Ready for a rousing game of "who's dumber"? Contestant #1 comes to us all the way from the U.K. Demonstrating an amazing ability to push the envelope on what can be said by a politician without having his resignation letter in hand, I give you British prime minister Gordon Brown:
Gordon Brown prostrated himself as a “penitent sinner” yesterday after a brush with a voter triggered a calamitous chain of events that threatened to derail Labour on the eve of tonight’s pivotal TV debate.
The Prime Minister spent an unscheduled 45 minutes inside the terraced house of Gillian Duffy apologising to the Labour-supporting widow for insulting her behind her back.
His muttered description of her as a “bigoted woman”, picked up by a microphone as he drove off from their combative but apparently friendly encounter, plunged Labour’s high command into its most serious crisis of the campaign.
A mortified Mr Brown issued six apologies over the next six hours, including one by e-mail to Labour supporters for letting them down. Despite saying sorry to Mrs Duffy over the telephone, he ignored aides and insisted on driving back to Rochdale from Manchester, abandoning his preparation for tonight’s third and final leaders’ debate, to atone in person for his blunder.
He emerged from her house smiling fixedly, saying that he had misunderstood her earlier words. But a more telling image showed him in a Manchester radio studio earlier, head in hands, the full horror of the episode dawning as he listened to a tape of his remarks.
The ghastly unfolding seemed unlikely when the pair parted on apparently good terms after a five-minute conversation in the street. Mr Brown told Mrs Duffy, 66, that it had been “very good” to meet her and she told journalists that she had found him “nice” and that he had won her vote.
But within seconds Mr Brown could be heard — courtesy of a Sky News microphone that he had worn for his walkabout — declaring their meeting a “disaster”, blaming aides for putting him in such a position, and describing Mrs Duffy as “a sort of bigoted woman”. He concluded, days into a new campaigning style in which he meets more real people: “It’s just ridiculous.”
His reaction was apparently sparked by a comment on immigrants, when she said: “All these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?”
“He’s an educated person. Why has he come out with words like that? He’s supposed to be leading the country and he’s calling an ordinary woman, who’s come up and asked questions, a bigot.”
Mr Brown’s aides said that when presented with a transcript he knew instantly that he had made a serious error. Their biggest challenge is to lift Mr Brown’s spirits before tonight’s 90-minute leaders’ debate in Birmingham. He was said to be distraught at the hurt he caused, primarily to Mrs Duffy but also to Labour’s re-election campaign. Party strategists had regarded the debate, the first half of which is to be devoted to the economy, as a chance to close the gap a week before polling day. (courtesy of the Times of London)
Contestant # 2 is an American born and raised, and one that fills me with such confidence for the upcoming football season. I give you Miami Dolphins general manager Jim Ireland:
DAVIE, Fla. -- Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will "take appropriate actions if necessary" against general manager Jeff Ireland for asking former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant whether his mother was ever a prostitute.
Ireland apologized for the question, and the NFL players union raised concerns Wednesday about discrimination and degradation.
Ross issued a statement saying he'll look into the matter personally.
"As an owner of many companies and organizations, including the Miami Dolphins, I have always strived to comply with the highest standards in all aspects of my businesses, including recruiting," Ross said. "In interviewing employees, we always look to obtain relevant and appropriate information in adherence with the best industry practices."
An NFL statement said Ireland "exercised poor judgment in asking an insensitive and inappropriate question."
Ireland's apology came only after Yahoo! Sports reported that he posed the question several weeks ago during a pre-draft interview with Bryant.
"My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting," Ireland said in a statement. "Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions. Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him.
"I appreciate his acceptance of that apology, and I told him I wished him well as he embarks on his NFL career."
"My mom is not a prostitute," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. As for his reaction to Ireland's question: "I got mad- - really mad -- but I didn't show it." (courtesy CBSSports.com)
"Yes, now this is very important to our determination of your ability to fit in with this team. Is your mother a hooker? What does she charge? Does she have a few friends?" For God's sake Ireland, Were you trying to learn information useful to the team or for your personal perversion?
I have to give the edge in sheer stupidity to Ireland; though in the p.m.'s favor, Brown has a long established propensity for such statements and a body of such work comparable to Joe Biden's. Either way, I think the main difference between them is that Brown will have plenty of aides to help him remove the foot from his mouth; I suspect Ireland should be a little more worried about where Stephen Ross' foot ends up.