might be one of the 78 to 81 House Democrats who are also members of the Communist Party.
Sen. Joe Lieberman
Reason for Departure: Lieberman is retiring after 24 years in the Senate. Memorable Moments: As Al Gore's running mate in 2000, Lieberman was the first Jewish American on a major party presidential ticket. He became an Independent after losing the Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006. Lieberman still caucuses with Democrats, but he irritated many members of his former party by endorsing John McCain for president in 2008 and speaking at the Republican National Convention. Lieberman was nearly selected as McCain's running mate, but for better or worse he failed to deprive the world of Sarah Palin.
Rep. Barney Frank
Reason for Departure: Frank decided to retire after serving in the House since 1987 and becoming the country's first openly gay congressman. In a characteristically Frank admission, he said he was stepping down because redistricting would have made it more difficult to win reelection and “I don’t like raising money.” Memorable Moments: Too many to count. Frank has the perfect crotchety quip for every occasion and his television appearances are always entertaining, from his admission that he's tried a pot brownie ("it made me sleepy), to the time he farted during an interview just to take America's mind off its troubles.
Rep. Scott Brown
Reason for Departure: Brown lost to Elizabeth Warren, though with John Kerry's seat opening up soon, Brown and his truck may be headed back to D.C. within the year. Memorable Moments: Brown declared in his 2010 acceptance speech that his daughters were "both available." He's also the only member of Congress who was once a Cosmo centerfold, as far as we know.
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