The DIDDLY Award

The Tom Cruise Award for most impressive media meltdown. And the nominees are?

Illustrations By: Peter Hoey (trophy) and Tom Bachtell

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Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) had to rebut a Roll Call story alleging that during a Republican delegation trip to Kazakhstan he was drunk the whole time, downing as many as 20 vodka shots before riding a horse, then falling off the horse, then getting his ribs broken after being trampled by another horse, and later making fun of the local attire by prancing about in a Conehead skit making alien beeping noises. Rehberg insisted to Roll Call that he’d had only “three or four” shots.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) showed his anti-sexual-disease slide show and Star Wars parody “Revenge of the STDs.” The audience, young Hill staffers, was warned about vivid close-ups of genital warts and other ravages of the groin. “Stop the STDs, we must,” said Yoda, on promo fliers. “Never underestimate the power of the STDs,” added Darth Vader.

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Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) reacted to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff’s correction regarding Koran abuse at Gitmo by ranting on the House floor: “America’s troops are in enough danger without self-righteous, yellow journalists like Michael Isikoff defaming them for a cheap headline.” Ney neglected to mention that Isikoff was also pursuing a story linking him to Jack Abramoff, whose money allegedly filled Ney’s campaign coffers.

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who, after thuggishly threatening the judges in the Terri Schiavo case — “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior” — soon found himself mentioned in an episode of Law & Order. When a judge gets murdered on the show, a police officer says, “Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt.”

WINNER! Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who brown-nosed his majority leader, DeLay, by outlining a counterstrategy after the Law & Order episode aired. According to a memo revealed by Roll Call, Kingston advised Republicans to note that it was a liberal plot to associate DeLay with a “racist, anti-Semitic judge-killer.” He added that Republicans should “turn the tables for a minute: You never see TV shows depicting a 15-year-old teenage girl driving across the state border to get an abortion with a Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton T-shirt on.”

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

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