"There's stiff competition for this designation," Nancy Pelosi told me as I was working to compile this list of the worst members of the House.
And it's true. We started with a the Terrible 20, before whittling the list down first to the Sleazebag 17, the Dirty Dozen, and finally our excreble, bottom-feeding Terrible Ten.
The list doesn't include those bastards we've already watched slink away to prison or ignomy this year (bribe seekers Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney, or child predator Mark Foley) or those whose misguided vanity led them to abandon their House posts in search of higher office (Katherine Harris, you won't be missed.)
Without futher ado, the envelopes please:
1) Denny Hastert (R-Ill.):
"Most of us aren't Speaker of the House, and most of us don't have a $200 million earmark running through our back yard. Hastert does, and he made a fortune from it."2) James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.)
"He treats us all equally," says Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.). "He treats us all like dogs."3) Don Young (R.-Alaska)
When Sen. John McCain proposed that Young redirect his prized pork money to help rebuild New Orleans, Young accused his detractors of "ignorance and stupidity." The victims of Katrina, he suggested,"can kiss my ear!"4) "Dollar" Bill Jefferson (D-La.)
Despite his unethical behavior, Jefferson is cruising to re-election. "In Louisiana, they have a long tradition of corruption — a Huey Long tradition."5) Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)
Even Brent Wilkes — the defense contractor whose payoffs sent Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison earlier this year — has complained about Lewis' shakedown operation.6) Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)
"He's got the best track record in Congress," raves Gordon Baum, head of the Council for Conservative Citizens, a "pro-white" group that lauds Tancredo for protecting America from a "full-scale invasion" of Latin immigrants.7) Dick Pombo (R-Calif.)
"Dick Pombo is the most dangerous member of the House," says Carl Pope of the Sierra Club. "There's no one who represents the threat to our public lands that he does."8) Curt Weldon (R-Penn.)
"Curt Weldon has outlived his usefulness to the country," says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "He's seeing ghosts and conspiracies."9) Hal Rogers (R.-Ky.)
He has placed the interests of his own district ahead of defending the nation from Al Qaeda, prompting even the archconservative National Review to call him a "congressional disgrace."10) Marilyn Musgrave (R.-Colo.)
"She doesn't like the idea of one gay person," says Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. "So obviously the idea of two of us hanging out makes her very unhappy."